Book Prize Winners for 2006
Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy
Christina E. Kramer, Macedonian = Makedonski jazik: A Course for Beginning and Intermediate Students, Second edition (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003).
Christina Kramer’s book Macedonian: A Course for Beginning and Intermediate Students is the only textbook of the Macedonian language available for English-speaking learners. This book boasts a complete grammar of the language, with appendices containing grammatical summaries, supplementary readings, answer keys and glossaries. A companion CD offers interactive exercises and multimedia materials for comprehension practice. In addition to the all-skills approach to the language, users are provided essential information about Macedonian culture, history, and literature. Kramer’s book represents years of linguistic research on and personal experience with the Macedonian language, and is presented in a format that has been meticulously edited and beautifully illustrated.
Best Book in Slavic Linguistics
Alan Timberlake, A Reference Grammar of Russian (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Alan Timberlake’s Reference Grammar of Russian systematically covers all aspects of Russian grammar from the orthography and sound patterns to syntax and word order. The book is thoroughly researched, well written and easy to use, but its most important and far-reaching contribution is in the areas of syntax and word order. Timberlake devotes significant space to these topics, and he supports his conclusions with statistical data from online corpora and the internet. This grammar makes a valuable contribution to the field of Slavic Linguistics and it should be on every Russian teacher’s desk.
Best Book of Slavic Literary/Cultural Criticism:
Boris Gasparov, Five Operas and a Symphony: Words and Music in Russian Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005).
Boris Gasparov’s Five Operas and a Symphony is a virtuoso combination of musicology, literary analysis, and cultural history that will appeal to readers coming from any of those fields. Focusing on select masterpieces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Gasparov carefully shows how these distinctly Russian works draw on and intersect with the Western European tradition. In considering the operas, Gasparov offers strikingly original readings of both the source texts and their subsequent musical transformations. Thus, the chapter on “Ruslan and Liudmila” is not only a subtle interpretation of the way Glinka incorporated elements of Rossini and Mozart, but also a brilliant study of Pushkin’s long poem and its play with folklore. In a fascinating chapter on Chaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” Gasparov shows how the composer read Pushkin’s novel in verse through the prism of a realist novel in the Turgenev mold. The emphasis is not on deformation or misreading, but on a new set of artistic goals and their realization on the musical stage. In the one chapter devoted to a musical work without a text, Shostakovich’s fourth symphony is interpreted as a narrative and placed in the broader context of Stalinist culture (literature, radio, and film). Whether the subject is Glinka, Chaikovsky, Musorgsky, Shostakovich or the Soviet national anthem, readers will be amazed by the depth of Gasparov’s knowledge and provoked by the range of his comparisons.
Best Translation into English
Michael Henry Heim, for his translation of Kornei Chukovsky, Diary, 1901-1969, ed. Victor Erlich (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005).
This translation represents perhaps the perfect marriage of translator and text: the diaries of one of Russia’s greatest literary translators—among other things—rendered in English by one of America’s most respected translators of Russian literature. Portraying the ups and downs in the personal life of a man with prodigious energy, a forceful personality, a voracious intellectual curiosity, broad circles of friendship, and a gift for telling lively anecdotes, the diaries submerge the reader in the rich flow of history. The translation, which is convincing from start to finish, manages to retain the engaging intimacy of a diary and all the sparkle of Chukovsky’s prose. Heim’s renditions of poetry, especially of Chukovsky’s own poetry for children, are also brilliant. Moreover, the text, which has been very tactfully abridged with the general reader in mind, first by Kornei Chukovsky’s daughter, Lydia, then by Victor Erlich, includes first rate scholarly apparats(useful and convenient footnotes by Chukovskaya, Erlich, and Heim; a helpful list of periodicals, acronyms, etc.; biographical references; a full index). Everything you might need to look up is there. This masterful translation of Chukovsky’s diaries offers a uniquely personal look at a complex personality living in a very complicated time.