Samstag, 30. Mai 2009

Bibliography for Abram Tertz/Andrei Sinyavsky

Compiled during my own work on Tertz's Fantastic Stories (here and a non-academic review here).
This was some of the first major academic research I did, and Tertz (along with Gogol) was one of the primary reasons I decided to learn Russian, so he has a special place in my heart.

Dalton, Margaret. Andrei Siniavsky and Julii Daniel', Two Soviet 'Heretical' Writers. Würzberg: Jal, 1973.

Kolonosky, Walter. Literary Insinuations: Sorting out Sinyavsky’s Irreverence. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003.

Lourie, Richard. Letters to the Future: An Approach to Sinyavsky-Tertz. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975.

Nepomnyashchy, Catharine Theimer. Abram Tertz and the Poetics of Crime. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995.

Fantastic Stories
Artz, Martine. “Interpretations of Pchenc, One of the Fantastic Stories of Andrej Sinjavskij/Abram Terc.” Dutch Contributions to the Eleventh International Congress of Slavists, Bratislava, August 30-September 9, 1993. Ed. Willem G Weststeijn. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994. 13-22.

Carrington, Ildikó de Papp. “Demons, Doubles, and Dinosaurs: Life before Man, The Origin of Consciousness, and 'The Icicle'.” Essays on Canadian Writing 33 (1986): 68-88.

Cheaure, Elisabeth. Abram Terc (Andrej Sinjavskij): vier Aufsätze zu seinen “Phantastischen Erzählungen.” Heidelberg: Winter, 1980.

Cornwell, Neil. “At the Circus with Olesha and Siniavskii.” Slavonic and East European Review 71.1 (1993): 1-13.

Durkin, Andrew R. “Narrator, Metaphor, and Theme in Sinjavskij's Fantastic Tales.” Slavic and East European Journal 24 (1980): 133-144.

Haber, Erika. “In Search of the Fantastic in Tertz's Fantastic Realism.” Slavic and East European Journal 42.2 (1998): 254-267.

---. “The Fantastic Form of Terc's Early Fiction.” Russian, Croatian and Serbian, Czech and Slovak, Polish Literature 47.2 (2000): 135-158.

Kolonosky, Walter. “Inherent and Ulterior Design in Sinjavskij's "Pxenc".” Slavic and East European Journal 26.3 (1982): 329-337.

Morsberger, Grace Anne. “'The Icicle' as Allegory.” Odyssey: A Journal of the Humanities 4.2 (1981): 15-18.

Nepomnyashchy, Catharine Theimer. “Andrei Sinyavsky's 'You and I': A Modern Day Fantastic Tale.” Ulbandus Review 2.2 (1982): 209-230.

Peterson, Ronald E. “The Writer as Alien in Sinjavskij's 'Pkhens'.” Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 12 (1983): 47-53.

Airaudi, Jesse T. “Fantasia for Sewercovers and Drainpipes: T.S. Eliot, Abram Tertz, and the Surreal Quest for pravda.” Modes of the Fantastic Selected Essays from the Twelfth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Ed. Robert A Latham. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1995. 21-27.

Artz, Martine. Fantasy and Reality in Abram Terc's Early Prose: A Documentary-Narratological Study. Diss. University of Amsterdam, 2005.

Aucouturier, Michael. “Writer and Text in the Works of Abram Terc (An Ontology of Writing and a Poetics of Prose).” Trans. Alexandre Guerard. Fiction and Drama in Eastern and Southeastern Europe: Evolution and Experiment in the Postwar Period. Ed. Henrik Birnbaum & Thomas Eekman. Columbus, OH: Slavica, 1980. 1-10.

Brown, Deming. “The Art of Andrei Siniavsky..” Slavic Review 29.4 (1970): 663-681.

Clowes, Edith W. “Kafka and Russian Experimental Fiction in the Thaw, 1956-1965.” Modern Language Review 89.1 (1994): 149-165.

