28 AUGUST 1964, Page 16

SIR,—The publication of General Gorbatov's memoirs in an amputated form

(The Black Years— reviewed in the Spectator of August 14) demon- strates once again the unsatisfactory situation created by the USSR not being a signatory to any of the international copyright agreements.

When an exciting new book appears in Russia, an English publisher who wishes to put out a trans- lation has two alternatives: either to forge ahead, keeping his translator wprking like a battery hen; or to take it more slowly with the danger that. an- other publisher may get there before him, thus destroying the impact of his own more considered version, and affecting its sales. One consequence must be that many worth-while Russian books never get translated at all.

The author is a victim in all this, but in any event he should not suffer the kind of interpolation which appears in The Black Years. Later this year, under the title Years' Off My Life, Constable will be pub- lishing General Gorbatov's autobiography virtually as it appeared in Novy Mir, with only a few minor cuts. The book covers the period from his peasant boyhood near Moscow to the occupation of Berlin in 1945.


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