ARKHANGELSK. We don’t know very much about the literature of our neighbours in the Barents Region. The standard introduction is still the anthology ”Where the roads begin” published in five languages in the late 90´s.
An important book for Westerners to understand the Pomor culture at the shores of the White Sea is Boris Shergin’s ”Et bukk for far”, published with Russian and Norwegian parallel texts. Shergin (1896 – 1973) was a major writer of north Russian epic and folklore. He wrote works for children and adults, and illustrated many of the books himself.
”Et bukk for far” gives short stories from Arkhangelsk and Svalbard. The moral of the Pomor people can be clearly understood when reading. Honesty, diligence and loyalty are some virtues which are highlighted in the book. The Pomors were also known as daring sailors on the high seas. Some stayed the cold and dark winter on Svalbard (Grumant in Pomor dialect), in tough conditions that really demanded self discipline and perseverance.
The book’s translator Marit Bjerkeng has made an important contribution to the understanding of the Pomor culture. Bjerkeng is working as lecturer at the Finnmark University College and has translated many works from Russian.