Translator’s Introduction
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xxiii Translator’s Introduction In trying to recall when I first learned of Vladimir K. Arsenyev, I admit a hazy memory. Since 1995—when I was nineteen years old—I have been traveling to the region formerly called the Ussuri Kray (now Primorye, or Primorsky Kray), where Arsenyev is a constant like the Sikhote-Alin Mountains and familiar like the tiger on the Vladivostok city crest. The first time I was drawn to read Arsenyev’s books was more than a decade ago. I was with colleagues at the Amginsky waterfalls in Primorye , 100 kilometers north of the coastal village of Terney, where I was living at the time. The falls were accessible via a half-day’s drive along a logging road cut through the forest only a few years prior. It was summer and we hiked to the falls not by the narrow foot path that leads up the Amgu River to the lower falls, but rather downriver, off trail and bushwhacking, sweaty and muddy, past a series of low cascades. Then suddenly we were on the lip, peering down over the edge of the Black Shaman—thelargestandmostmajesticoftheAmginskywaterfalls—to the canyon pool some 30 meters below. We hiked down and around it, then sat by the pool’s edge, panting but otherwise in silence, with necks craned toward the arresting beauty before us and cooled by the fine mist it cast off. “Arsenyev was here,” said one of my companions introspectively , but shouting over the waterfall’s din so the rest of us could hear. It was a phrase I had heard for years, wherever I went: Arsenyev was here. But before that moment the weight of those words had never really sunk in, and I began to realize what an incredible person Arsenyev must have been. The difficulty of his expeditions and the sheer grit it took to carry them out was staggering. It was even more remarkable that he had had xxiv Translator’s Introduction the fortitude, day in and day out, to commit his observations to paper so the rest of us would know the splendor of this place he called the Ussuri Kray. I sat there in the shade of the gorge reflecting on this. I had just walked a handful of kilometers off trail and was now exhausted, covered withscratchesfrombranchesandthorns,andfranklyproudofmyselffor the achievement. In contrast, by the time Arsenyev reached these falls he had already been on the trail for about three months and had walked hundreds of kilometers. Although I speak and read Russian with modest fluency, I do not read books in Russian for pleasure. Such tasks are always done with dictionary in hand and are not particularly relaxing. Therefore, when I finally got around to tracking Arsenyev down, I looked first to translation . I found and consumed Malcolm Burr’s (1939) effort called Dersu the Trapper, then looked for what other Arsenyev translations in English I could find. I encountered two more: Dersu Uzala, translated by Victor Shneersonin1950,and With Dersu the Hunter: Adventures in the Taiga,an obscure 1965 adaptation by Anne Terry White. All three told the same story. To my shock and surprise, nothing else had been translated in English. How could thisbe, when Arsenyev has arichlist ofpublications and a dedicated following in Russia to this day? Things started to make a little more sense after I found a reprint of Arsenyev’s original Across the Ussuri Kray (1921), which was an account of his 1902 and 1906 expeditions, and Dersu Uzala (1923), which described his 1907 expedition. Anyone who has read any of the existing English translations knows that these versions describe all three expeditions .Infact,Burr’stranslationwasbasedonaheavilyedited1926Soviet amalgamation of the original 1921 Across the Ussuri Kray and 1923 Dersu Uzala called In the Wilds of the Ussuri Kray, while Shneerson’s is of a similarly redacted 1944 consolidation confusingly named Dersu Uzala. White’s adaptation is simply a shortened version of Shneerson’s translation .ThismeansthatEnglish-languageaudiencesknowonlyaportionof the story Arsenyev was trying to tell. Here, in English for the first time, is the unabridged and original version of Across the Ussuri Kray, printed by Echo Publishers in Vladivostok in 1921, at the height of the Russian Civil War. Even readers who think they know Arsenyev and Dersu will find copious new material here, including many additional descriptions Translator’s Introduction xxv oftheRussian,Chinese,Korean,andindigenousinhabitantsoftheKray at that unique place and time. The text is enriched by Arsenyev’s own photographs from these expeditions, many of which...



Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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