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The Gypsies

The Gypsies

And Other Narrative Poems

by Alexander Pushkin
Translated by Antony Wood
Wood engravings by Simon Brett

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Product Details


ISBN: 978-1-56792-469-5
Pages: 160
Size: 5.5" x 7.9"
Published: January 2013
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Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837), Russia's greatest writer, wrote much more than his novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. In this selection of five of his finest narrative poems, all of his essential qualities are on display—his ironic poise, his stylistic variety, his confounding of expectations, and his creation of poetry out of everyday language.

The Gypsies is modern Russian literature's first masterpiece. Telling the anti-Romantic tale of an effete city-dweller whose search for "unspoiled" values among a band of gypsies ends in tragedy, it is the major but unacknowledged source for Bizet's Carmen. In "The Bridegroom," Pushkin turns the Romantic ballad into a whodunnit filled with sexual dread and subconscious terror. In "Count Nulin," a deliciously comic tale of country life, he stands Shakespeare's "Rape of Lucrece" on its head—what would have happened if Lucrece had slapped Tarquin's face? "The Tale of the Dead Princess" (Pushkin's version of the Snow White story) transforms Russian folk tale into purest art, and its companion-piece, the eerie "Tale of the Golden Cockerel" (inspired by his bitter experience in with Tsar Nicholas I), savagely politicizes the folk-tale form.

Antony Wood is one of the very few translators who can bring Pushkin authentically alive in English. If, as The Tablet has said, he "comes close to the translator's ideal," so Simon Brett comes close to the illustrator's. This well-known engraver has captured the essence of each of these poems in a single dramatic image, from the firelight reverie of the title poem to the grisly action of "The Bridegroom." The Gypsies is a double masterpiece: a masterly translation of Pushkin for today and a triumph of the illustrator's art.

Lively, elegant, and swift—all that I imagine Pushkin to be. —Christopher Logue

The Gypsies is beautifully designed and illustrated with Simon Brett's exquisite wood engravings. —Bloomsbury Review

Anthony Wood deserves a vodka toast for his witty and nimble translations of these Pushkin verse tales... —Times Literary Supplement

An absolute joy! This volume contains five outstanding translations of the most interesting and rewarding of Pushkin's shorter verse narratives. It is also beautifully printed and illustrated. —Acumen Poetry Journal

Wood's excellent work marks an important moment in the history of Pushkin in English. —The Pushkin Review

Wood adds value to his sparkling versions of five story-poems by Pushkin with a good introduction to the poet and poems and an excellent afterword on Pushkin's challenges for the translator. —Booklist

Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian poet, playwright, and novelist of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow. Notoriously touchy about his honor, he fought as many as twenty-nine duels and was fatally wounded in such an encounter with Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès. While under the strict surveillance of the Tsar's political police and unable to publish, Pushkin wrote his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov. His novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, was serialized between 1825 and 1832.

Antony Wood
Antony Wood is publisher of Angel Books, London. His previous translations of Pushkin's poetry include Mozart and Salieri: The Little Tragedies, Boris Godunov, and a number of lyric poems. He was awarded a Pushkin Medal by the Russian government in 1999, the bicentenary year of Pushkin's birth.

Simon Brett
Simon Brett has been making wood engravings since 1961. His prints, bookplates, and book illustrations are among the finest of the present time, and he writes frequently on the history, practice, and current condition of the engraver's art.