The Little Tragedies, written by Pushkin in the early 1830s, are highly compressed "chamber dramas", focusing on a protagonist at a crucial moment of moral choice - as Anderson puts it in her introduction, "each little tragedy begins in the fifth act." Far surpassing the previous translators, Anderson has sought to preserve the heightened intensity of Pushkin's diction while avoiding the archaic cadences of blank verse. Without sacrificing authenticity, Anderson has managed to translate these pieces into readable, twentieth-century English. Anderson has provided a substantial critical apparatus to the translations, including a lengthy introduction in which she both outlines the literary and historical context of the plays and explains her method as a translator. The volume also includes four critical essays (one on each tragedy), two of which Caryl Emerson has described as "the best ever written on these plays."
Pushkin's four dramatic scenes in verse, known as The Little Tragedies, are skillfully translated by Anderson, an independent scholar. Written in 1830, these pieces include "The Miserly Knight," "Mozart and Salieri," "The Stone Guest," and "A Feast During the Plague." The theme of inner conflict dominates them all. Compared with Vladimir Nabokov's 1944 translation of three of the tragedies, Anderson's are more fluid, with flexible meters that will please contemporary English readers. The use of short scenes makes these translations suitable for acting. The translated text consists of only 66 pages; in addition, Anderson provides a scholarly introduction, four critical essays on each of the tragedies with line-by-line interpretations, and brief commentaries and notes for each tragedy. The book provides refreshing reading and scholarly research in one. Recommended for all academic and large public libraries.--Ming-ming Shen Kuo, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie IN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\