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Phaedra review

My review of Phaedra by Marina Tsvetaeva, as promised from my previous blog Writers reading different genres…!!


This book contains a selection of poems by the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, which have been diligently translated by Angela Livingstone.

I’m not necessarily a fan of poetry but saying that I did enjoy reading this book. Normally when I try to read poetry, after I’ve finished I would realise that I haven’t understood a word. But Angela Livingstone clearly explains in a detailed introduction beforehand, which describes the author and her motives and puts the poems in context, explaining what is actually going on, so that, for a change I actually understood the poems.

Having read Boris Pasternak, and now Marina Tsvetaeva, it appears that the Russian poets have a unique style which encompasses an almost realistic fatalism about them which makes the poems more into deep, dark and foreboding stories, wanting to know the people behind them.

I’d simply like to say well done to Angela Livingstone for translating Tsvetaeva’s work and bringing her work to our attention.

However, for me it is the excellent and informative explanations of each poem, with a primary focus on Phaedra, which makes the poems not only understandable but also enjoyable, especially for a poetry novice like myself. After the explanations of the poems’ subjects, their focus, forms and Tsvetaeva’s background, I could more easily appreciate the beauty of the Tsvetaeva’s work.

The poems themselves are a trove of information and substance and the imagery is vivid and exquisite that it works equally well as a personal read (easily devoured within one sitting) or as a reader’s group read with tons of stuff to talk about both in style, form and prose as well as the poems themes and issues.

more on www.newbooksmag.co.uk

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