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The Russian Jerusalem

A novel

Elaine Feinstein

The Russian Jerusalem
RRP: GBP£ 9.95
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Price: GBP£ 8.96
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857549 10 2
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Jewish, Russian, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Fiction
Published: May 2008
216 x 135 x 15 mm
164 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
  • Description
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Beginning in present-day St Petersburg, The Russian Jerusalem explores the landscape of twentieth century Russian literature. In this evocative autobiographical novel, distinguished poet, translator, novelist and biographer Elaine Feinstein moves among the dead poets of Stalin's Russia with the poet Marina Tsvetaeva as her Virgil, mingling with the ghosts of writers such as Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam and Joseph Brodsky. These imaginary encounters are interspersed with new poems by Feinstein. The author, herself of Russian descent, reconstructs the lives and fates of Russian, often Jewish, writers during the long age of Soviet terror, re-establishing them at the heart of the European tradition.
    CONTENTS

    1‘They were almost unaware of the poetry they moved in.’
    2 St Petersburg 2005
    3 The Underworld Opens
    4 The Stray Dog
    5 The River Station, Moscow 1941
    6 Rivers
    7 Moscow1934
    8 Ilya Ehrenburg in Gehinnom
    9 Moscow, December 1937
    10 Pasternak on the cinder slopes
    11 Peredelkino 1937
    12 Nashchokin Lane, Moscow
    13 Voronezh
    14 The innocence of Isaac Babel
    15 Peredelkino, May 1939
    16 Cherry brandy, May 1938
    17 Barracks No. 11, Vladivostok 1938
    18 Strangers
    19 Stetl
    20 Golden Kiev
    21 A Change in the Climate, 1953
    22 The fortunate spirit
    23 Prizes
    24 Joseph
    25 Arkangelskoye 1964
    26 Farewell
    27 St Petersburg 2005
    28 Pasternak’s Grave
    29 Odessa 2005
    30 Brodsky
    31 Heaven

