17 February 1944
Dear Mr Struve,1
Please forgive me for not writing earlier to thank you for the very kind gift of “25 Years of Soviet Russian Literature”, with its still more kind inscription. I am afraid I know very little about Russian literature and I hope your book will fill up some of the many gaps in my knowledge. It has already roused my interest in Zamyatin’s “We”, which I had not heard of before. I am interested in that kind of book, and even keep making notes for one myself that may get written sooner or later.2 I wonder whether you can tell if there is an adequate translation of Blok? I saw some translated fragments about ten years ago in “Life and Letters”, but whether they were any good as a translation I do not know.
I am writing a little squib which might amuse you when it comes out, but it is so not O.K. politically that I don’t feel certain in advance that anyone will publish it. Perhaps that gives you a hint of its subject.3
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- Gleb Struve (1898-1985), born in St. Petersburg, taught at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University, 1932-47, and was Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature, University of California, Berkeley, 1947-65. He was the author of Soviet Literature 1911-50 and Russian Literature in Exile.
- This is Orwell’s first reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- Animal Farm.