Cohen, Gordon, and Donald Fanger. “Abram Tertz: Dissidence, Diffidence, and Russian Literary Tradition.” Soviet Society and Culture: Essays in Honor of Vera S. Dunham. Ed. Terry L. Thompson and Richard Sheldon. Boulder and London: Westview Press, 1988. 162-77.

Dunham, Vera S. “Serenity: A Note on Sinyavsky’s Style.” The Third Wave: Russian Literature in Emigration. Ed. Olga Matich and Michael Heim. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1984. 110-17.

Fanger, Donald. “Conflicting Imperatives in the Model of the Russian Writer: The Case of Tertz/Sinyavsky.” Literature and History: Theoretical Problems and Russian Case Studies. Ed. Gary Saul Morson. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986. 111-24.

Fenander, Sara. “Author and Autocrat: Tertz's Stalin and the Ruse of Charisma.” Russian Review 58.2 (1999): 286-297.

Gifford, Henry. “Andrey Sinyavsky: The Voice and the Chorus.” Encounter 42.2 (1974): 34-39.

Holmgren, Beth C. “First-Person Liberties: The persona in the work of Witold Gombrowicz and Abram Terc.” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1987.

---. “The Transfiguring of Context in the Work of Abram Terts.” Slavic Review: American Quarterly of Soviet and East European Studies 50.4 (1991): 965-977.

Karpov, Anatolii S. “Le Realisme fantastique dans les premiers ecrits en prose d'Abram Terz.” Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue Canadienne des Slavistes 43.2-3 (2001): 227-234.

Kolonosky, Walter. “Andrei Sinyavsky: Puzzle Maker.” Slavic and East European Journal 42.3 (1998): 385-388.

McLean, Hugh. “Abram Tertz and His Translators.” Slavic and East European Journal 8.4 (1964): 434-40.

Nussbaum, Andrew J. “Literary Selves: The Tertz-Sinyavsky Dialogue.” Autobiographical Statements in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature. Ed. Jane Gary Harris. Princton: Princeton University Press, 1990. 238-59.

Sinyavsky, Andrei. “'I' and 'They': An Essay on Extreme Forms of Communication under Conditions of Human Isolation.” Survey: A Journal of East & West Studies 100-101 (1977): 278-287.

Skillen, Daphne Helen. The Prose Fiction of Andrej Sinjavskij. M.A. thesis, University of Colorado, 1976.

Szarycz, Ireneusz. “Sinyavsky and Vonnegut: The Themes of Displacement and Alienation.” Twentieth-Century Russian Literature: Selected Papers from the Fifth World Congress of Central and East European Studies. Ed. Karen L. Ryan & Barry P. Scherr. New York: Macmillan, 2000. 164-179.

Woronzoff, Alexander. “The Writer as Artist and Critic: The Case of Andrej Sinjavskij.” Russian Language Journal 37 (1983): 139-45.

Wozniak, Anna. “Skomorosheskii glum v proze Abrama Tertsa.” Roczniki Humanistyczne: Annales de Lettres et Sciences Humaines/Annals of Arts 50.7 (2002): 53-71.

Freitag, 29. Mai 2009

Greek readers

More ancient Greek resources...with the disclaimer that I haven't used (or even seen) all the titles in questions. Comments/suggestions on omissions (or broken links) are as usual welcome.

Communicative/Reading-Based Textbooks
These texts move away from a traditional grammar-translation approach and focus more on reading and aquiring the language. The approaches are fairly disparate, but all of them, as far as I can tell, apply techniques for modern languages to teaching ancient Greek.
  • Paula Saffire and Catherine Freis. Ancient Greek Alive.
  • Günther Zuntz. Griechischer Lehrgang (German and Greek. There is apparently an English version which is recommended by Seamus MacDonald)
  • Athenaze (Italian edition, adapted by Luigi Miraglia to resemble Orberg's Lingua Latina. It is available at his website)
  • Polis Koine. A relatively new French-based course which aims to teach Ancient Greek as a living language (website)
  • Assimil's Le grec ancien sans peine. Sample page here.
  • A number of people have also suggested the Greek Ollendorff by Asahel Clark Kendrick. Although it's a traditional grammar-based course in many ways, it includes a lot of practice exercises, often in the form of dialogues.
  • W. H. D. Rouse. A Greek Boy at Home. (Meant to accompany his First Greek Course. Files for both are here. He also published a reader, available here)
  • C. W. Peckett and A.R. Munday. Thrasymachus.
  • Joint Association of Classical Teachers. Reading Greek.

