Archive for July 16th, 2013

How a small U.S. publisher pipped the U.S.S.R.

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Like mother…

Some time ago we posted about the fall event at the University of Michigan commemorating Carl Proffer and Ardis, the publishing house he co-founded with his wife (and MacArthur “genius” fellow) Ellendea Proffer.  Ardis published the best Russian literature in an era when the Soviet government wouldn’t.  The film we included in that post ended with the youngest of their four children, Arabella Proffer.

Arabella grew up be an artist, and has a blog called Arty Farty.  In a recent post, “A Little Bit About Ardis,” she describes how she’s currently preparing videos for the conference. Some of them feature such writers as Lev Razgon and Emma Gerstein – and one is her own interview with her mum, talking about Ardis in 1999.  It begins:

“When we started Ardis, we never saw our readers. We saw our writers, the people we were publishing, but we didn’t come in contact with our real readers. The people who got the smuggled books in their hands in Siberia, for example.  The people who took copies of Nabokov and Bulgakov and Brodsky to the Ukraine, for example. We knew our little worlds in Leningrad and Moscow, where all the writers were and the people connected to them. They were very excited about what we were doing, but of course these weren’t exactly the people we were doing it for. And we met those people only a couple times in our life – Carl only once, unfortunately…”

Watch the rest here: