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The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam [Paperback]

By Osip Mandelstam, Clarence Brown (Translator), W. S. Merwin (Translator), W. John Kress (Contributor), Hiroshi Takeyama (Contributor), Eric Myott (Contributor) & Tim Ohr
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Item Specifications...

Pages   167
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 30, 2004
Publisher   NYRB Classics
ISBN  1590170911  
EAN  9781590170915  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Osip Mandelstam is a central figure not only in modern Russian but in world poetry, the author of some of the most haunting and memorable poems of the twentieth century. A contemporary of Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetayeva, and Boris Pasternak, a touchstone for later masters such as Paul Celan and Robert Lowell, Mandelstam was a crucial instigator of the "revolution of the word" that took place in St. Petersburg, only to be crushed by the Bolshevik Revolution. Mandelstam's last poems, written in the interval between his exile to the provinces by Stalin and his death in the Gulag, are an extraordinary testament to the endurance of art in the presence of terror.

This book represents a collaboration between the scholar Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin, one of contemporary America's finest poets and translators. It also includes Mandelstam's "Conversation on Dante," an uncategorizable work of genius containing the poet's deepest reflections on the nature of the poetic process.

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More About Osip Mandelstam, Clarence Brown, W. S. Merwin, W. John Kress, Hiroshi Takeyama, Eric Myott & Tim Ohr

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) was born and raised in St. Petersburg, where he attended the prestigious Tenishev School, before studying at the universities of St. Petersburg and Heidelberg and at the Sorbonne. Mandelstam first published his poems in Apollyon, an avant-garde magazine, in 1910, then banded together with Anna Akhmatova and Nicholas Gumilev to form the Acmeist group, which advocated an aesthetic of exact description and chiseled form, as suggested by the title of Mandelstam's first book, Stone (1913). During the Russian Revolution, Mandelstam left Leningrad for the Crimea and Georgia, and he settled in Moscow in 1922, where his second collection of poems, Tristia, appeared. Unpopular with the Soviet authorities, Mandelstam found it increasingly difficult to publish his poetry, though an edition of collected poems did come out in 1928. In 1934, after reading an epigram denouncing Stalin to friends, Mandelstam was arrested and sent into exile. He wrote furiously during these years, and his wife, Nadezhda, memorized his work in case his notebooks were destroyed or lost. (Nadezhda Mandelstam's extraordinary memoirs of life with her husband, Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned, published in the 1970s, later helped to bring Mandelstam a worldwide audience.)
Clarence Brown is the author of a prize-winning biography of Mandelstam and is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton.
W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Portugal, and Majorca. He has since lived in many parts of the world, most recently on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. He is the author of many books of poems, prose, and translations and has received both the Pulitzer and the Bollingen Prizes for poetry, among numerous other awards.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( M ) > Merwin, W.S.   [14  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General   [14786  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Russian   [63  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Russian   [319  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
W. S. Merwin gives us a shockingly original Mandelstam  Nov 5, 2008
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). Well, while I'm at it let me say THE COMPLETE POETRY OF OSIP EMILIEVICH MANDELSTAM in English by Burton Raffel and Alla Burago from State University of New York Press (353 pages) has literal translations---perhaps closest of anyone's to Mandelstam's Russian originals---and yet the least poetic versions. But I should tell you as well that when Mandelstam himself translated Petrarch's sonnets, the Russian reader couldn't find any Petrarch after the first lines, the poems had been so Mandelstamized in Russian. So Mandelstam would have nothing against Merwin's Merwinized English versions (or Lowell's imitations). Here are a few lines of Merwin for you to compare with the Raffel/Burago literal verses. This poem is called "The Last Supper" and is about Da Vinci's great fresco:

The heaven of the supper fell in love with the wall.
It filled it with cracks. It fills them with light.
It fell into the wall. It shines out there
in the form of 13 heads. (Merwin/Browm)

Supper-sky adoring the wall--
wounded, scar-bright sky--
falling into her, flaring,
turned into 13 heads. (Raffel/Burago)

This is just the first stanza of the poem. I am happy indeed to have the COMPLETE MANDELSTAM from Raffel/Burago but I find the literal short lines too crowded; like fruitcake, enough's enough---although as I say these sharp-cut lines may be closer to the original. And the WHY of why did Mandelstam write this poem may come through more strongly in these brilliant little facets rather than in the longer lyrical line of Merwin/Brown. Take your choice!--although it's grand to have both. And let me end on one last note: Nadezha Mandelstam, who admireed Solzynitsin's IVAN DENISOVICH thought the death camp described in this work (drawn from Solzynitsin's imprisonment in the middle forties) is a day at the beach beside the camp Mandelstam was sent to in the late thirties.
His poems living still   Mar 10, 2005

We do not know the way to the darkness of the word
or the excellent silence
concealed inside our poems
we only know the drumbeat of our own pain
and the flickering madness of a land's best lights lost

All we are and can be
is a poem
that will never come home again.

Stalin's death is Russia's life
The man Mandelstam murdered
His poems living still.


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