    Notes
    Timeline
    Elaine Feinstein is a poet, novelist, and biographer. She has received many prizes, including a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, Society of Authors', Wingate and Arts Council Awards, the Daisy Miller Prize for her experimental novel The Circle, (long-listed for the ‘lost’ Man Booker prize in 2010) and an Honorary D.Litt ... read more
    Awards won by Elaine Feinstein Commended, 2017 The Poetry Book Society Special Commendation (The Clinic, Memory)
    'All poets are Jews, said Marina Tsvetaeva. Elaine Feinstein, Britain's most distinguished Jewish poet, was her first translator into English and has a wonderful wiry lyricism of her own, influenced both by Russian poetry and by Charles Olson and the Black Mountain poets. She has written here a unique blend of poetry, history and personal memoir, a descent into the heartbreaking and ground breaking vistas of Russian Jewry, and Russian literary figures of the twentieth century. The poets of genius whom she did not know alive, she knows equally intimately in the best way in which one poet knows another - by learning, reading, studying, translating. The book opens with her memories of renting a flat in a rundown quarter of St Petersberg in 2005, and also with Marina Tsetaeva accepting, as Virgil accepted for Dante, the role of guide to the underworld of colourful and talented figures Feinstein has known in her rich literary life, both in Russia, London and Cambridge.'
    Ruth Padel
    'In this fascinating, lyrical meditation on literature, politics, suffering and friendship, Elaine Feinstein - a biographer of poets and a poet of the first rank herself - takes us on a richly imagined journey through a lost literary archipelago, and reconstructs the lives and fates of Russian, often Jewish, writers during the long age of Soviet terror. Combining family history, travels through modern Russia and very personal encounters with famous ghosts, Feinstein evokes, throughpoetry and prose, both the inferno of cruelty and persecutions, and a golden Jerusalem of creativity, talent and intense literary bonds. This is a moving, original work, for which Feinstein has created a selection of poems worthy of the predecessors she admires.'
    Eva Hoffman
    Praise for Elaine Feinstein 'conversational in tone, bravely extravagant in spirit' Alison Brackenbury in The Poetry Review 'All poets are Jews, said Marina Tsvetaeva. Elaine Feinstein, Britain's most distinguished Jewish poet, was her first translator into English and has a wonderful wiry lyricism of her own, influenced both by Russian poetry and by Charles Olson and the Black Mountain poets. She has written here a unique blend of poetry, history and personal memoir, a descent into the heartbreaking and ground breaking vistas of Russian Jewry, and Russian literary figures of the twentieth century. The poets of genius whom she did not know alive, she knows equally intimately in the best way in which one poet knows another - by learning, reading, studying, translating. The book opens with her memories of renting a flat in a rundown quarter of St Petersberg in 2005, and also with Marina Tsetaeva accepting, as Virgil accepted for Dante, the role of guide to the underworld of colourful and talented figures Feinstein has known in her rich literary life, both in Russia, London and Cambridge.'
    Ruth Padel
    'She is an extremely fine poet. She has a sinewy, tenacious way of penetrating and exploring the core of her subject that seems to me unique. Her simple, clean language follows the track of the nerves. There is nothing hit or miss, nothing for effect, nothing false. Reading her poems one feels cleansed and sharpened.'
    Ted Hughes
      'Here we have a life, a person in the world opened up with intelligence and tact.'
    Martina Evans, The Irish Times
    'In this fascinating, lyrical meditation on literature, politics, suffering and friendship, Elaine Feinstein - a biographer of poets and a poet of the first rank herself - takes us on a richly imagined journey through a lost literary archipelago, and reconstructs the lives and fates of Russian, often Jewish, writers during the long age of Soviet terror. Combining family history, travels through modern Russia and very personal encounters with famous ghosts, Feinstein evokes, throughpoetry and prose, both the inferno of cruelty and persecutions, and a golden Jerusalem of creativity, talent and intense literary bonds. This is a moving, original work, for which Feinstein has created a selection of poems worthy of the predecessors she admires.'
    Eva Hoffman
    'Like numerous English readers, I owe my discovery of Tsvetaeva to the multi-talented poet and writer, Elaine Feinstein... Feinstein's translations prove that a poem can be re-born in its adoptive language.'
    Carol Rumens
     'Talking to the Dead is arguably Elaine Feinstein's best collection. Beautifully crafted, deeply felt, totally earned, these poems of love and bereavement, and more, will expand her readership well beyond the readers and writers of contemporary poetry who have long loved and treasured her exemplary contribution to the art.'
    Carol Ann Duffy
     'Beautiful, generous, wonderfully intense poems ... Anyone who has ever felt comforted in grief by words, or who has lived through that tension between tenderness, longing and guilt, will recognize their precision and their truth.'
    Ruth Padel
     'These are more than elegies, they are alchemy; the emotional force of the book is so strong that the dead come walking out of the pages.'
    Jo Shapcott
    'The strangeness of visited cities, with their fearful histories, has been transmuted here by the responses of a truly gifted poet.'
    Dannie Abse
     'Cities presents itself as the work of old age, but readers expecting regret or renunciation will be surprised by the affirmative character of this book. While Elaine Feinstein revisits Europe in the aftermath of Nazism, she also praises the good fortune of having lived richly in the sphere of literature and travelled widely among remarkable people. The poems here are lit with striking clarity - things retain their outline and solidity to an unusual degree.'
    Sean O'Brien
    'Elaine Feinstein has made the juncture between poetry and memoir her own. As befits a poet who is also a master of fiction and biography, she writes with casual erudition and an acute storyteller's eye. Her forays into European culture and history are dazzling. Cities is a profoundly humane, intimate exploration of the places and stages by which a life acquires meaning.'
    Fiona Sampson
     'For more than 40 years, Feinstein has been writing intensely lyrical, finely crafted poems. Those in [Talking to the Dead] are honest and moving, and are among her very best.'
    No. 1 in
    'The Ten Best New poetry collections' - the Independent, 2007
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