Samuel Koteliansky (18801955) fled the pogroms of Russia in 1911 and established himself as a friend of many of Britains literati and intellectuals, who were fascinated by his homelands more civilized side: the Ballets Russes, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. Kot, as he was known, soon became an indispensable guide to Russian culture for Englands leading writers, artists, and intellectuals, who in turn helped introduce English audiences to Russian works.
A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury looks at the remark able life and influence that an outsider had on the tightly knit circle of Britains cultural elite. Among Kotelianskys friends were Katherine Mansfield, Leonard and Virginia Woolf for whose Hogarth Press he translated many Russian classics Mark Gertler, Lady Ottoline Morrell, H.G. Wells, and Dilys Powell. But it was his close and turbulent friendship with D.H. Lawrence, with whom he had copious correspondence, that proved to be Kotelianskys lasting legacy. In a lively and vibrant narrative, Galya Diment shows how, despite Kots determination, he could never shake off the dark aspects of his past or overcome the streak of anti-Semitism that ran through British society and could be found in many of his famous literary friends.
A stirring account of the early-twentieth century, Jewish émigré life, and
English and Russian letters, A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury casts new light and shadows on the giants of English modernism.
He [Koteliansky] did co-translate several Dostoevsky- and Tolstoy- related titles with Leonard and Virginia Woolf, having taught them some Russian in the process, but his co-translations with Mansfield and her husband John Middleton Murry were equally numerous, and he taught Russian to H. G. Wellss son Gip as well. At one point in his life, Kot wrote letters almost daily to Lady Ottoline Morrell, but at another he was doing the same to the American author May Sarton.... Kot was instrumental in bringing Cressets attention manuscripts by well-established authors, such as Richardsons Clear Horizon and Wellss Experiment in Autobiography, as well as writers less advanced in their careers, such as Dilys Powell, who subsequently wrote Kots obituary for The Times." Andrei Rogatchevski, Times Literary Supplement, March 23rd 2012
"Galya Diment has done it again. The author of the acclaimed Pniniad, about Nabokov's major model for his legendary Russian lecturer, now turns to another Russian Jew with a still wider resonance in English literature. Part biography, part cultural history of the early twentieth-century impact of Russian literature on English literature (focusing on Koteliansky as a conduit and catalyst), and part exploration of being Jewish and foreign in England and in Bloomsbury, the book teems with vivid vignettes of the emotionally complicated Koteliansky, his close friend D.H. Lawrence (and his foe Frieda Lawrence), Katherine Mansfield, Virginia and Leonard Woolf, H.G. Wells, and many more. A fascinating read for lovers of literature, culture, history, and personality." Brian Boyd, author of Vladimir Nabokov and On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction
"A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury brings to light the life of a significant yet regrettably little-known figure. It is a fascinating look into how Jewishness, as well as Russianness, figured in the circles of a number of eminent twentieth-century writers. In the later chapters, the material on the Holocaust poignantly reminds us that the literary and cultural trends of early twentieth-century Europe cannot be separated from the horrific events of 1939--45." Meri-Jane Rochelson, author of A Jew in the Public Arena: The Career of Israel Zangwill
"While the name Samuel Solomonovich Koteliansky is familiar to readers of D.H. Lawrence, 'Kot's' life has remained undocumented until now. Traveling to the Ukraine, Galya Diment meticulously researches Koteliansky family lore and describes Kot's move to London where he collaborated with Bloomsbury writers in translating Russian works into English. Important letters, diaries, and narratives are published for the first time, and Diment provides an essential "Who's Who" to Kot's life in England. Vividly written, A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury fills the gap in understanding why England's writers and artists were drawn to the difficult and colorful occupant of 5 Acacia Road." George Zytaruk, author of The Quest for Rananim: D.H. Lawrence's Letters to S.S. Koteliansky and D.H. Lawrence's Response to Russian Literature
"Galya Diment's A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury makes a genuine contribution to English literary culture in the first half of the 20th century. Through painstaking research Diment is able to document Kot's life in remarkable detail. Unpublished letters that relate to D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, the Woolfs, and others provide a variety of perspectives that greatly enrich our understanding of the period." Keith Cushman, author of D.H. Lawrence at Work
We owe Galya Diment, chair and professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington, Seattle, a debt of gratitude for the exhaustive way she has brought to life a genuine part of Londons literati scene at a vital time. Using unpublished material, she exposes the tumult and the tittle-tattle of life behind the creative curtain that adds a new dimension to the lives of authors we revere today. Gerald Isaaman, Camden New Journal, May 3rd 2012