The Unmaking of Russians

This study, conducted by Dr Maguire, will focus on the career of Nicholas Wreden, a Russian émigré who built a unique career as an editor and translator in the United States between the 1920s and his death at the height of the McCarthyist era. As a translator, he was able to ‘filter’ public access to his native culture by choosing only anti-Soviet authors, like Gaito Gazdanov and Mark Aldanov, for translation. As an editor and publishing executive with major firms Scribner’s and E.P. Dutton, he had even greater influence over public perceptions – particularly as he occupied an influential position in government-funded bodies such as the Russian-language Chekhov Publishing House, which was really a clearing house for excluding Russians who might have be Soviet spies or retain Communist sympathies. Researching Wreden’s life opens a unique window on Russophone émigré communities in the US during this period. How did exiled Russians construct an American identity? What role did translated fiction play during this period in shaping American perceptions of Russia? How did intellectual Russians, such as Wreden, Gleb Struve and Vladimir Nabokov, act as ‘gatekeepers’ of their own culture?