“The Gadfly”, Ethel Lilian Voynich – “one of the most exciting novels”, as Bertrand Russell stated

The Irish novel that seduced USSR. The Gadfly, an English-language book barely known in the West became a sensation behind the Iron Curtain, writes Benjamin Ramm. (Article in BBC – Culture) – http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170119-the-irish-novel-that-seduced-the-ussr

One of the most popular English-language novels of the 20th Century is almost unknown in the English-speaking world – a global phenomenon in translation, now neglected in its original form.

The Gadfly, by Irish writer Ethel Voynich, was a sensation on the other side of the Iron Curtain – it sold over 5 million copies in 107 editions in the 22 languages spoken in the Soviet Union.

The book inspired seven musical adaptations, including an opera by Prokofiev, five theatre adaptations, including an ‘official’ version by George Bernard Shaw, and five film adaptations, one of which featured a famous score by Shostakovich.

Voynich’s novel is a thrilling saga of revolutionary zeal, religious devotion, clerical betrayal and romantic love – the philosopher Bertrand Russell called it “one of the most exciting novels I have read”. It was published in New York in 1897, two years after its completion, as its English publisher feared … (continue reading in http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170119-the-irish-novel-that-seduced-the-ussr )

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