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This review is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

ISSUES AND RE-ISSUES Boris Pasternak, Poems, chosen and translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater (Unwin paperbacks) £2.95
Heinz Winfried Sabais, The People and the Stones, translated by Ruth and Matthew Mead (Anvil Press) £3.95 pb.

The publication of the Penguin Pasternak ought in due course to ensure that all its competitors will take account of where and how Jon Stallworthy and Peter France can be improved upon; if better is to be, the best thus far will have played a part in it. But the first fruit of that splendid collaboration has clearly been timed to bask in their reflected glory, and to match other recent Pasternakiana. The ostensible rationale for re-issuing the versions of the poet's younger sister - over and above the intrinsic interest of the family connection - is that this volume 'includes a number [in fact ten] of new poems' for which English equivalents have either ceased to be available or never been attempted. The ten new poems here are fairly evenly spread across Pasternak's poetic career and are welcome when they extend our sense of early Pasternak, especially the Themes and Variations of 1918-19 (published 1923), which are inevitably overshadowed by My Sister Life. There was also a case, at least in pre-Penguin days, for more poems of the middle years, or the best of a rather middling bunch. But there have perhaps been enough complete Zhivago poems to be going on with, and Pasternak's late flowering coincided with his world fame and with a great explosion of translated literature; translations of the post-Zhivago work abound.

Only five of the new versions, therefore, make a significant addition to the Fifty Poems of 1963 on which this re-issue ...


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