Monday,18 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Monday,18 December, 2017
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

The ambassador’s mum

cu23
cu23
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Russian orientalist Valeria Kerbatchenko, 83, who was honoured last month at the Supreme Council of Culture for her translation of Arabic literature into Russian over the last 50 years, writes Sarah Mourad, was happy to be officially honoured. But she was even happier to see Cairo after so many years; when last she visited, it was in the 1970s. Kerbatchenko graduated from a Soviet consultancy institute in Moscow with a degree in Arabic in 1952. It was Kharlemnby Parnono, author of the principal Russian-Arabic dictionary: “He made me understand the importance of the language and fall in love with it.” On graduating Kerbatchenko was already married  to Vadim Kerbatchenko, an army officer who was posted to the Soviet embassy in Egypt in 1954. “I was working as a translator at that time, and the news made me really happy. That was the first time I visited Egypt. My son Sergei, now the Russian ambassador to Egypt, was only three years old.”
Kerbatchenko had twin girls in Egypt 1959, whereupon the family moved to Tunis and back onto Moscow where she worked in the Oriental Studies Centre and continued her studies. “In 1970, I received my PhD on the work of Youssef Edriss, whom I had met and interviewed before. In the same year my husband and I returned to Cairo where my husband worked in the embassy again. We stayed until 1974.” Kerbatchenko never stopped studying Arabic, especially Egyptian, literature. She has since published a book on Naguib Mahfouz in addition to two volumes on Arabic literature in the 19th and 20th centuries. Only two years ago, Kerbatchenko published a book a translation of the 19th-century scholar Rifaa Al-Tahtawi’s seminal Takhliss Al-Ibriz fi Talkhiss Paris (Extracting the Gold in the Summary of Paris). She chose the book because she believes it is a bridge between east and west, she says; it remains important to studying the connection between the two parts of the world.

add comment

  
 
 
  • follow us on