Vladimir Sollogub’s witty travelogue will be a pleasant surprise to anyone who believes that the debate between Westernizers and Slavophiles took place exclusively in verbose essays and mind-boggling treatises. Punctuated with pithy dialogues and sobering observations on the scenery of the Russian provinces, Tarantas engages with the vexed question of Russia’s historical path in a unique and refreshing way. Thanks to Michael Katz’s masterful translation, this forgotten classic of Russian literature is now available to an English-reading audience.
In this 19th century Russian social novella, two contrasting characters—one a western-educated intellectual, the other a hidebound country squire—find themselves thrown together on a long cross country journey in a primitive but sturdy carriage—a tarantas. Their shared observations as the troubled panorama of the Russian countryside rolls past is the basis for this commentary on the country’s prospects for social change. Renowned translator Michal R. Katz offers the first new translation of this overlooked novella since the late 1800s, shortly after original publication.