Ivan the Terrible is self-explanatory. Ivan the Fool is the Russian people--which to Yevtushenko means no fool at all, but...

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IVAN THE TERRIBLE and IVAN THE FOOL

Ivan the Terrible is self-explanatory. Ivan the Fool is the Russian people--which to Yevtushenko means no fool at all, but sly as all get-out: they can ""roar like thunder/ and make palaces quiver"" when put-upon and when given a chance to retaliate. Jumping from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great, to the 1905 textile strike in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, to the downfall of the Czars in 1917, Yevtushenko carries his verse along with a certain popping verve that holds the interest yet is pretty dreadful line by line: ""I must go to the strike,/ the strike,/ the strike,/ the mighty stirring of/ the workers' arms and backs,/ to egg them on with roars of/ 'Wheel away the damn informers!'"" Translator Weissbort, in his Introduction, presents a picture of Yevtushenko reviving a Russian epic tradition here, but it's a hard nut to swallow. Is Eugene Onegin the same as propaganda like this? ""Let neither vainglory nor love of comfort chain us./ Advancing to meet the coming centuries,/ give everything in Russia/ to the children/ and they will give to Russia everything."" Sorry, but no.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Marek--dist. by Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980