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Thomas Kitson Translates “PhiloSophia” by Ilya Zdanevich (Iliazd)
April 30, 2024

Thomas Kitson (Harriman Postdoctoral Fellow 2010-11) is the translator of “PhiloSophia” (Rab-Rab Press, 2024), which collects Ilya Zdanevich’s fictional autobiographical writings based on his one-year stay in Istanbul in 1921. It contains excerpts from the three final chapters of “PhiloSophia,” a massive novel he wrote in 1930, depicting an obscure revolutionary plot evolving around Hagia Sophia. This volume also presents the first two chapters of Zdanevich’s 1929 epistolary novel Letters to Morgan Philips Price. The “letters” are addressed to an English journalist with whom he had written an anti-war editorial published in the Manchester Guardian in 1916, while both were reporting on Russia’s Caucasus Front.”

Illustrated with Zdanevich’s sketches of Hagia Sophia and other Byzantine churches, the volume concludes with a dizzying text by Odesa-born artist Nikolay Karabinovych, remixing “PhiloSophia” tailored to the “new architecture of collective security” of today’s wars and empires. Inspired by Zdanevich’s paradoxical graphomania, Karabinovych’s intervention undoes centuries-long imperial narratives.

Kitson is the translator of Zdanevich’s “Rapture,” published by Columbia University Press in 2017.