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Red Cavalry Paperback – Illustrated, April 17, 2003
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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- 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
“If you want to read spectacularly graceful distillations of spectacularly intense, complex, ephemeral experience, you could hardly do better than stories in Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry.”
- Deborah Eisenberg, Lithub.com
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 is the director of the Program in Literary Translation at the University of Connecticut, the publisher of World Poetry Books, and editor-in-chief of the magazine New Poetry in Translation. A prolific translator from several modern and classical languages, Constantine was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for his translation of The Bird Is a Raven by Benjamin Lebert, and the Koret Jewish Book Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation for The Complete Works of Isaac Babel.
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.
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393324230
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393324235
- Product Dimensions : 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated Edition (April 17, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #520,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Not all of the stories (or subject matter) are accessible, nor do they always make sense. The stories can also be difficult to follow at times due to the stream-of-conscious perspective of the narrator. While the occasional lack of accessibility and/or muddled relation of events sometimes make for a frustrating experience, those infrequent moments in no way diminish the overall impact of the Babel's writing.
Particularly intriguing: the inclusion of draft-versions of certain stories, as well as entries from Babel's diary. Being able to engage the anatomy of a story in this fashion is both insightful and rewarding. The diary providing impressions and inspiration, the draft stories demonstrating what Babel had in mind, and finally the finished product, published in first the papers at the time and eventually in the collection in print today. Fascinating.
Two thumbs up. Recommended for: those who enjoy Russian literature; history buffs with a focus on armed conflict after the first World War; anyone drawn to war stories; prose aficionados, especially those with a predilection for the poetic.
“The morning seeped out of us like chloroform seeping over a hospital table.”
“Pugachov raised his eyes, burning with sleeplessness, to the sky and shouted out his speech about the dead fighters of the First Cavalry, that proud phalanx which pounds the anvil of future centuries with the hammer of history.”
“The fire of the sunset swept over him, as crimson and implausible as impending doom.”
“The two phases of war. Our victories, the fruitlessness of our efforts, but the failure is not obvious.”
“I can see the wounds of your God, oozing with the seed, the fragrant poison that intoxicates young maidens.”
“Fields of purple poppies are blossoming around us, a noon breeze is frolicking in the yellowing rye, virginal buckwheat is standing on the horizon like the wall of a faraway monastery. Silent Vohynia is turning away, Volhynia is leaving, heading into the pearly white fog of the birch groves, creeping through the flowery hillocks, and with weakened arms entangling itself in the underbrush of hops. The orange sun is rolling across the sky like a severed head, gentle light glimmers in the ravines among the clouds, the banners of the sunset are fluttering above our heads. The stench of yesterday's blood and slaughtered horses drips into the evening chill. The blackened Zbrucz roars and twists the foaming knots of its rapids. The bridges are destroyed, and we wade across the river.”
"You've had your feast, now pay the priest!"
the acts never vary as the fighters move from village to village. what the polish army doesn’t destroy the red and white armies plunder and destroy. horses die in agony, jews watch their synagogues desecrated, and the observant narrator prophesizes that as badly as the jews are treated matters will get worse for them in the future.
it’s hard to call these brief episodes stories, nor do they form a traditional novel. the only literary form i find comparable is an episodic novel written decades later, covering the same territory and people during the end of the second world war, Painted Bird by the polish-american novelist, jerzy kosinski. within the russian literary tradition, his style belongs to the outrageousness of dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, and the works by nikolai gogol.
the spontaneity with which the notebooks were written, the urgency of the writer to get down on paper as much as possible of the events and scenes observed, lend a different quality of vibrancy to his writing, one i prefer. i regret babel’s execution under the rule of stalin and the destruction of the author’s other papers which put short his writing career.
The second half is made up of diary entries and sketches for the coming book. A really excellent writer, Babel was killed in Stalin’s Great Purge, in 1940.
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
Top reviews from other countries
The front cover is deceptive.