Berberova's elegant and uncommon biography of the Russian poet Blok defies easy categorization and is a literary event in its own right. Aleksandr Blok (18801921) was a leader of the Russian Symbolists at the turn of the century and ranks among the greatest modern Russian poets. Of particular interest are Blok's artistic and personal reactions to the revolutionary changes in Russian politics and society during his lifetime: his shift from poetic mysticism to a perception of life deeply colored by historical forces, and his astute predictions about Russia's bloody future. A major English-language biography, Avril Pyman's Life of Aleksandr Blok, appeared in 1979, and readers of his poetry who seek details of the life should still turn to that earlier work. Those more interested in the fin-de-siäcle and revolutionary settings of Blok's creative genius will be well served by this new work. Berberova's essay is as much a portrait of Russian society as it is a story of Blok himself, and in the author's deft hand the two are palpably, convincingly linked. Part of the appeal of this biography is the author's lyrical and highly personal, empathetic voice. Berberova, who died in 1993, was both a professor of Russian literature at Princeton and the author of fiction and an autobiography (The Tattered Cloak, 1991, etc.). She lived until the age of 20 in Blok's St. Petersburg and moved in similar literary circles. As she poignantly relates here, Berberova was present at Blok's deathbed, and she offers a heartfelt interpretation of the poet's death: ``We all felt it was the and of a life, the end of a city, the end of a world.'' Soon after his death, she fled Russia. Aleksandr Blok: A Life is Berberova's profoundly moving posthumous homage to a poet, a city, and an era she knew intimately.