Share on Google Plus
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 Shares     
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats

Life Arts

The School. Reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in Russia

Become a Fan
  (59 fans)
By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 8 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It


'To Kill a Mockingbird’ was translated into Russian and published in a very good edition (a hardcover with an introduction and the author’s bio) somewhere in 1968. Not that Harper Lee received any royalties. I read it in 1970 when I was 14 years old. That puts me a year older than Jem Finch in the book. As far as I know the book was not popular among the teenagers but I did notice a special interest among adults. That was the reason I decided to read it at that time and it triggered the events that followed. The dialogs and encounters I site in my essay are real; they really took place, although not always with me personally. But they happened. Since I had arrived into the US, my son went through the US school system and there they read and digested that book. To my utmost surprise the specific aspects of that book, the ones that drew the most attention in Russia here were not even mentioned. I thus had decided to recreate those discussions of my childhood so that my American readers would be able to get some valuable input into the way other cultures pursue theirs.

On a specific issue: I will use the word Negro in the essay. That was and is the word Russians use to describe black people, not only Americans. The word does not contain any negative connotation in the Russian language. On the contrary, the ‘black’ adjective has a very strong negative connotation and as such is used in Russian culture as an insult. It is thus understandable that I wanted to show that when referring to the black folks we in Russia did not mean to insult them in any way.

1. To kill what? The book on the shelf

No teenage boy in Russia would pass the book with ‘To kill’ on the cover. I perused the book looking for illustrations. There were none. It was a thick book though. I looked at the cover again and asked my dad,

-What’s Peresmeshnick (Mockingbird- MS)?

-It is a translation,- my dad said, “In Russia we do not have those birds.”

-We have soroka, I said.

_ Yes, and I heard it is a sin to kill it although it is very noisy, nosy and is the first to warn all the forest about the hunters approaching.

-Is this book about hunting?

-Hunting, indeed, - my dad said, “Something similar to Mark Twain’s. Only modern, 1930s or so. The author is a woman. Like the one who wrote The Gadfly.”

-Boring,- I said.

Women- authors were the automatic turnoff. No self-respecting boy of my age would consider reading a book written by a woman. That was because most of the books for the little kids were written by women and we all went through the sea of nursery rhymes where banner was rhymed with amber and granddad Lenin was the savior of all children on Earth.

The Gadfly, written by Ethel Lilian Voinich, somewhere in 1900s was a different story. That book was immensely popular, an eternal bestseller. There were also at least two movies. Children played in those characters. It was a tough argument but again, no teenager would admit at first that he was interested. Not a chance. Boring.

2. Kolya, the boy wizard

We were sitting with Kolya on the stone wall, eating ice-cream and watching cars.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8


The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Human Coprophagia


They Think Of Us As Slaves ( small note with big conclusion)

Y2012- The Year Of A Coward

The School. Reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in Russia

Glory and Malice


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
7 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

     Your librarian was your g... by mikel paul on Wednesday, Aug 6, 2008 at 5:59:57 PM
is magpie, if my memory serves me. How I miss Sib... by Oh on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 7:57:14 AM
I continue to be more and more amazed by your writ... by Jan Baumgartner on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 11:51:38 AM
mark, was supposed to be working (still am) and i ... by Cheryl Biren on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 at 2:20:17 PM
I am very happy you sent me a letter and with your... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 at 7:10:31 PM
Comment from Ratings:   What a treat, Ma... by Mikhail Lyubansky on Saturday, Sep 6, 2008 at 10:38:43 PM
Great Piece!... by Kevin Tully on Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012 at 7:49:37 AM