Whitney, Thomas P. 1917-2007 (Thomas Porter Whitney)

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Whitney, Thomas P. 1917-2007 (Thomas Porter Whitney)


See index for SATA sketch: Born January 26, 1917, in Toledo, OH; died December 2, 2007, in New York, NY. Diplomat, political and social analyst, journalist, executive, translator, and author. Whitney spent nearly ten years in the former Soviet Union, first as an attaché and section chief at the U.S. embassy in Moscow after World War II, then as an Associated Press correspondent and bureau chief. He developed an appreciation for all things Russian, and over many years acquired a substantial collection of Russian books, art, manuscripts, and correspondence, which he later donated to the Russian studies center that he founded at his alma mater, Amherst College. He is best known for his translations of the work of Soviet dissident and labor camp survivor Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Whitney earned respect for these translations, in part because of their difficulty level. Solzhenitsyn peppered his writings with the idiom of the prisons and labor camps and the samizdat (literary underground), and he often invented words of his own. This, along with the lack of personal access to the author, made Whitney's task complicated, not least because Solzhenitsyn was still alive and very particular about how his work would appear in English. Whitney's translations of Solzhenitsyn include the novel The First Circle (1968) and The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (1974-75), but this work revealed only one side of his career. Whitney worked as a news analyst in New York City in the 1950s and as the president and chair of Whitney Enterprises from 1966 to 1973. He was also a bookseller, editor, and author. He described his years in Stalinist Russia in the memoir Russia in My Life (1962). He wrote a children's book, Vasilisa the Beautiful (1970), and translated various other books for children and adults. He also edited the papers of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.



Whitney, Thomas P., Russia in My Life, Reynal (New York, NY), 1962.


New York Times, December 12, 2007, p. C13.

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Whitney, Thomas P. 1917-2007 (Thomas Porter Whitney)

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