(Lawrence) Durrell in Russia, and why Alexandria is like Odessa

I’d recommend heading over to Michael Haag’s blog here and reading his new post on Russian editions of the Alexandria Quartet, where he has shared has some lovely pictures of the covers as well as background on the Quartet in the former USSR.

Since we’re talking about the elder Durrell in Russia, Russian-speakers may be interested to read/watch this interesting round table chat on Durrell and the Alexandria Quartet from Radio Svoboda in 2011, at the time of the Egyptian Revolution.

I’ve translated a very small selection of interesting parts of the discussion below, which includes a comparison of Alexandria and Odessa!

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‘In the world of animals’ – Durrell in Russia

In 1984, when Gerald and Lee Durrell visited the then-USSR to film their 13-part documentary, Durrells in Russia, the words ‘Soviet Union’ and ‘wildlife’ were rarely, if ever, spoken in the same sentence (except perhaps ‘when I think of the Soviet Union, I don’t think of its wildlife’). Durrell’s visit to the USSR was groundbreaking – here was a British man who appeared on a popular Soviet TV show, V Mire Zhivotnikh (‘In the World of Animals’), but more than that, here was a British man who was already popular in Russia.

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Durrell in Russian

When Gerald Durrell and his wife Lee visited the then-USSR to film Durrell in Russia, Gerald was surprised to be mobbed by fans of his books.

Durrell’s books were and still are immensely popular in Russia and other post-Soviet bloc states. Here’s a glimpse at the various editions of My Family and Other Animals.

1971 – paperback edition by Mir, Moscow.

The book is titled ‘Moya Semya i Zveri’, which translates as ‘My Family and Wild Animals’, translated by by L. Derevyankinoi.

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Photos from Durrell in Russia

When I was researching into the Durrell in Russia series I came across a fascinating set of photos on Flickr of Durrell and Lee during their trip to the former USSR.

Durrell outside Russian cafe

The photographer, Byron Patchett, very kindly agreed to let me post some here to share with you (thanks again!). Continue reading

Durrell in Russia

In 1984, Gerald Durrell and his wife Lee made an unprecedented trip to the then-USSR to make a 13-part TV series consisting of 30-minute documentaries about Soviet wildlife reserves. The Durrells’ visit behind the Iron Curtain preceded Mikhail Gorbachov‘s perestroika and glasnost reforms, and they and their film crew (funded by Soviet and Canadian interests as well as the UK’s Channel 4) were the first Westerners to film Soviet wildlife. Continue reading