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Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky
Brendan Kiernan
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Product Description

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now!

"Gilyarovsky's self-described 'chronicle' is a spectacular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin." – From the Translator's Introduction 

First published in 1926, this work has been translated into English for the first time and it positively teems with rich descriptions and vivid anecdotes:

from the depths of Moscow’s sewers
to the murky back rooms of its gambling dens...

from the steam-filled halls of banyas
to the dining rooms of posh restaurants and taverns...

from the lives of students and waiters
to the struggles of market traders and heroic firemen...

Gilyarovsky documents pre-Soviet life in the Russian capital like no work before or since, and this first-ever English translation includes 88 historical images, locator maps, an index, nearly 300 useful footnotes, and a Russian language appendix of all poems and songs translated in the book.

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On Gilyarovsky and his work

"Gilyarovsky burst in like a whirlwind in and told me had made your acquaintance. He praised you no end. I have known him for almost 20 years; we started our careers together in Moscow and I have had plenty of opportunities to see him in action. There is something of the Nozdrev character in him – unsettled and boisterous, yet this is an unaffected man with a pure heart, completely lacking in the sort of deceit so common in members of the press. He is constantly telling funny stories, carries a watch with an indecent picture on the face and, when he is at his best, does card tricks."

– Anton Chekhov, to Maxim Gorky

"Vladimir Alexeyevich was a newspaper reporter, just a reporter! But it is difficult to find words to express how high he held the banner of literature in such a modest role. When I remember how conscientious he was, flying off in the middle of the night to the printers in order to correct a tiny mistake in a ten-line piece, how inventive he was in order to get at the truth, how he disguised himself as a trader or a swindler, how he made the rounds of the villages and taverns… when I remember his ever cheerful, warm tone, his complete attention to all things that ennobled the newspaper… when I recall his stocky, healthy figure at all those meetings, exuding honesty, courage and selflessness… then I feel there will never again be such an example of a reporter…"

– Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko

"Dear Uncle Gilya, my literary and gymnastically godfather, I could sooner imagine Moscow without Ivan's Bell Tower or the Tsar's Cannon than without you. You are the hub of Moscow."

– Your unruly son, Alexander Kuprin

"Combining a Dickensian eye with the racy style of a tabloid journalist, plus a dash of Zola-esque naturalism, Gilyarovsky offered in Moscow and Muscovites an entertaining, if exhausting, panorama of our city at the turn of the century."

– Anya von Bremzen, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking 

"...this amazing and overlooked book is an important addition to any bookshelf... Here, in vivid architectural and cultural detail, is a loving, yet honest depiction of pre-revolutionary Moscow... Gilyarovsky is great because he gets into the down and dirty – slums, decadent nightclubs and banquets – without judging; actually, he's there having a good time... the prose is fine enough that I devoured this like candy. Thanks much to the translator for this selfless labor."

– Jacob Dreyer (on Amazon)

Vladimir Gilyarovsky (1853-1935) was an adventurer, raconteur, poet, actor gourmand, and an indefatigable journalist. Indeed, Russians (who call him, affectionately, "Uncle Gilya") consider him the grandfather of Russian journalism. His chronicle of Moscow captured the great city in a literary chrysalis just as it was being ravaged by the Bolshevik Thermidor.
Brendan Kiernan is a freelance translator and political analyst. A student of Russian language and literature since 1977, he earned his bachelor's from Williams College and his Ph.D (in Political Science) from Indiana University, Bloomington, as well as an area studies certificate from IU’s famed Russian and East European Institute. He is the author of The End of Soviet Politics (Westview).


Translation of this book was funded by The Translation Institute. 


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