The Dramatic Symphony

Andrey Bely, Author Grove Press $16.95 (183p) ISBN 978-0-394-55550-8
Biely (18801934) is best known outside his native Russia for his multifaceted symbolist novel St. Petersburg, a book that Nabokov, among others, believed was one of the masterpieces of 20th century modernism. These two early efforts, originally published in 1902 and now issued in one volume, are interesting period pieces that may direct uninitiated readers' attention to his mature major work. The Dramatic Symphony, translated by Roger and Angela Keys, is a precociously brilliant, theory-freighted tale occupying a niche somewhere between prose and verse; it is obsessed with the notion that literature can attain the purity of music and awhirl with Biely's reading of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kant, Dostoevsky, Max Nordau, the Russian mystics and French symbolists. In The Forms of Art, translated by John Elsworth, Biely attempts a systematic formulation of ideas touched upon in The Dramatic Symphony. (May 19)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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