- Series: The Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life and Literature Series
- Paperback: 382 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (July 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814712215
- ISBN-13: 978-0814712214
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,061,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sophia Parnok: The Life and Work of Russia's Sappho (The Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life and Literature Series)
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From Publishers Weekly
Critical biographies run the risk of advancing more criticism than biography, of illuminating an author's work while shedding only shadows on her daily experience. Part of a series titled The Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life and Literature, Burgin's study of ``the only openly lesbian voice in Russian poetry'' is no exception. While Burgin's affectionate intelligence succeeds in its goal of enlivening Parnok's soulful lyrics for Western readers, she lacks either resource or inclination to introduce Parnok as a flesh-and-blood being making her way through the actual world. Not until Parnok reaches her twenties do we learn that she has suffered since childhood with Grave's disease, and never do we learn the full clinical consequences to Parnok's health. About the poet's appearance there is equally little, and of her actions in pre-Revolutionary and Stalinist Russia, there are too many phrases like ``something apparently did come up.'' Parnok comes across as a melodramatic, needy person whose tormented yearnings and unconventional sexuality produced a provocative if insubstantial body of work. Though Burgin's thoughts about translation make for interesting reading, her assumption that Parnok's poems are autobiographical remains woefully unexamined. Still, her efforts to meld the poet's works and passions will awaken sympathy for this neglected lesbian artist while never quite justifying the series editor's claim that Parnok was ``brilliant.''
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Parnok (1885-1933) was the only avowed lesbian poet during the "silver age of Russian poets" (1893-1917). She published in her lifetime, overcoming obstacles thrown in her path by a sexist and homophobic society. Burgin's (Russian, Univ. of Massachusetts) study is shaped not so much by historical record (which contains many gaps) as by the poetry itself. The poet's life is chronicled, sometimes on a day-by-day basis, by interpretations of her emotional and physical state as depicted in her work. Although Parnok wrote during the revolution and subsequent civil strife, relatively little space is given to describing how events (including her arrest in 1921) might have affected her poetry. Instead, Burgin's rendering is almost entirely personal, with lengthy descriptions of her relationships. Nonetheless, this is a valuable study of a little-known but important literary talent. Recommended for Russian literature and women's studies collections.
Diane Gardner Premo, SILS, SUNY at Buffalo
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.