The Melting Pot: Russian Jewish New York

Case 3: Writers: Mirra Ginsburg > Mirra Ginsburg and Kornei Chukovskii

Correspondence between Mirra Ginsburg and Kornei Chukovskii - this truly epistolary friendship - lasted until Chukovskii’s death in 1969.


In his letter to Mirra Ginsburg sent from Peredelkino and dated September 12, 1965, Kornei Chukovskii writes: “My dear friend, I know your name quite well. I have read in your translations Taibele and her Demon, Big and Little, The Fast Gimpel and would not hesitate to rank you as I rank such masters of translation as my beloved Saul Bellow, the translator ofGimpel the Fool. Of course, I understand how excruciating it is to translate Isaac Bashevis Singer but in your translation I can sense an unattainable original. I haven’t finished reading your translation yet but I really liked it. There is not a gram of hack-work, as often happen with American translators (Guerney, Babette Deutsch and others).  You are not a craftsman, you are an artist.

Mirra Ginsburg in her letter of October 4, 1965, expresses her appreciation for a letter of Kornei Chukovskii, whose opinion she highly respected. Besides the discussion about her translation, Chukovskii in his letter asked Mirra to send him a photo of Isaac Singer, whom he admired. Mirra writes back that the very same morning, when she got his letter, she had breakfast with Singer, and they selected a few photos for him.



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