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The Amazon Book Review
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Andrey Kneller is a Russian-born poet/translator. Andrey was 10 years old when his family immigrated from Moscow, Russia to New York in 1993. He grew up reading and speaking Russian fluently. At fourteen, he started writing his own poetry and not long after that, he started translating his favorite Russian poets into English. Understanding that Russian poets have been represented rather poorly in the west, the goal of translation for him has always been to keep as much of the original as possible, preserving meaning without losing rhyme and music. At the present, he has published 9 books of translations, including the works of Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Vladimir Mayakovsky, among others, and Discernible Sound, a book of his own poetry. Andrey currently lives with his wife and daughter in Ashland, MA and works as a high school math teacher in Boston.
I was inspired to acquaint myself with Boris Pasternak's poetry when I read in Eugenia Ginzburg's memoir of her arrest and imprisonment in one of the Siberian GULAG camps, Journey into the Whirlwind, that she found comfort and relief in his poetry. In fact, because she had a prodigious memory Ginzburg was able to recite poetry for hours at a time allowing herself and her fellow prisoners to temporarily forget the misery of their captivity.
Of the several books of Pasternik's poetry Amazon offered, I chose "February" because it contained a selection of poems written throughout his career. Unfortunately, the publication date of each poem is not identified, only the date it was written. According to the biographical sketch at the end of the book, Pasternak maintained a strictly apolitical position towards the Soviet regime, but during Stalin's rule, at considerable risk to himself he defended the independence of the artist. In keeping with his apolitical attitude, the subjects of these poems mostly concern private life, i.e. humanity, the difficult relations between man and woman, and the passing of the seasons. There are also poems about New Testament people and events. There is one poem, dated 1956, which describes the monotony and narrow-mindedness of the Soviet Union's powers-that-be.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Russian, especially Soviet, literature and to poetry lovers generally.
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Perhaps it was the watery eyes of Omar Sharif, the beauty of Julie Christie, the fierceness of Alec Guiness, or the wounded look of Geraldine Chaplin. What it was, I was a young teenager when I was pulled into the movie version of “Doctor Zhivago,” directed by David Lean. It was one of the movies rarely made today—a big movie with dozens of characters, stories and sub-stories. It was an epic film based on an epic literary work that had only recently been published.
Published in Russian in Italy and forbidden in the author’s own country.
The movie pulled me to the novel by Boris Pasternak, and I read it when I was all of 14. It’s a love story, actually several love stories, set against the backdrop of World War I, the Russian Revolution and Civil War, and the long Soviet night that followed. Pasternak received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, largely on the strength of “Doctor Zhivago” and his poetry, but the Soviet regime forced him to refuse the honor.
Before he was a novelist, Pasternak (1890 -1960) was a poet. In fact, his prose was not allowed to be published in Soviet Russia, but Russians knew him as a poet, perhaps the leading poet of the Silver Age, the model for poets like Marina Tsvetaeva. His poetry continues to be available; recently poet Andrey Kneller translated a number of Pasternak’s poems and assembled them as the volume “February: Poems.”
A few were written in the 1910s and 1920s, but most of the poems in the collection date from the 1950s (Pasternak did not publish during the 1930s, and publication after World War II and leading up to Stalin’s death in 1953 was fraught with potential peril). They are poems of daily life and love, of the environment around the poet and the culture he lives in.Read more ›
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