Sisters of the Cross

Sisters of the Cross

3.41 (64 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by  , Translated by 

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Thirty-year-old Piotr Alekseevich Marakulin lives a contented, if humdrum life as a financial clerk in a Petersburg trading company. He is jolted out of his daily routine when, quite unexpectedly, he is accused of embezzlement and loses his job. This change of status brings him into contact with a number of women-the titular "sisters of the cross"-whose sufferings will lead him to question the ultimate meaning of the universe. The first English translation of this remarkable 1910 novel by Alexei Remizov, one of the most influential members of the Russian Symbolist movement, Sisters of the Cross is a masterpiece of early modernist fiction. In the tradition of Gogol's Petersburg Tales and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, it deploys densely packed psychological prose and fluctuating narrative perspective to tell the story of a "poor clerk" who rebels against the suffering and humiliation afflicting both his own life and the lives of the remarkable women whom he encounters in the tenement building where he lives in Petersburg.
The novel reaches its haunting climax at the beginning of the Whitsuntide festival, when Marakulin thinks he glimpses the coming of salvation both for himself and for the "fallen" actress Verochka, the unacknowledged love of his life, in one of the most powerfully drawn scenes in Symbolist literature. Remizov is best known as a writer of short stories and fairy tales, but this early novel, masterfully translated by Roger Keys and Brian Murphy, is perhaps his most significant work of sustained artistic prose.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 22.86mm | 340.19g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0231185421
  • 9780231185424
  • 2,869,982

Table of contents

List of Characters
Sisters of the Cross
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Review quote

A seminal novel by one of the most important of the Symbolist writers. . . . Whether you read it to get a sense of Petersburg in the pre-revolutionary era, or to savor the poeticism of Remizov's prose, you won't be disappointed. * Russian Life * In gorgeous prose, the novel blends together the seemingly disparate narratives of its individual characters to form a harmonious whole. The narrative sings of age-old dichotomies-rich and poor, truth and illusion, love and lust. Phrases, sentences, and even entire paragraphs occasionally resurface throughout, like motifs in a symphony of human suffering. * Foreword Reviews * Dark and beguiling; Remizov is a writer worth knowing about, and this slender volume makes a good start. * Kirkus Reviews * An assured and vivid translation by Roger Keys and Brian Murphy. . . . Sisters of the Cross freely blends the symbolic with the explicit, the arcane with the colloquial, and the spiritual with the profane, depicting life in all its irrationality and absurdity. -- Bryan Karetnyk * Times Literary Supplement * Remizov's sketches and episodes offer a vividly drawn good cross-section of Russian life at the beginning of the twentieth century. -- M.A. Orthofer * The Complete Review * Now that Sisters of the Cross is accessible in a skilled translation, those teaching undergraduate courses have the opportunity to assign what is arguably Remizov's finest work as well as an excellent example of Russian modernist prose. . . . For Anglophone readers with an interest in Russian literature who have not yet come across Remizov, Sisters of the Cross will be a pleasing discovery. -- Barry P. Scherr * Slavic and East European Journal * In Sisters of the Cross, we get an expertly accurate translation of perhaps the only masterpiece of Russian prose before 1917 that remains unknown to Anglophone readers. Keys and Murphy capture Remizov's teeming, intensely human post-Dostoevskian Petersburg, where the sordid, the surreal, and the spiritual are inextricable. -- Gerald Smith, University of Oxford Sisters of the Cross is a tale set in Burkov's boardinghouse-a microcosm of Petersburg and the whole of Russia-filled with minor civil servants, wronged women, and holy wanderers, accident-prone circus artistes set to conquer the heart of Europe, the indifferent rich, and a Moscow merchant, haphazard patron of the protagonist. All this buzzes and sings, expands and contracts in mesmerizing spirals-until the shock of the last line, a scream for help in an empty world. Wisely, Keys and Murphy preserve the authorial intonation, and thereby achieve simplicity and poetic resonance without losing immediate human interest among the echoes of another culture. -- Avril Pyman, University of Durham An English translation of Alexei Remizov's Sisters of the Cross has long been overdue. Roger Keys and Brian Murphy successfully tackle the challenges of Remizov's unique and quirky style, which fuses archaic and folkloric traits with a modernist flair reminiscent of surrealism. -- Adrian Wanner, Pennsylvania State University Remizov reveals the way trauma recurs in the mind, body, and speech of the survivor. He exposes the absurd normalization of sexual violence in Russian society in his time. And he shows how individuals - Marakulin, Father Lis, and others - embody this societal threat. -- Fiona Bell * Los Angeles Review of Books *
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About Alexei Remizov

Alexei Remizov (1877-1957) was a Russian novelist and short-story writer known for his unique style, which blends a popular Russian idiom with the language of old Russian tales and folklore. Roger Keys is the author of The Reluctant Modernist: Andrei Belyi and the Development of Russian Fiction, 1902-1914 (1996) and numerous articles on Russian Symbolism. Brian Murphy is professor emeritus of Russian at the University of Ulster. His publications include works on Mikhail Sholokhov and Mikhail Zoshchenko.
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Rating details

64 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 20% (13)
4 27% (17)
3 31% (20)
2 17% (11)
1 5% (3)
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