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Glee

Gabriele Annan, 7 September 1995

1920 Diary 
by Isaac Babel, edited by Carol Avins, translated by H.T. Willetts.
Yale, 126 pp., £14.95, June 1995, 0 300 05966 3
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Collected Stories 
by Isaac Babel, translated by David McDuff.
Penguin, 364 pp., £6.99, June 1995, 0 14 018462 7
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... one needs to keep up with the diary entries as they hurtle past. The translation by H.T. Willetts reads like a translation. But the Diary is in note form, and the occasional jolt gives it an extra touch of authenticity, of having been dashed off on the hoof. ‘In Russia,’ Avins explains, ‘cavalry meant Cossacks.’ But like every other ...

On not liking Tsvetaeva

Clarence Brown, 8 September 1994

Marina Tsvetaeva: Poetics of Appropriation 
by Michael Makin.
Oxford, 355 pp., £40, January 1994, 0 19 815164 0
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Tsvetaeva 
by Viktoria Schweitzer, translated by Robert Chandler, H.T. Willetts and Peter Norman.
Harvill, 400 pp., £20, December 1993, 0 00 272053 1
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...                               One woman Makes the rest look down. Wallace Stevens I’ve never much liked Tsvetaeva. A churlish way to begin: I do so simply because I think that, in not liking her very much, I am at one not only with much of her posterity but with almost all her contemporaries. On the way to hazarding some unpopular views, it is not bad to begin with one that is, if unacknowledged, widespread ...

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