Book Prize Winners for 2009
Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy
Ronelle Alexander and Ellen Elias-Bursać, for: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian. A Textbook With Exercises and Basic Grammar. (Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006).
Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian is an ambitious undertaking that grapples with the enormous challenges Slavists face in organizing study of the languages of the former Yugoslavia. It is the first textbook in the wake of the disintegration of that country to give students the choice to study only one of the three languages, or compare two, or work on all three at once. Even students learning only one of the three languages cannot help but become aware of some of the languages’ similarities and differences, thus gaining access to ethnicities that speak closely related tongues. The text’s structure, which offers parallel linguistic material in all three languages at once (including both Cyrillic and non-Cyrillic Serbian) acknowledges the distinct identity and features of each language, but also permits easy comparison of their norms. The textbook input is available on CD, and the website that accompanies the book offers students links of cultural and linguistic materials in each language. The textbook can serve independent learners as well as those in a traditional classroom, and its welcome publication fills a void in the profession.
Best Contribution to Slavic Linguistics
Cynthia Vakareliyska, for: The Curzon Bible. Volume 1: An Annotated Edition, Volume 2: A Linguistic and Textual Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
Cynthia Vakareliyska’s deeply erudite, careful edition and study of the Curzon Gospel is an outstanding example of how to edit and analyze texts. In our current production-line, impact-factor model of research, it's rare to find work that really focuses on exhaustively exploring a single manuscript to shed light on that manuscript's place in the textual world, although it is precisely this type of textually grounded philological study that is likely to retain its value long after new data and new theories have emerged. This publication combines the best features of several scholarly traditions: a paleographically scrupulous diplomatic edition; the thorough apparatus of a critical edition; meticulous orthographic, linguistic, and codicological analysis; and stimulating discussion of the relationship between this manuscript and others of similar content. As a result, Professor Vakareliyska’s research yields original, important, and provocative evidence in several areas: the fourteenth-century date of the manuscript makes us reappraise what might otherwise have passed for thirteenth-century letterforms; the alternation of minor jus and jat′ weaves a web of interrelated orthographic, phonological, morphological, and grammatical threads; and the constellation of the Curzon, Banica, and Dobrejšo Gospels constitutes the only positively identified family of Middle Bulgarian gospel manuscripts and thus enables us to examine in detail the transmission of information from antigraph to apograph. Professor Vakareliyska’s study is rich in material, in analytical and synthetic conclusions, and in methodological innovation, and stands as an exemplary model for the future publication of medieval Slavic manuscript materials.
Best Book in Literary/Cultural Studies
Roman Koropeckyj, for: Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).
In this first major English-language study of the life of Adam Mickiewicz, Poland’s national poet, Roman Koropeckyj provides far more than a simple biography. In impressive detail drawn from his extensive research in Polish materials as well as German, French, Russian, Italian, and English sources, Koropeckyj incisively analyzes the simultaneous development of an extraordinary poetic talent and management of an international celebrity: a displaced Slavic romantic and a political émigré who epitomizes the cult of a national poet. From his early days in the Filaret society of Vilnius to his death in exotic Istanbul in 1855, Mickiewicz was engaged in the production of a Romantic identity linked with that of a semi-mythical Polish nation. As Koropeckyj demonstrates in his sober account, this endeavor was far less self-assured and much more complex than hagiographical accounts of Mickiewicz’s life tend to admit. Koropeckyj’s magisterial Adam Mickiewicz makes a valuable contribution to the history of Polish literature and pan-European Romanticism as well as to the debates over national identity that are still very much alive in post-communist Poland.
Best Translation into English
Marian Schwartz, for her translation of: Mikhail Bulgakov, White Guard. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), with an introduction by Evgeny Dobrenko.
The project makes great demands on the translator not only because Bulgakov is a consummate stylist, but also because reproducing the specifics of the historical situation requires punctilious research, and because the interlarding of Ukrainian, especially in dialogues, must be incorporated. Schwartz conveys the fevered, fragmentary effect of Bulgakov’s Modernist prose, the jumble of voices and associations that mark his first novel.
As a freelance translator from Russian into English, Marian Schwartz stands almost alone in the field, translating actively and at a consistently high level for years. She has put forgotten writers like Nina Berberova on the Anglo-American map, introduced contemporary writers (she is currently working on Olga Slavnikova), and done a number of impressive retranslations of the classics. White Guard shows her at the peak of her powers.