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A Soviet gulag in 1945. (Getty Images)

Things Worth Remembering: The Extraordinary Courage of Tatiana Gnedich

Condemned to ten years in the gulag, the scholar sat in her cell and translated an epic poem—all 16,000 lines—from memory.

Welcome back to Douglas Murray’s Sunday column, Things Worth Remembering, where he presents passages from great poets he has committed to memory—and explains why you should, too. To listen to Douglas tell the story of Tatiana Gnedich and read part of the work she translated, Lord Byron’s “Don Juan,” click below.

Here I am going to break one of my own rules, and dedicate a column to a translator of a poet, rather than an actual poet. I cannot stop myself from doing so. For it is necessary to pause and to say the name of Tatiana Gnedich.

I started this series talking about the significance of one act of memory—that of Boris Pasternak and the thousands of Russian writers in 1937 who knew Pasternak’s translation of Shakespeare by heart. Pasternak was then, as now, a famous writer. His own act of translation and memory cannot be diminished. But if it could ever have been superseded, then it is by a woman who almost nobody in the English-speaking world has heard of.

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