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This review is taken from PN Review 106, Volume 22 Number 2, November - December 1995.

TRUE PACTS MARIA RAZUMOVSKY, Marina Tsvetaeva: a Critical Biography, translated by Aleksey Gibson (Bloodaxe) £30
LILY FEILER, Marina Tsvetaeva: the Double Beat oj Heaven and Hell (Duke University Press) £25.95
CLARE CAVANAGH, Osip Mandelstarn and the Modernist Creation oj Tradition (Princeton University Press) £32
KARIN BOYE, Complete Poerns, translated by David McDuff (Bloodaxe) £8.95
Flowers of Perhaps: selected poems of Ra'hel, translated by Robert Friend (Menard Press) £6.99

For some thirty years after her death Marina Tsvetaeva was little more than a footnote in the histories of Russian poetry, and only occasionally to be glimpsed here and there in narratives of emigration and exile along the Berlin-Prague-Paris axis. It was if as she had become, like the nymph Psyche (the mythic figure with whom she identified herself), more a spirit of the sky and clouds than an inhabitant of earth. The enormous force of her poems, as they emerged, changed all that; and in due course her life as lived was made as accessible as biographies could make it. The posthumous reconstruction of Tsvetaeva has in fact been pursued with such commitment and resourcefulness that we can now know her, ironically enough, better than any of her contemporaries could, and in some ways better than she knew herself. The impulse to make sense of her life seems, even so, one which will continue to prompt biographers; hard upon each other's heels come two new biographies to set beside the studies of Simon Karlinsky, Elaine Feinstein, Viktoria Schweitzer and Jane Taubman. The heartening thing is that each does much more than merely tell a by now familiar story.

The pedigree of Maria Razumovskv is undoubtedly one that would have appealed with spedal poignancy to Tsvetaeva herself. The biographical note identifies Ms Razumovsky as a Russian countess and a member of the family who supplied the Russian ambassador to the Court of Vienna during the Napoleonic Wars, ...


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