Slava Paperno (director)
Raissa Krivitsky
Viktoria Tsimberov
Richard L. Leed (1929-2011)
Lora Paperno (retired)
Slava Paperno
Office: 211 Klarman Hall
Office hours: see Rooms and times
I was born in Moscow, Russia, lived in Leningrad, and now hope to remain forever in Ithaca, NY.
I learned most of my English from Bob Dylan records and mystery novels, but after that I did get a degree in English from The University in Leningrad, and later a degree in Russian from The University in Ithaca.
While living in Russia, I translated respectable books from English into Russian, and my translations were published by respectable publishing houses. The most difficult book to sell was Washington Square by Henry James. It is a novel about people who are wealthy and decent, most of the time. The publishers were not sure why the Soviet public should read it. I took up pipe smoking to remind myself that the true answers lay well below the surface. I switched to cigarettes when working on my most lucrative translation, A Whale for the Killing by the Canadian environmentalist Falrey Mowat: it was reprinted several times by several publishers, while the Soviet whaling fleet continued killing whales.
Books about saving whales were popular in the USSR both with the readers and with the publishers. The readers read them and thought that they belonged to a civilized nation. The publishers published them and knew that they had the readers fooled. I let my hair grow very long in an attempt to disassociate myself from the respectable publishers. But I did eat the food that I bought with their money.
When Lora, our son Maxim, and I emigrated to Ithaca, NY, I stopped smoking and translating, and cut my hair very short. I thought I was in a perfect world, where no one tried to fool anyone else. I made wonderful new friends and met an interesting animal called The Computer. Working with my friends, I designed and published computer software, a few books and dictionaries, and, more recently, an anti-nostalgia Web site on communal apartments in the Soviet Union, all for my students and for other students of Russian around the country. It was all very respectable.
Then I met another exciting animal called The Videocamera, and made more wonderful friends. We made TV documentaries together, mostly in Russia, but also in the U.S., and I discovered that in this part of the world there are also plenty of respectable people who try to fool everybody else, and even more people willing to be fooled. I grew my hair very long again.
My son started his Ithaca career by fixing cars and playing percussion instruments at the local nightclubs and, of course, at the GrassRoots Festival (yes, he's in that video, and so is my granddaughter). He still does that today, but most of his time is now spent running his own Internet company. His hair way longer than mine, and his skepticism far surpasses that of his father. It must be something we ate together back in Russia. We all love what we do. We are a very happy family. In the world of philology and linguistics, the Papernos span the globe from St. Petersburg to Trento to Berkeley.
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Dept. of Comparative literature • Russian Language Program • 240 Goldwin Smith Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
tel. 607/255-4155 • fax 607/255-8177 • email