IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH

Rūdolfs Blaumanis
Translated from the Latvian by Uldis Balodis

Rūdolfs Blaumanis’s 1899 short story masterpiece, based on a contemporary newspaper account, tells of several fishermen lost at sea after the ice floe on which they work calves off and drifts away rapidly. One by one, the thirteen men and a boy must deal with the creeping reality that they may not see the mainland – or their loved ones – again. There is fish to eat, and two horses if necessary, but the very surface of the ice slab is eroding steadily … and the nights are cold and terrible.

Without ever moralising or over-elaborating, Blaumanis coolly and efficiently observes the state of each of the main characters in turn, whether natural leaders, optimists, craven opportunists, terrified, stoic, compassionate or alienated. In the shadow of encroaching death, each must come to some kind of reckoning.

RŪDOLFS KĀRLIS LEONĪDS BLAUMANIS (1863–1908), one of Latvia’s greatest writers, is noted especially for his numerous short stories and plays, and for his command of literary realism. He began writing in his twenties. Energised by the social issues of the day, he honed a deep sympathy for the lives of ordinary Latvians. A newspaper editor as well as a celebrated author, he helped raise the standards of written Latvian and inspired a new generation of Latvian writers.

ULDIS BALODIS was born in Sweden but grew up in Arizona, a descendant of the World War Two Latvian refugee community in the United States, and is a native speaker of Latvian and English. He has studied over thirty languages, including Navajo, Sanskrit and Sámi, and holds a PhD in Linguistics with a special interest in endangered and less-spoken languages. His forthcoming translations include Zigmunds Skujiņš’s novel Nakedness and Trillium, the first-ever anthology of poetry in English and Livonian (an endangered Finnic language native to Latvia), for which he was a contributing translator. He has spent the last few years documenting the lives, stories and language of the descendants of the Lutsi Estonian community of Latgale (eastern Latvia), and has also published a reference grammar of the Yuki language, native to Mendocino County in Northern California.

ISBN 9781911475361 – Paperback – 110 mm x 140 mm – 64 pages
 – £2.99

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