Only Pushkin's poetry has perhaps had a wider, more musical appeal for the Russian public than that of Alexander Blok...

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BLOK: An Anthology of Essays and Memoirs

Only Pushkin's poetry has perhaps had a wider, more musical appeal for the Russian public than that of Alexander Blok (1880-1921). Heavily influenced as a Petersburg teenager by the mystical Vladimir Soloviev, Blok began to write Symbolist verse--poem after poem dedicated to a Beatrice-like ""Beautiful Lady,"" effortlessly tapping the sounds of the Russian language and captivating in their allegorical purities. The work soon grew darker; the voice became that of a ""fallen angel,"" still love-obsessed but with a broken urgency associated with gypsy romans. Critic Viktor Zhirmunsky speaks of ""a boldness and an irrationality of structure never before enunciated in Russian poetry."" His essay is matched in acuity here only by those of Boris Eikhenbaum and Osip Mandelstam. Writes Mandelstam: ""The thematic development of [Blok's] poetry went from cult to cult. . . . The spiritual makeup of the poet gravitated toward catastrophe. For both cult and culture presume a protected source of energy."" And the catastrophe came for Blok when his ultimate cult--the Revolution--so disillusioned him after only a few years that he fell blackly silent and died shortly thereafter. Save for the overwrought memoir by Blok's wife that opens the volume: an interesting, period-piece introduction to Russia's last ""national"" or populist poet. (For a closer look, see Kornel Chukovsky's Alexander Blok as Man and Poet, also newly published by Ardis.)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 1982

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Ardis

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1982