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This review is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.

SALVATION Ivo Andrić, Conversation with Goya translated by Celia Hawkesworth and Andrew Harvey (Menard) £7.00
Marina Tsvetayeva, Black Earth, versions by Elaine Feinstein (Menard) £4.50

Menard Press continues to be one of the most enterprising of the smaller imprints, as the first of these two books confirms, and as the second (given its nature) tends rather to consolidate. Ivo Andrić (1892-1975), in spite of his having won the Nobel Prize for literature, remains one of the writers in that list of laureates who have scarcely profited at all from the celebrity the award ought notionally to guarantee. Though much of Andrić's fiction is, or has been available, he perhaps needs - if the Nobel Prize is to seem something other than an aberration - precisely what these 'prose reflections' supply: an arena in which to speak in propia persona or, as in the longest piece here ('Conversation with Goya'), by way of some ventriloquized other not wholly distinct from himself. These eighty pages of Andrić take perhaps a couple of hours to read, but leave an indelible impression of the man, the precision and acuity of his observation, and the energized drama of his stoicism. Andrić writes, especially as an aphorist (and doubtless by virtue of being one), in a plain crystalline style which, having a burden that it needs to convey, never calls attention to itself. Even when his aphoristic writing impinges, as such writing always seems and seeks to, on truths given currency by others, one never doubts Andrić's honesty to his own impulses. Racked by insomnias, he naturally makes his personal feelings the focus of his endeavour; but never in such ...


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