A new English translation of Leonid Solovyov's "Disturber of the Peace"
December 18, 2009 9:35 AM   Subscribe

A new English translation of Leonid Solovyov's "Disturber of the Peace"
Hodja Nasreddin is a legendary folk character in the Middle East and Central Asia. While living and working in Central Asia in the first half of the 20th century, Soviet writer Leonid Solovyov collected many anecdotes and stories featuring Nasreddin, eventually using them as the basis for The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin, which consists of two novels: Disturber of the Peace and The Enchanted Prince. This is a translation of the first novel.

Although Solovyov's Nasreddin is based on Central Asian folk tales, he is a distinct and unique character. While the traditional Nasreddin is usually portrayed as a satirical and philosophical figure, Solovyov's Nasreddin is an active subverter of tyranny, defender of the downtrodden, and a thorn in the side of the powers that be. It is no surprise that the novel features significant Soviet overtones, but at its core Disturber of the Peace is an honest and exciting adventure that champions ingenuity and freedom, and defies tyranny, oppression, and corruption.

Author biography: Leonid Vasilyevich Solovyov was born in 1906 in the city of Tripoli, Lebanon, where his parents had been working for the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. In 1909, the family returned to Russia; in 1921, it moved to Kokand, Uzbekistan. Solovyov worked for several regional newspapers and, during his travels in Uzbekistan’s Fergana Province, studied regional folklore.

In 1930, Solovyov left for Moscow and enrolled in the literary and screenwriting program at the Institute of Cinematography, graduating in 1932. While living in Moscow, Solovyov wrote a number of novels, short stories, and screenplays. Disturber of the Peace – the first part of Solovyov’s best known work, The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin – was published in 1939. During the Second World War, Solovyov served as a war correspondent and produced several wartime stories and screenplays.

In 1946, Solovyov was accused of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against the Soviet state. He was interred in several prison camps until 1954, when he was cleared of all charges and released. The second part of The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin, subtitled The Enchanted Prince, was written in the camps and completed around 1950. After his imprisonment, Solovyov settled in Leningrad. The two parts of The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin were published together for the first time in 1956 and enjoyed a very favorable reception. However, the author’s health began to decline, and he passed away in 1962.
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