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Introduction by the translator Translation of 'Phaedra' Long Poems 'New Year's Letter', 'Poem of the Air', 'Attempt at a Room' Synopses and Notes Further Reading Appendices: Translating 'Phaedra'; Treatment of Phaedra in an earlier poem by Tsvetaeva
Marina Tsvetaeva (1892 - 1941), one of the half-dozen greatest Russian 20th-century poets, wrote most of her work as an emigree in Prague and Paris before her voluntary return to Russia in 1939. Around this time her husband was arrested, to be executed two years later, and her sister and surviving daughter were sent to camps. Evacuated to a distant provincial town in 1941, she committed suicide. Her oeuvre includes 12 volumes of lyric poems, 14 long poems, autobiographical prose works and a number of plays. The translator, Angela Livingstone, is Professor Emeritus, University of Essex, where she taught literature (mainly Russian) for 30 years. She is the author of four books on Pasternak and two presenting her translations of Tsvetaeva, including the long poem The Ratcatcher (Angel Classics, 1999), which was called by the American poet-translator Nina Kossman 'the very pinnacle of the art of translation.'
'Marina Tsvetaeva's "Phaedra" is a thrilling discovery in this first English translation by Angela Livingstone. This 20th-century verse drama possesses something of the archetypal grandeur of Greek tragedy, while blazing with all the passion and sensuousness of Tsvetaeva's Russian daemon. Angela Livingstone's verse moves with spriteliness and sinew; her linguistic alertness, fresh and idiomatic diction and energetic rhythms are entirely appropriate to the original.' - Carol Rumens, letter to the publisher