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This review is taken from PN Review 34, Volume 10 Number 2, November - December 1983.


Two recent books arc worthy of a wider readership than the relatively narrow distribution of their publishers in this country may win them. The first is Kornci Chukovsky's Alexander Blok as man and poet, translated and edited by Diana Burgin and Katherine O'Connor and published by Ardis of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The second is loanna Tsatsos's My Brother George Seferis, translated by Jean Demos with a preface by Eugene Current-Garcia and published by the North Central Publishing Company under the auspices of Nostos, the Socicty for the Study of Greek Life and Thought, Minneapolis. Both are written in the passionate manner that Anglo-Saxon literary discussion seems willing to dispense with and are none the less welcome for that.

Chukovsky's book first appeared in Petrograd in 1924 and has long been regarded by Slavists as a classic of Blok criticism and memorabilia. His biographical details have naturally been superseded by Avril Pyman's two-volume Life (Oxford, 1978, 1980), but Chukovsky was on intimate terms with Blok and his impressions have a vividness that even so fully researched a life as Pyman's cannot emulate. 'He was the last of the poet- gentlemen', writes Chukovsky nostalgically, 'the last of the Russian poets who could adorn his house with portraits of his fathers and forefathers'. Blok's aristocratic stance was epitomised for Chukovsky in his attitude to the Revolution: 'he remained a maximalist to the end, but his maximalism was not of this world'. Without ignoring the levity with which Blok leavened his ...

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