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Red Cavalry Paperback – April 17, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“My favorite writer of fiction is Isaac Babel, primarily for one book, Red Cavalry. I find [it] endlessly haunting for its blunt yet somehow elusive style…it invariably leaves me feeling off balance and on edge. And I can't stop rereading it.” (Richard Price - New York Times Book Review)

“Marvelously subtle, tragic, and often comic commentaries on the desecration of revolutionary activity.” (James Wood - The New Republic)

“From the very first story, Red Cavalry opens like a cannon shot. In glorious, expressionist description, a cavalry division has forded the Zbrucz River at night…Amid beauty, amid courage and even warmth that are often overwhelming, there are butchery and murder, acts that can never be forgiven, only forgotten, and Babel does not let you forget.” (James Salter - Los Angeles Times Book Review)

About the Author

Isaac Babel was a journalist, playwright, and short story writer, whose works include the Russian masterpieces Red Cavalry and The Odessa Tales. He was arrested and executed in a Soviet prison in 1940.

Nathalie Babel, his daughter, edited two other books of Babel's writing and is the author of Hugo and Dostoevsky.

Peter Constantine's most recent translations are Sophocles’ Theban Trilogy, The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, and The Bird is a Raven by Benjamin Lebert, which was awarded the Helen und Kurt Wolff Translation Prize. He was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov: Thirty-Eight New Stories. His translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel received the Koret Jewish Literature Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation. He has recently translated Gogol’s Taras Bulba, Tolstoy’s The Cossacks, and Voltaire’s Candide for Modern Library. He was one of the editors for A Century of Greek Poetry: 1900-2000, and is a senior editor at Conjunctions.

Michael Dirda, who won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism at the Washington Post Book World, is the author of An Open Book, Bound to Please, and Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393324230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393324235
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Emanuel S. Chris on November 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Babel's Red Cavalry is a remarkably candid look at a little known subject of the Bolshevik's effort to export their revolution to Europe via Poland. His writing is very much in the style of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in that he cuts through to the heart of the matter in a very subtle manner, and vividly describes the drive, actions, and sufferings of those involved in this conflict.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on September 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Russian-Jewish writer Isaak Babel's collection of stories, Red Cavalry, comes close to perfection in many ways. In terms of theme, tone, pacing, and momentum, Babel gets everything right.

The collection follows the exploits of a Cossack cavalry unit in its fight against the Poles. Although war features heavily in the stories, it is merely the focal point of the action. Babel takes characters from diverse backgrounds, experiences, political and religious stances and shades, and gives them a voice in his tales.

It is no wonder that Babel did not survive Stalin. A mind and creatively so vast and encompassing could never fit into an ideology no matter how broadly defined.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mom with Ph.D. on March 9, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great translation! Better than a lot of the translations of Babel out there.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris Reich on November 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It takes a little time to adjust to Russian writing. Babel writes in short, choppy and sharp sentences that score point after point with the reader. He paints pictures that are clear and vivid and he opens the reader to feel the scene. This is very interesting stuff because he doesn't tell you how to feel, you just will feel.

I believe this work is important because it gives a good look at the early Soviet psyche. This is like seeing a teenage thug before he becomes the gangster.

Read and savor. If you consider yourself a reader but haven't read Babel---start here.

Chris Reich, TeachU.com
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kat S on August 30, 2013
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Beautiful, sharp, powerful stories. A shame Babel isn't more widely read - and taught - in the U.S. (Red Calvary would be an excellent addition to world literature curricula at the advanced high school level - the stories are thrilling, and there is so much here to learn about the history of Russia's civil war.)
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