Records Nina Berberova's life in St Petersburg before and during the Russian Revolution, then her life in Paris, where she was central to the influential literary Russian emigre circle which included Akhmatova, Gorky, Nabokov, Pasternak and Svetaeva.
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Nina Berberova's "The Italics Are Mine" is a must-read for anyone intrigued by Russia, Russian literature, or Paris. In this substantial work, Berberova, a renowned writer who left her homeland along with many compatriots in the wake of the 1917 Revolution, chronicles the travails she encounters in poverty-stricken Russia, poverty-stricken Berlin, and poverty-stricken Paris, where she lived from 1925-1950. The work is teeming with examples of her original imagery as she describes in detail the Russian emigre community in Europe between the two world wars. Her important document is enlightening for those who are ignorant of the Russian colony in Paris. A portion of the book is devoted to discussion of the Russian literary community, the circle she knew well. These segments are controversial, as Berberova was accused of fabrication. Yet while the non-specialist in literature may tire of the constant name dropping, the interested reader will be rewarded with...
After over 50 years of studying Russian culture, if I were forced to retain only one reference in my home library, it would be this one. Berberova set herself the task of bearing witness to the Russian intelligentsia around the turn of the century in Russia and then in exile, with an emphasis on the years of European exile, in France especially. Berberova is one of the most dedicated preservationists I have encountered in any field: she conscientiously annotated the literature of that time so that those who came after would know who the actors were. Without her labor, dozens of artists who were not already of international rank would either be mysterious ciphers in obscure literature or vanished without trace. Thanks to her, we have articulate descriptions of how the poets of the Silver Age recited their poetry and even how Pushkin recited, the latter account being the only one I know of, at least in English translation. By the way, the reader owes a debt to Philippe Radley for...
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