In response to:
Pasternak in Private from the October 25, 1979 issue
To the Editors:
I find it strange that you review now a book published more than three years ago and totally out of print [My Sister, Life, and Other Poems by Boris Pasternak, translated by Olga Carlisle, reviewed in The New York Review, October 25, 1979]; and then follow up the review with a “letter to the editors” [NYR, March 6], which makes one think of KGB methods—vilification without possible verification by the readers of the allegations. What makes you think that Mr. Loseff (presumably a Soviet émigré who has lived here only three years, and experienced so far in our country only one cultural shock—reading my book and seeing Miss Morath’s photographs illustrating it) is equipped to judge the finer points of translation into English? This letter is a good expression of Khamstvo, as it was coined by my grandfather. (For Khamstvo the dictionary suggests “boorishness” as a translation, but that seems too mild to my Russian sense of this word.)
Olga Andreyev Carlisle
San Francisco, California
Mrs. Carlisle’s book was included for review with other and more recent books about Pasternak. It seemed better to review it late than not at all; and of course it is available in libraries for those who want to judge it for themselves. As for Mr. Loseff, we see no reason why a Russian emigre (who now teaches at an American college) is not equipped to have opinions on Pasternak translations or why he should not be allowed to express them.
April 17, 1980