Aleksandr Blok: A Life

Nina Berberova, Author, Robyn Marsack, Translator George Braziller $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8076-1408-2
This memoir by the St. Petersburg-born Berberova (1901-1993), a professor of Russian literature at Princeton University (The Italics Are Mine), will appeal most to those who are already familiar with her subject--intimately, at that. Only a couple of times does Berberova employ the first person. When Blok's life was coming to an end, she writes: ""There were a dozen of us gathered around his death-bed."" It is a shame Berberova didn't enliven her memoir with more such references. Instead, we are simply told that Blok is great, or his life became impossible. Although she provides some definitions and background information, she assumes we know much more than the nonspecialist would. As a result, Aleksandr Blok (1880- 1921), considered the greatest Russian poet of his age, second perhaps only to Pushkin, hardly comes alive on these pages, despite the author's adulation. And for all the background Berberova offers, she hardly mentions the four great contemporary Russian poets of this century who were strongly influenced by him: Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Pasternak and Tsvetaeva. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
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