Now available on YouTube: Launch of Derek Davis translation of Pushkin’s ‘A Journey to Arzrum during the Campaign of 1829’



There was a Poet whose untimely tomb…”

                                                                                                Shelley Alastor


Much has happened since the launch of my translation of Pushkin’s Arzrum [Erzurum] on 25 October.

At RAS, Dr Edward Weech’s Chinese Dreams in Romantic England was launched in December, representing the culmination of many years’ work. Dr Weech, the Society’s Librarian, enterprisingly organised fundraising and acquisition of the Manning archive. His comprehensive account of Thomas Manning’s pioneering Chinese studies, travels to Lhasa and friendships with Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Shelley brings Regency fascination with the Orient vividly to life. In February the Society presented a Festschrift to Dr Barbara Brend, its Vice-President, whose expertise on Persian painting is treasured by all. These and other activities show a characteristic RAS style of learned endeavour continuing to thrive as we approach the 2023 Bicentenary.

Eurasia has been constantly in the news. The sustained conflict in the Ukraine necessarily reaches right back to Russia’s entry on to the European stage under Peter the Great. Conduct of warfare contrasts with 1828-9 Russian military successes in the Caucasus, the unique ingredients in which are explored in my Pushkin commentary. Reverberations have served to spotlight the whole Asian continent, modern economic realities and shifting geopolitics.

The Pushkin launch on 25 October was a memorable occasion. Unfortunately, a transmission equipment fault meant that friends and colleagues attempting to follow on Zoom, including Professor Andrew Kahn who holds the chair of Russian Literature at Oxford, and Professor Angela Brintlinger at Ohio State University, were unable to hear. Sir Tony Brenton and I have, therefore, re-recorded our talks and Dr Gordon Johnson kindly led us in a repeat discussion.



Pushkin’s messages about inclusiveness and tolerance remain as relevant as they were when Arzrum was published in 1836 and at last October’s launch.


Derek Davis



Introduction by Professor Bradley Camp Davis, JRAS Book Review Editor

As a historian whose work lies at several crossroads, editing book reviews for the Journal is an excellent opportunity to build bridges within and between disciplinary and regional fields. Although my own research examines Southeast Asia and China, combining history and anthropology, I take a capacious view of Asian studies and plan to use the Journal’s reviews section to host stimulating intellectual discussion of recent scholarship, including work in English and other languages. With solicited contributions from scholars in the globally framed and multi-disciplinary field of Asian studies, the Journal’s book reviews will place our readers at the leading edge of the worldwide academic conversation.

–Policy statement–
At this time, the Journal is not accepting unsolicited submissions of book reviews.



Notice from Dr Ed Weech, RAS librarian

The Society will soon be holding its next Collections Evening, which will take place on Thursday 23 March. This is the latest in a series of annual events showcasing ongoing work to catalogue, conserve, and understand the Society’s historic collections, including an opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with some lesser-known items in the Society’s Reading Room. We look forward to sharing more information about the Collections Evening in next week’s blog – stay tuned until then!