Easy/adapted readers
Johannides' book is hilarous, but unfortunately printed in the verdammt German Fraktur. I'm not sure whether Sellner's book is a phrase book or more of a collection of sententia antiquae.
  • Alfred Sellner. Altgriechisch im Alltag
  • E. Johannides. (pseud of Eduard Johnson. biographical note here) Sprechen Sie Attisch?
Synonyms & vocab building
Vocabulary grouped around semantic fields.
Two titles also look useful, but I'm not sure how much they're oriented to the reader who knows Greek, and how much they're intended for students interested primarily in the philosophical concepts.
  • Francis Edward Peters. Greek Philosophical Terms.
  • J. O. Urmson. The Greek Philosophical Vocabulary.
Vocabulary frequency lists
These books are primarily useful for vocab drilling and are organized alphabetically or according to frequency in Greek texts
  • Malcolm Campbell. Classical Greek Prose: A Basic Vocabulary
  • W.J Bullick and J.A. Harrison. Greek Vocabulary and Idiom
  • Owen and Goodspeed. Homeric Vocabularies
  • Thomas Meyer and Hermann Steinthal. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Griechisch

For composition

Mittwoch, 13. Mai 2009

Nonsense poetry

This post at languagehat discusses attempts to determine whether an unknown script in fact represents a language using statistical analysis. The principle seems to be that language will show a higher probability for certain symbols to follow certain other symbols, for example, in English we can predict that 'q' will be followed by 'u', and certain words ('the,' 'and') will appear more frequently than others.

Several semesters ago I did a project on the semantics of nonsense poetry, and this reminded me of a couple of questions I considered at the time, although I didn't have the necessary background to delve any deeper into the issue.

Among other things I was interested in whether we could distinguish sound poetry from poetry in an unknown (or made-up, Jabberwocky-type) language based on formal characteristics. Although a sound poem may be divided into units resembling words, we have no way of determining how these words may relate to each other (syntax and morphology). All sounds are equally important. All patterning is the result of formal resemblances, not meaning imposed arbitrarily on a phonetic structure. Sound is used as material, as in painting or music. Although sound poetry may resemble a text in an unknown language in that both consist of strings of syllables which have (for the audience) no meaning, one would expect them to differ structurally, because the principles for arranging the sounds are different.

(I assumed here that music is patterned differently than language -- this claim could probably be challenged, certainly the separation between music and language is by no means absolute, I don't know enough about this take it further. This also does not consider that the arrangement of words in poetry in particular is based on considerations of sound and meter at least as much as on meaning. Even so, intuitively it seems to me there must be some difference, in degree if not in kind.)

Theoretically, formal characteristics should also be sufficient to distinguish nonsense from code, where the meaning can be found by systematically applying rules to produce the text in the original language. However, there may in fact be a close resemblance between a nonsense text and something in an unknown language, which is why the discussion of statistical methods for attempting to decipher this script are interesting for my purposes.

One of the commentors links to a letter to the editor in the satirical linguistics journal Speculative Grammarian:

Carapes the ditl isch prentele whic che fiene Unincip-ikedfuls Que pland trial laing expror, no the thent acards, wal of of Eng Evis, forigh Worics on ousunt heard In youle not to linet med, mants of sen gic spers of at nam at mands wouremay.

“For efillyin froccut werepty to oreings; thicialy, sualich.” Goverphose blit.

