Book Prize Winners for 2003
Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy 2003:
Boyle, Eloise M. and Genevra Gerhart, eds., The Russian Context: The Culture behind the Language. Bloomington, Ind.: Slavica, 2002.
Innovative and full of valuable information, this book has major implications for a restructuring of Russian language/culture/literature curricula, as it provides instructors for the first time with a compact, structured view of what Russians consider part of their general background. The authors present an interdisciplinary overview of historical and contemporary Russian culture, and focus on the reflection of culture in language. The accompanying CD makes excellent use of technology to provide substantial aural input as well as far more visual input than could possibly have been incorporated in the print volume. This collection of cultural information will be immensely useful in teaching both non-native speakers and heritage learners.
Best Book in Linguistics 2003:
Collins, Daniel E. Reanimated Voices: Speech Reporting in a Historical-Pragmatic Perspective. Pragmatics and Beyond New Series, vol. 85. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2001.
Collins's book breaks new ground in Russian philology with its pragmatic and functionalist study of secular Old Russian texts. In a thorough and circumspect examination, Professor Collins reconstructs the discursive choices made in rendering reported speech in texts. The results of his examination deepen our understanding of the construction of Old Russian texts and, by extension, provide fresh insight into the nature of Old Russian speech. Professor Collins's methodological innovations already noted in domestic and international reviews of his work are certain to be influential in steering a course for this new vein of research both in the Slavic and general linguistic fields.
Best Book in Literary/Cultural Scholarship 2003:
Olcott, Anthony. Russian Pulp: The Detektiv and the Russian Way of Crime. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2001.
This book--highly readable and witty-- treats key aspects from Soviet and post-Soviet life. Because the detiktiv is close, but not identical to the Anglo-American murder mystery, Olcott is able to offer a nuanced, comparative and interdisciplinary framework for his work. He details Soviet attitudes toward sexuality, crime, law, and something that is far more difficult to pin down: the boundaries between the public and the personal. Olcott shows that attitudes inculcated and developed during the years of Soviet rule have not faded away with the collapse of the Soviet Union. His book makes Russian literature and culture accessible to non-Slavists, explicating how Russian culture is different from Western liberal democracy, and grappling with Russian difference without trying to make that Otherness merely edifying.
Best Translation into English 2003:
Levine, Madeline G. Milosz's ABC's, by Czeslaw Milosz. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
This translation represents the achievement of a veteran craftsman instrumental in making contemporary Polish literature accessible to the English-speaking world. A miscellany of highly personal reflections on the relationship between poetry and politics in the twentieth century, Milosz's ABC's encompasses a number of sub-genres under the umbrella of the mock encyclopedia entry. This variety requires the translator to identify and reproduce a great diversity of tone, to which occasion Professor Levine rises again and again. When in "Angelic Sexuality" Milosz wanders into Swedenborgian theosophy, she follows suit with the appropriate philosophical diction and terminology; when in "Arcata" he evokes the beauty of a town on the California coast, she renders it as the prose poem it really is. Everywhere she displays the accuracy and sensitivity we have come to expect of her.