BACK TO LIFE: Poems from Behind the Iron Curtain by Robert-Ed. Conquest

BACK TO LIFE: Poems from Behind the Iron Curtain

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is an interesting collection drawn from Russia and the satellite countries during the ""thaw"" of 1955-56. Most of the writers are Communists, but in this period it was not necessary for them simply to ring the change on the Ode to Stalin type of poetry. The first contributions to ordinary fields of poetry- lyricism, satire, romance as contrasted with pipe foundries and dams, occurred in Moscow. The most tragic steps toward freedom occurred in Hungary, where they were ruthlessly crushed. And among the furthest satellites, Poland showed and still shows the greatest degree of liberalism. All of this is reflected in greater or lesser degree in these poems, published by courageous publishing houses, and subject often to severest condemnation. This collection is not exhaustive, merely representative. The individual poems reflect decency, humanity, freedom from ideology, but as poetry none appear great. This may be unfair judgment for translation from the Russian is notoriously difficult. The great value of the book is as an historical document. Its content will be priceless when the time comes to write the definitive literary history of Russia since the Revolution. This ""free moment"", this breathing space merely proves that the poetic spirit is indestructible. A valuable book with an interesting preface, which helps us piece together our fragmentary concept of the USSR.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press