Barnes, Christopher J. 1942- (Christopher John Barnes)

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Barnes, Christopher J. 1942- (Christopher John Barnes)

PERSONAL:

Born March 10, 1942, in Sheffield, England; son of William (a merchant) and Doris (a teacher) Barnes; married Svetlana Tsapina (a violinist), April 20, 1994; children: (previous marriage) Nicola Stefanie, Julia Claire. Ethnicity: "English." Education: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, B.A., 1963, M.A., 1967, Ph.D., 1970; also attended Moscow State University. Religion: Anglican/Orthodox.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland, lecturer in Russian language and literature, 1967-89; University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, professor of Slavic languages and literatures and department chair, 1989—. Also broadcaster, lecturer, and pianist.

MEMBER:

Modern Language Association of America, Canadian Association of Slavists, British Universities Association of Slavists, Royal Musical Association, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, Association of Teachers of Russian.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) Studies in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature, Scottish Academic Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1976.

(Editor and translator) Boris Pasternak, Collected Short Prose, Praeger (New York, NY), 1977.

(Editor and translator) Boris Pasternak, The Voice of Prose, Volume 1, Grove (New York, NY), 1986, Volume 2, Polygon, 1990.

Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), Volume 1: 1890-1928, 1989, Volume 2: 1928-1960, 1999.

(Editor) Boris Pasternak and European Literature, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Gerald S. Smith) Proceedings of the Pasternak Centenary Conference 1990, [Bristol, England], 1991.

(Translator) Edward Topol, The Jewish Lover (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor) Tatiana Kostaki, compiler, Russian Library Treasures, Russian Cultural Information Publications (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Also editor and translator of The Path to Perfection: Russian Pianists and Moscow Conservatoire Professors on the Art of the Piano, for Kahn & Averill Publishers (London, England).

SIDELIGHTS:

Christopher J. Barnes's two-volume biography of Russian author Boris Pasternak is a "magisterial" achievement, according to Times Literary Supplement critic Donald Rayfield. Pasternak's life and career were marked by great transformations, especially during the 1930s and 1940s, when a repressive cultural climate sprang up in his native country. Yet in Barnes's account of his life, "despite the secrecy and fear of [those years], the narrative flows just as smoothly and the uncertainties are no greater than those for the years when Pasternak's family, intimate and literary correspondence was uncensored and uninhibited," stated Rayfield. The critic felt that the achievement of Volume 1 was outdone only by the exceptional quality of Volume 2.

Pointing out that Pasternak "presents special problems for a biographer" because of deep animosity between surviving members of his family, Rayfield praised Barnes especially for his careful, thorough research: "The amount of paperwork, printed and manuscript, that Barnes has worked through … is monstrous. The restrained, informed and clear judgements he nevertheless makes, testify to his critical and organizational flair." Rayfield concluded that Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography is a "magnificent biography and critique," and David Bethea in New York Times Book Review also described it as "painstakingly researched, elegantly produced and illustrated and gracefully written."

Barnes also won praise for his translation of the Russian best seller The Jewish Lover by Edward Topol. In this multilayered thriller, the title character, Iosef Rubinchik, is a journalist whose avocation is seducing young Russian girls. One of his former conquests is Anna Sigal, now an attorney, who is used as a pawn in a KGB plot to stir up anti-Semitic feeling by exposing Rubinchik's extracurricular activities. Still harboring strong feelings for Rubinchik, Anna sets out to discredit the KGB man who aims to bring him down. "Although the reader is sometimes aware that this is a translation, it's so skillfully done that the author's voice remains strong," commented a Publishers Weekly writer.

Barnes recently told CA: "Over the last few years I have turned increasingly to writings on Russian musical history and on the nexus between literature and music."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 1998, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The Jewish Lover, p. 569.

New York Times Book Review, September 2, 1990, David Bethea, review of Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography, p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1998, review of The Jewish Lover, p. 43.

Times Literary Supplement, February 9-15, 1990, Donald Rayfield, review of Boris Pasternak.

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