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This review is taken from PN Review 60, Volume 14 Number 4, March - April 1988.

QUIET VOICES Kjell Espmark, Béla Bartók against the Third Reich, translated by Robin Fulton (Oasis/Shearman) £4.95 pb.
Adam Zagajewski, Tremor, translated by Renata Gorczynski (Collins Harvill) £6.95 pb.

Neither Espmark (b. 1930) nor Zagajewski (b. 1945) have appeared in book form in English before, though both are well-known and respected figures abroad. Espmark teaches at Stockholm University and is a member of the Swedish Academy; Zagajewski, a Pole who has lived in Paris since 1981 (his birthplace of Lvov is now in the Soviet Ukraine), spoke at the International PEN congress in January last year. Béla Bartók against the Third Reich comes to us courtesy of the Scottish poet and translator Robin Fulton, and under the modest auspices of the small Oasis imprint. Tremor arrives in the handsome Harvill Poets format, buttressed with powerful recommendations from Joseph Brodsky and Czeslaw Milosz. The quotation from Brodsky offers no explicit lineage for Zagajewski, though it is evident that the émigré Russian sees the émigré Pole as one of those 'quiet voices' (Cyprian Norwid, Cavafy and Montale among them) whom he has always preferred. 'Seldom', writes Brodsky, 'can one overhear so intense an exchange between Euterpe and Clio as in the pages of Tremor'. Ironically, precisely the same could be said of Espmark's poems, which are also written not so much to be heard as to be overhead. It seems apt that Espmark should offer, notably by way of one of Brodsky's cardinal points of reference (in the poem 'I'm still called Osip Mandelstam'), proof that it is perfectly possible to participate intensely in an ongoing debate in a country that has nailed its colours to the mast of neutrality. ...


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