Tales of Belkin
Translated by Joshua Billings
Part of The Art of the Novella
“Ivan Petrovich Belkin left behind a great number of manuscripts … Most of them, as Ivan Petrovich told me, were true stories heard from various people.”
First published anonymously in 1830, Alexander Pushkin’s Tales of Belkin contains his first prose works. It is comprised of an introductory note and five linked stories, ostensibly collected by the scholar Ivan Belkin. The stories center variously around military figures, the wealthy, and businessmen; this beautiful novella gives a vivid portrait of nineteenth century Russian life.
It has become, as well, one of the most beloved books in Russian literary history, and symbolic of the popularity of the novella form in Russia. In fact, it has become the namesake for Russia’s most prestigious annual literary prize, the Belkin Prize, given each year to a book voted by judges to be the best novella of the year.
It is presented here in a sparkling new translation by Josh Billings. Tales of Belkin also highlights the nature of our ongoing Art of the Novella Series—that is, that it specializes in important although albeit lesser-known works by major writers, often in new translations.