In 2002 Ardis Publishers, a company specializing in translations of Russian literature was acquired. Founded in 1971 by Russian scholars Carl and Ellender Proffer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, its goal was to bring to the West contemporary writers working in the Soviet Union and to offer American scholars critical editions and superior translations of the great Russian literature of the early twentieth century and lesser known but important earlier classics.
The Proffers were instrumental in bringing Joseph Brodsky to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and to Ardis.
There’s even a film about Ardis publishers.
The Ardis list includes works by Mikhail Bulgakov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anna Akhmatova, Fyodor Sologub, Alexander Pushkin, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Osip Mandelstam in acclaimed translations by among others Walter Arndt, Vladimir Nabokov, S.D. Cioran, Diana Burgin, Ronald Meyer, and Katherine O’Connor.
Overlook itself publishes a growing list of Russian books in English such as Today I Wrote Nothing by Daniil Kharms translated by Matvei Yankelevich, Russian Booker Prize winner 2017 by Olga Slavnikova translated by Marian Schwartz, Daniel Stein, Interpreter by Ludmila Ulitskaya translated by Arch Tait, and the Labyrinths of Echo series, a ten-part international bestseller by Max Frei, translated by Polly Gannon and Ast. A. Moore.
The name “Ardis” comes from the novel Ada by Vladimir Nabokov. In the novel, an estate named Ardis located in a mythical place blending attributes of both Russia
and America is a symbol of cultural exchange between two literary traditions. Today more than ever we believe that Ardis has a vital role to play and join with the founders who believed that Alexander Pushkin was right when he described literary translators as the “post-horses of enlightenment.”
The Firebird in Russian folklore is a fiery, illuminated bird; magical, iconic, and coveted. Its feathers continue to glow when removed, and a single feather, it is said, can light up a room. Some who claim to have seen the Firebird say it even has glowing eyes.
The Firebird is often the object of a quest. In one famous tale, the Firebird needs to be captured to prevent it from stealing the king’s golden apples, a fruit bestowing youth and strength on those who partake of the fruit.
But in other stories, the Firebird has another mission: it is always flying over the earth providing hope to any who may need it. In modern times and in the West, the Firebird has become part of world culture. In Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Firebird is a creature half-woman and half-bird, and the ballerina’s role is considered by many to be the most demanding in the history of ballet.
The Overlook Press in the U.S. and Gerald Duckworth in the UK, in adopting the Firebird as the logo for its expanding Ardis publishing program, consider that this magical, glowing creature—in legend, come to Russia from a faraway land—will play a role in bringing Russia and its literature closer to readers everywhere.
For more book reviews you can go to overlookpress.com.