Борис Штейн (Boriss Štein)

Short stories Boriss Štein


Boriss Štein (22. I 1933 – 8. III 2017) was a Russian poet and prose writer living in the Estonian SSR, and a prolific translator of Estonian poetry.

He was born in Leningrad into a Russian Jewish family. He attended the higher naval school. After graduating in 1955 he was directed into the service of the Baltic fleet. He worked on ships and at the Paldiski naval base. Štein started writing romantic poems and lyrical prose, which was published in a naval newspaper, but soon also in Estonia’s Russian-language press. His first poetry collection Лебедь-остров (‘Swan Island’) appeared in Tallinn in 1966.

After being released from military service in 1973, Boriss Štein stayed on in Estonia. From 1972 he belonged to the Writers’ Union of the USSR. He left Estonia in 1990 and settled in Moscow. From there he moved to Israel, where he died in 2017. His ties with Estonia remained: in 2016 his humorous and worldly-wise short stories appeared in the Russian-language journal Таллинн.

While living in Estonia, Boriss Štein held very diverse jobs: he was a forestry worker, a stevedore, an elephant keeper in a zoo, a dramaturge in a theatre and one of the editors of the literary journal Радуга. From 1973 to 1983, with intervals, Štein worked as a consultant to the Russian section of the Estonian Writers’ Union. He was a close associate of the famous novelist Sergei Dovlatov, who lived in Estonia and who used Štein as a prototype in one of his works.

Štein’s early poetry is characterised by the romance of the sea, optimism and a sense of harmony and of humour. His later poems are more thoughtful, reflecting the contradictions of life. Some of his lyrics are inspired by the Old Town of Tallinn.

Boriss Štein’s work is diverse. In addition to poetry and short stories he wrote fairy-tales and one play, Люди и птицы (‘People and Birds’, 1978). In 1978 he produced a documentary description of everyday life on the construction site of the Baikal-Amur Highway, complemented with verses.

Štein translated poetry by Betti Alver, Henrik Adamson, Ernst Enno, Paul Haavaoks, Manivald Kesamaa, Juhan Liiv, Ellen Niit, Arvi Siig, Juhan Smuul and Mats Traat into Russian. He took part in compiling a collection by Estonian Russian-language poets.

L. P. (Translated by C. M.)


Books in Russian

Лебедь-остров: стихи. Таллин: Ээсти раамат, 1966. 98 pp.
Сквозняки: стихи и переводы. Таллин: Ээсти раамат, 1969. 134 pp.
Подорожник: стихи, баллады, переводы. Таллин: Ээсти раамат, 1975. 139 pp.
Вечерний ветер: стихи. Таллин: Ээсти Раамат, 1983. 175 pp.
Живу в гуманном Ашкелоне: стихи разных лет. Тель-Авив, 2007. 48 pp.

Военно-эротический роман и другие истории. Тель-Авив; Москва: Книга-Сэфер, 2007. 185 pp.

Short prose
Начало личной жизни [рассказы для среднего и старшего школьного возраста]. Таллинн: Ээсти раамат, 1977. 48 pp.
Донный лед: повесть. Москва: Советский писатель, 1981. 215 pp.
Отплытие: рассказы. Таллинн: Ээсти раамат, 1981. 206 pp.
Товарищ Волшебник: правдивая новогодняя сказка. Таллинн: Ээсти раамат, 1982. 11 pp.
Солнце на перекладине [повесть]. Таллинн: Ээсти рааамат, 1990. 60 pp.
Порт: повести. Москва: Советский писатель, 1991. 318 pp.
Маленький мудрец: детективная повесть. Кфар-Саба: Книга-Сефер, 2011. 286 pp.
Сказки для всех. Ашкелон: Б. Штейн, 2012. 187 pp.

Там, где ходили изюбры: сто дней на БАМ-е. Таллинн: Ээсти раамат, 1978. 78 pp.