This is a collection of prefaces Professor Yarmolinsky wrote over the last thirty years to acquaint American readers with the Russian classics. Apparently he was never commissioned to say anything about Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, so essays on these giants are absent; nor do we get anything on Oblomov or Zoschenko and the beleaguered avant garde, generations of the Teens and Twenties. In general, Yarmolinsky's critical method has a fusty air, though duly summarized, the psychology of the characters tends to be rendered impressionistically, and the lengthy biographical sketches are rarely far from the dramatic, gesture: ""Death stopped Gorky's hand in 1936, just when he had brought Samghin's story down to the March Revolution."" If his insights are as middlebrowish as his style (Pushkin ""has neither the ability nor the wish to soar into the intense inane with Shelley or to descend With Coleridge into caverns measureless to man""), Yarmolinsky is still a thoughtful and efficient commentator, and in the studies of Chekhov and Babel, easily the best in the collection, he is moving as well. Yarmolinsky notes approvingly that Chekhov spoke of the necessity of the writer to be ""humane to the tips of his fingers,"" and it is just that sort of old fashioned virtue, at a premium right now, that makes Aspects of the Russian Imagination of Value.