Leonid Andreyev’s The Red Laugh is an experimental depiction of war and its psychological effects, both on those who participate in the fighting and on those who hear of its atrocities from afar. Translated into English for the first time since 1905, it is here paired with a fresh translation of Andreyev’s earlier story “The Abyss,” which caused scandal upon its first publication. This edition provides an illuminating introduction by translator Kirsten Lodge as well as a range of background materials that help set the novel in its historical, literary, and artistic contexts.
“Leonid Andreyev, a key Russian modernist, deserves to be better known to Anglophone readers. Kirsten Lodge’s superb translations of “The Abyss” and The Red Laugh provide a worthy remedy. These stories surprise and even shock us by striking through the fragile veneer of modern civilization to reveal the anxieties, vulnerabilities, and darkest corners of the psyche beneath. Included here are two of Andreyev’s best and most notorious works of short fiction. Lodge has beautifully captured the nuances, ambiguities, and rhythms of these stylistically quite different but equally disturbing narratives. Like Lodge’s other outstanding translations from the Russian published by Broadview, this volume includes an admirably concise yet thorough introduction and a judicious selection of contemporary images and brief contextualizing secondary texts. It, too, is ideal for classroom use, but any reader of world literature will find it accessible and illuminating.” — David Powelstock, Brandeis University
“This edition of two key literary texts of the years preceding Russia’s 1905 revolution re-establishes Leonid Andreyev as one of that period’s most influential artistic figures. Andreyev’s The Red Laugh, an expressionist tour de force designed to convey the insanity of warfare, and ‘The Abyss,’ a shocking exploration of the depravity underlying sexual relations, caused sensations well captured by Kirsten Lodge’s deft translation, insightful introduction, and judiciously chosen contextual material. The book would grace the course lists of those teaching modern Russian literature and history and is essential reading for anyone wishing to relive the zeitgeist of Andreyev’s tumultuous times.” — Stephen Hutchings, University of Manchester
“Part symbolist, part realist, Leonid Andreyev was a unique and influential figure in Russian modernism. In this new translation, Kirsten Lodge brilliantly conveys the horror of two works that have lost none of their power to shock. Her concise introduction as well as her superb selection of correspondence and reviews provide essential contexts for understanding Andreyev’s achievement. This book will be a valuable addition not only to courses on twentieth-century Russian literature, but also to more general courses on European modernism, on war, and on sexuality.” — Michael Wachtel, Princeton University
“For instructors looking to include a literary, anti-war response to the Russo-Japanese War in their Russian history or history of warfare classes, Lodge’s translation of The Red Laugh and appended materials are sure to lead to memorable discussion. The sources touch on discussions of madness, war, and society, but also on the communication of those ideas. A useful introduction puts Leonid Andreyev’s works in context, and a helpful appendix shows the influences and the responses to his writing. Through this collection, instructors seeking something different from the other classic Russian literary figures of the period can introduce students to Andreyev’s unique and provocative works.” — Oleksa Drachewych, Western University