Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam
Selected and translated by Christian Wiman
Ecco, $15.99, 128 pp.
Reviewing poetry in translation is a tricky business. Should the reviewer focus on the translation’s loyalty to the original text, or on its success as a work of art in its own right? Are we concerned primarily with fidelity, or with aesthetic power? If, as the Israeli poet Chaim Nachman Bialik once said, “reading poetry in translation is like kissing through a veil,” then reviewing poetry in translation is something even stranger: determining whether a different...
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