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SELECTED POEMS OF OSIP MANDELSTAM (Hudson River Editions) Board book – August 30, 1989

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Board book, August 30, 1989
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews


"One of the century’s greatest lyric poets…Osip Mandelstam has tempted a formidable array of English poets. Through them we can perceive a glittering poetry, at once allusive, hardeyed, amd uncompromising. We see Leningrad black and shining, sitting like a hunched wildcat or transformed into 'transparent Petropolis/ where Proserpina rules over us;' Moscow, threatening Asiatic barbarity; the Crimea’s sensual richness. Much of this recorded over the years of Stalin’s murderous cat-and-mouse game."
— Elaine Feinstein, The Sunday Times

"In the thirty years that have passed since the Brown/Merwin versions appeared none of the many attempts to indicate Mandelstam’s vitality, to draw out his multitude of textile warps, have come anywhere near what they achieved. Seemingly understated, these translations have the tension and memorability of art. With intensity, precision, and immediacy, Brown and Merwin give us a great poet, whose work, like that of Yeats, takes place, dramatically, on the stage of history. Mandelstam is the crucial poet of 'our wolfhound age', our 'tyrant century'.”
— Mark Rudman

"[Brown’s] introduction to this book of Mandelstam’s poems is balanced, informative and personal."
Columbus Dispatch --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

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Product Details

  • Series: Hudson River Editions
  • Board book: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 30, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0025794019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0025794016
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,322,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Newlove on November 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Merwin's Mandelstam more than that of five other translators with whom I've compared Mandelstam translations. It often takes three readings of a Mandelstam poem to get why it was written---not what it is about, please---but WHY it was written. That is what you look for. After that the sense of the poem will appear. Well, Robert Lowell's imitations of Mandelstam are impressive, especially of the Stalin poem. However, in THE COMPLETE POEMS OF ROBERT LOWELL, there are only a dozen or so Mandelstam poems while the Brown/Merwin book has 97 pages of poems, along with a long forward. If you have any sense you will leap from this book to Nadezhda Mandelstam's HOPE AGAINST HOPE and HOPE ABANDONED---the story of her husband Osip's murder by Stalin. These two books have an inner light beyond praise and are two of the last century's greatest prose works---and they are marvelously translated by Max Hayward (who elsewhere has been battered for his early first English translation of ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH; nonetheless his Nadezhda Mandelstam works could not be bettered). A warning: once you get into twentieth-century Russian poetry and especially Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova you will find yourself drunk with agonies. These poets lived through societal horrors under Stalin that you can't grasp without reading Nadezhda Mandelstam. We have nothing in English like twentieth century Russian poetry. By the way, you will want the New York Review of Books Classics paperback edition of OSIP MANDELSTAM: SELECTED POEMS (by Merwin/Brown expanded).Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Wilbur on June 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These translations of Mandelstam's poems are not so much Mandelstam as they are W.S. Merwin channelling Mandelstam. I prefer Clarence Brown's translations in his critical study of 1972, Mandelstam. The problem with Brown's book is that it doesn't include any of Mandelstam's poems written in the 1930s. This book, on which Brown and Merwin collaborated, does, and for that reason it is valuable. It is valuable for another very good reason. It includes Mandelstam's very interesting long critical essay on "The Divine Comedy," "Conversation About Dante," translated by Clarence Brown and Robert Hughs. This essay struck me as being important, not because of what it says about Dante whom I have not read, but because it seems to me to offer insight into understanding Mandelstam's own poetry or at least his method. Here are a few suggestive quotations:

Poetic speech is a crossbred process, and it consists of two sonorities.
The first of these is the change that we hear and sense in the very
instruments of poetic speech, which arise in the process of its impulse.
The second sonority is the speech proper . . . . (103)

Understood thus, poetry is not a part of nature . . . . Still less is it
a reflection of nature, . . . but it is something that . . . settles down
in a new extraspatial field of action, not so much narrating nature as
acting it out by means of its instruments, which are commonly called
images. (103)

In poetry only the executory understanding has any importance, and not
the passive, the reproducing, the paraphrasing understanding.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Reading poetry in translation is somewhat risky. This widely praised selection covers much of Mandelshtam's career and represents much of his most important poetry. These are fluent English versions of the originals with many striking turns of phrase. Mandelshtam's work, however, is not easy to read. Sometimes cryptic and densely allusive, often with classical allusions, quite a few poems are hard to follow. Many of the later poems from the 30s are more direct.
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