IFE'S BEGINNING by Samuel Marshak


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As though gazing into the calm well of memory, and receiving back a lucid, serene reflection of past days, Samuel Marshak recollects in tranquillity his boyhood in pre-Revolutionary Russia. He writes here of the time from the 1880's to 1905, when at eighteen he embarks upon the adventures of youth. Known as the translator of Shakespeare and Burns (""a translation is not a photograph""), the author of children's books and his own poetry, Marshak made his adult home in England. Here he returns to the provincial towns where his father made a precarious, pecunious living as a foreman in the soap factories while he yearned to do research as a master chemist. The flavor of life, first in the heart of the family with the surrounding outer world of the yard with playmates and a close brother, then at the gymnasium with its rigid conventions and teachings, finally in St. Petersburg where the future opened out is conveyed with a simplicity of style and sentiment that cannot fail to engage. In St. Petersburg, Marshak met the librarian Stassov, who introduced him to Repin, Chaliapin, and Gorky, and his story closes as he goes off to Yalta to live in the Gorky household for a time. Interest here will doubtless be more limited than in England, but the quality of this tender reminiscence will touch the literary-mined.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1964
Publisher: Dutton