Twenty Poems (English and Russian Edition)

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9780915408306: Twenty Poems (English and Russian Edition)
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Book by Anna Andreevna Akhmatova

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Language Notes:

Text: English, Russian

Review:

Anna Akhmatova (18891966) is one of the quartet of Russian poets of the Soviet period (the others being Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, and Pasternak) whose poignant chronicle interweaving private and national grief has come to symbolize for many readers the bittersweet agony of life in twentieth-century Russia. Akhmatova's husband, the poet Gumilyov, was shot in 1921, and her son spent many years in a concentration camp. She herself was denounced in 1946 as "half-nun, half-whore." Although some of her most sensitive work, such as Requiem and Poem without a Hero, has not been published in the USSR, Akhmatova's reputation has been largely rehabilitated and at the recent Writers' Congress her work and place in Soviet literature received national recognition. There have been numerous Soviet editions of her work, several good collections in English, and many articles and books on her. The present collection brings together twenty poems, mostly from the 191020 period. These poems delicately express the feelings of love, longing, loneliness, and memory characteristic of her work as a whole. Jane Kenyon has sensibly chosen to attempt a fairly literal translation. The difficulty lies in trying to translate the apparently simple vocabulary and syntax into an English version that does not appear trite. Kenyon's renderings do much to capture this deceptive simplicity. The reader of Russian can compare the original text facing each translation. Unfortunately Kenyon's slim collection of only 20 poems is unlikely to find its deserved place in university libraries among larger published volumes. Pity. Smaller general libraries may want to start a collection of modern Russian poetry with this. In any event, lovers of poetry will probably be the main beneficiaries. -- From Independent Publisher

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