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4.4 out of 5 stars
2

VINE VOICEon 18 February 2011
This is an excellent Kindle edition, with no typos I noticed, and no layout problems. It contains 54 pieces, though a lot of the prose poems are extremely short - some only one paragraph in length. The writing is Turgenev at his best; poetic, fantastical, moody, thoughtful. It only loses one star because some of the pieces are a little too bitter, some a little repetitive or unoriginal, and some rather morbid. The contents are as follows;
1; Clara Militch. A young recluse becomes obsessed over a girl he meets on a rare outing.
2; Phantoms. A man is led on strange and magical excursions around the world by a feminine apparition.
3; The Song of Triumphant Love. Two young Italian noblemen of the Renaissance era love the same girl, but though their rivalry concludes in friendship, the loser later seems to be resorting to witchcraft to change the outcome.
4; The Dream. A young man has a strange dream which is followed by parallel events in real life.
The rest are Poems in Prose.
5; The Country. A sketch of a rural village, mild political comment.
6; A Conversation. Two of the mountains of the Alps watch the world roll on.
7; The Old Woman; a creepy sketch of a blind old woman who represents death or fate.
8; The Dog. A pet dog viewed as a comrade in fear of mortality.
9; My Adversary. The writer's old debating opponent appears as a ghost.
10; The Beggar. A mendicant is grateful for a moment of human contact.
11; Thou Shalt Hear the Fool's Judgement. Takes a quote from Pushkin and turns out a rather bitter piece about the lack of recognition faced by the kindly and benevolent.
12; A Contented Man. A portrait of a malicious gossip.
13; A Rule of Life. An unpleasant person offers advice on how best to hurt others.
14; The End of the World. Short but effective description of a dream of catastrophe.
15; Masha. A sledge driver mourns for his dead wife.
16; The Fool. A man lacking wit and talent achieves recognition by criticising others for being old fashioned.
17; An Eastern Legend. Neat, barbed and amusing piece about a young man offered a difficult choice.
18; Two Stanzas. A poet learns about the vulgar tastes of the mob.
19; The Sparrow. A mother bird defends her chick.
20; The Skulls. A very short observation on mortality.
21; The Workman and the Man with White Hands. A revolutionary finds his efforts go unappreciated by 'the workers'.
22; The Rose. A subtle sketch of a couple with secrets.
23; To the Memory of U P Vrevsky. A tribute to a selfless nurse who died of typhus.
24; The Last Meeting; the writer is repelled by the sight of an old friend near death.
25; A Visit. A whimsical and rather overblown sketch of the Goddess of Poesy.
26; A Bas-relief. Bit of a heavy allegory about life, necessity and liberty.
27; Alms. An old man shrinks from having to beg.
28; The Insect. Another metaphorical appearance by death.
29; Cabbage Soup. A rich woman visits a bereaved peasant woman.
30; The Realm of Azure. A poetic flight of fantasy.
31; Two Rich Men. A comparison between the generosity of rich and poor.
32; The Old Man. A heavy little item about old age having no future.
33; The Reporter. Two men in a coffee shop witness a beating - should they go and help?
34; The Two Brothers. An allegorical depiction of Love and Hunger.
35; The Egoist. Portrait of a virtuous man whose virtue makes him hateful.
36; The Banquet of the Supreme Being. Another that is a little too bitter, concerning a feast given for the virtues.
37; The Sphinx. A comparison between the Egyptian statue and the enigmatic Russian soul.
38; The Nymphs. A charming and wistful piece about vanished pagan deities.
39; Friend and Enemy. Another allegory, about the nature of friendship.
40; Christ. A fairly unoriginal observation.
41; The Stone. The author compares himself to a rock washed by the sea.
42; The Doves. A dove risks its life in with a storm oncoming - for what?
43; Tomorrow! Tomorrow! A pessimistic paragraph.
44; Nature. What matters to Nature?
45; Hang Him! A soldier is falsely accused of theft.
46; What Shall i Think? The writer ponders about what thoughts come at death.
47; How Fair, How Fresh Were the Roses. A vision of the joys of days gone by.
48; On the Sea. Two creatures find companionship in the face of the forces of nature.
49; NN. Portrait of a friend.
50; Stay. On the nature of immortality.
51; The Monk. The writer compares himself to a monk.
52; We Will Still Fight On. Sparrows display inspirational bravery.
53; Prayer. On the meaning and necessity of prayer.
54; The Russian Tongue. A tiny political footnote.
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on 17 June 2001
I read this first at school aged 15 and it bowled me over. The prose communicates directly with you. There is beauty, mystery, suspence, the unbelievable made real. I have looked for this book over the years and never refound it, until today on Amazon - I cannot wait to re-read it.
I'd love to know what other people think of it.
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