The Witching Hour and Other Plays

The Witching Hour and Other Plays

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Nina Sadur
Edited by Nadya L. Peterson
With an introduction by Mark Lipovetsky and an afterword by Karin Sarsenov

ISBN: 9781618113986 (hardback) / 9781618113993 (paper)
Pages: 204 pp.
Publication Date: August 2014

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Nina Sadur, the playwright, occupies a prominent place in the Soviet/Russian drama pantheon of the 1980s and 1990s, a group that has with few exceptions been generally ignored by the Western literary establishment. The plays included in this volume offer some of Sadur’s most influential works for the theater to the English-speaking audience for the first time. The collection will appeal to readers interested in Russian literature and culture, Russian theater, as well as women’s literature. Sadur’s plays are inspired by symbolist drama, the theater of the absurd and Russian folklore, yet are also infused with contemporary reality and populated by contemporary characters. Her work is overtly gynocentric: the fictional world construes women’s traditionally downplayed concerns as narratively and existentially central and crucial. Sadur’s drama has exerted a tremendous influence on contemporary Russian literature. Working essentially in isolation, Sadur was able to combine the early twentieth century dramatic discourse with that of the late Soviet era. Having built a bridge between the two eras, Sadur prepared the rise of the new Russian drama of the 2000s.

Born in Riga, Latvia, Nadya L. Peterson was educated in Moscow, Russia and received her PhD in Russian literature from Indiana University. She is currently an associate professor of Russian at Hunter College of the City University of New York and the head of the Russian and Slavic Studies Program at Hunter. Dr. Peterson is also on the faculty of the doctoral program in the department of Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is a specialist on contemporary Russian prose and women’s literature. She is the author of Subversive Imaginations: Fantastic Prose and the End of Soviet Literature, 1970s–1990s and of a number of articles on various aspects of Russian literature, culture and education. She is a published translator and editor, most recently of Russian Love Stories (Peter Lang, 2009).


This new collection of four plays by Nina Sadur is a welcome addition to the fields of both Russian literature and theatre. It includes some of Sadur’s best-known works as well as some lesser-known plays. . . . [A] very successful collection . . .
— Marc Robinson, St. Olaf College, Canadian Slavonic Papers
With Nadya Peterson as editor and main translator, this selection brings Sadur to large new audiences and will probably stand as the best representation of her achievement as a playwright. . . . The language of the volume is well chiseled, the translation flows smoothly. With this admirable achievement, Peterson has performed a commendable service to all Sadur fans and readers of Russian drama, something for which we should be grateful.
— Tatyana Novikov, University of Nebraska-Omaha, The Russian Review (Vol. 74, No. 3)
Sadur’s plays are discomforting; they uproot certainties, allowing deep and ugly forces to disrupt the strained surface of Soviet life. . . . The translations in this new collection of Sadur’s plays were collaborative efforts; together with the introduction, they will allow practitioners to understand the work of an important late Soviet playwright. . . .
— Sasha Dugdale , The Times Literary Supplement (May 15, 2015 NO. 5850)
Peering into the abyss, Nina Sadur leads us into the darkness of the human spirit as the Russian literature of Gogol and Dostoevsky has so often done, connecting with her reader both universally and viscerally. Now for the first time, Nadya L. Peterson provides the English speaking reader and audience access to a series of this remarkable author’s plays.
— Thomas R. Beyer, C.V. Starr Professor of Russian and East European Studies, Middlebury College
Finally English-language readers can become familiar with the disquieting, mysterious, yet disturbingly physical world of Nina Sadur, surely one of the major Russian writers to have emerged since the 1970’s. Her prose works and plays are almost literally ‘spellbinding.’
— Elizabeth K. Beaujour, Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center

Table of Contents


Introduction. Nina Sadur’s Fantastic Theater
Mark Lipovetsky, translated by Nadya L. Peterson

translated by Nadya L. Peterson
Pechorin: In Memoriam
translated by Margarit T. Ordukhanyan
Red Paradise
translated by Nadya L. Peterson and Kathryn Szczepanska
The Witching Hour
translated by Anna Gordeychuk and Nadya L. Peterson

Afterword, by Karin Sarsenov
List of References