He adds the following explanation:
This text meets the statistical specification of English at the trigram level (3-letter combinations, rather than bigrams, or 2-letter combinations), so if you use any of the statistical language identifiers out there on the web, it will usually most strongly identify as English, though clearly it is not...The interesting thing to me is that if you didn't know it was fake text, it feels vaguely like it could be a Germanic language or a not-so-Romance Romance language (like the way Romanian has been heavily influenced by contact with Slavic languages). Since Germanic + a-bit-of-Romance is a fair characterization of English, you can see why the stats are fooled.
I was intrigued by the text first, of course, because of its resemblance to nonsense texts. One frequently observed characteristic of poems such as "Jabberwocky" is that the nonsense words are all phonetically well-formed -- they look like possible words in the language they are based on. There are also traces of what could be interpreted as suffixes, function words, etc. (Perhaps there's some thinly-disguised meaning here which I'm just missing, and the text could be "translated" quite easily. I'm going to assume based on the writer's comments, however, that this was not the intent in this case...)

I'm not sure whether his fake text challenges or supports my theory, however. It does seem to suggest that syntax is irrelevant for this type of analysis, and part of my argument was that morpho-syntactic structures are part of what we use to interpret nonsense texts.

Nebenbei betrachtet

Zwei Leute im Sitz vor mir auf dem Bus -- er sprach Russisch, sie (wahrscheinlich seine Tochter?) antwortete auf Englisch. Fand ich total faszinierend. Offensichtlich verstanden sie sich ohne Mühe, ich kann nur mutmaßen, dass das Mädchen Russisch nur passiv beherrschte. Was mich wunderte war, dass es sie überhaupt nicht störte. Alles ganz normal.

Mir ist es manchmal in Deutschland vorgekommen, dass Leute mit mir Englisch reden wollen, weil sie glauben, sie tun mir ein Gefallen. Wenn sie dann endlich merken, dass ich stets auf Deutsch antworte, wechseln wir dann normalerweise auf Deutsch, aber bis dahin ist es mir immer höchst unangenehm, da ich nicht weiss, auf welche Sprache wir reden sollen.

Mittwoch, 6. Mai 2009


Even after speaking German regularly for so long I still have to make an effort to remember to use "du" and "Sie" at the proper times. My brain apparently hasn't learned to make the semantic/pragmatic distinction correctly; for example, when I'm reading texts in German I often don't pick up immediately on what pronoun form characters are using when addressing one another (which is particularly a problem when the author is using this to convey information about the characters' relationships with each other): the distinction is simply not one which I ordinarily pay attention to.

In one of my linguistics courses we discussed various ways of expressing politeness in different languages. We can understand it in terms of two axes: the vertical (expressing hierarchy, relatively lower or higher rank) and the horizontal (expressing familiarity: closeness or distance). The tous/vous distinction which exists in many European languages used to express the vertical axis, but it has begun to shift to a more horizontal system. (This means, among other things, that in various parts of Germany and in various social situations it is possible end up with the somewhat odd situation where you address someone with "du" and their family name, or as "Sie" and their first name.)

Now, although usually know which pronoun I should use in most situations, I have problems doing so consistently. Mostly this is not using "Sie" when I should, but occasionally I have -- to my surprise -- found myself using "Sie" in a situation where I would normally use "du", i.e., when addressing colleagues. This has happened when making introductions and meeting people, so it's possible that I've simply used these formulaic phrases so much with "Sie" that I simply learned them that way. And possibly also some confusion with "ihr" (plural, informal 'you'), which I also do not use particularly often.

However, I wonder whether there may not be another explanation. Rather than concluding that my brain has simply mechanically learned certain phrases and therefore has difficulty producing departures from the formula, I wonder whether I may have internalized a different set of rules for when to use "du" and "Sie"; that is, whether I choose the pronouns according to the formality of the situation. My lapses seem to fall into a category where there is a conflict between my social relationship with the addressee and the content of my utterance. When I am making a more formal statement -- a request, a ritualized question -- I tend to naturally fall into using "Sie". If what I'm saying is more casual or personal, I'm likely to use "du". Most of the time this is not a problem, as I'm likely to be talking about more formal topics with professors, for example, and with friends the context will be more informal.