Note on the Translation [chapter]

1999 The Diaries of Nikolay Punin  
The diaries held at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin consist often slim notebooks, often bound in a handmade cover, each about the size of a school composition book. They span the years 1914-1936 and contain Nikolay Punin's handwritten entries, newspaper clippings, and other enclosures such as a Christmas ornament made by Tatlin, postcards, and even a lock of hair (presumably Anna Akhmatova's). The diaries themselves have had some passages cut
more » ... and others marked out at a later date. The first few notebooks contain comments written by Akhmatova in the margins. All in all, these small and somewhat battered documents are as complex and original as the man who wrote them. Even though the events that shaped his life occurred more than fifty years ago, Nikolay Punin's diaries are living testament to that life, and in reading them one is often transported back in time. After completing a preliminary translation of the diaries, I traveled to St. Petersburg to meet the Punin family. There I found that the holdings at the HRHRC were actually the middle part of Punin's diaries and that he had kept a diary from 1904 until his death in 1953. Nikolay Punin's daughter, Irina Punina, his granddaughter, Anna Kaminskaya, and Anna's husband, Leonid Zykov, had already organized a great deal of Punin's archives into a collection of diary entries, correspondence, official documents, articles, and Akhmatova's poetry that, like a mosaic, told the story of Punin's life and work. Unfortunately, the scope of the present publication did not allow us to include all of these materials, but the family has kindly granted permission to include part of the collection dating before 1914 and after 1936 in this translation. The first section of this volume, entitled "Early Materials from the Punin Diaries, 1904-1910," and the last section, "Late Materials from the Punin Diaries, 1941-1952," are excerpts from the volume that the family is preparing for publication. We have kept their format in the translation. These sections are highly abridged; we hope that a complete volume will appear soon in Russian and eventually in English as well.
doi:10.7560/765894-004 fatcat:gpviducfanhvhibnmaotveldma