THE PROSE OF OSIP MANDELSTAM by Clarence-- Ed. & Trans. Brown


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The prose of Mandelstam, a Russian poet who died in 1938, is of two distinct types: rambling memoirs (The Noise of Time and Theodosia) or obscure attempts at profundity (The Egyptian Stamp). The memoirs at their best are charmingly ironic. At their worst, they are a lighthanded bore. Mandelstam carries one through the places and people of his childhood and early adult life. The Egyptian Stamp is, to say the least, obscure, it seems a massive free association which occasionally remembers its theme. Indeed it seems to be a representation of Mandelstam's view of life: ""It is terrifying to think that our life is a tale without a plot or hero, made up out of desolation and glass, out of the feverish babble of constant digressions...."" The Egyptian is just such a constant digression but without the intelligibility of Mandelstam's memoirs. To this rambling collection, Clarence Brown provides a comprehensive introduction which is pointlessly pedantic. However the introduction along with the book will have value for the student of the history of Russian literature. But, to quote Mandelstam, ""Everything grows smaller. Everything melts. Even Goethe melts. Brief is the time allotted us."" And Mandelstam's time has run out.

Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press