Earthly SignsMoscow Diaries, 1917-1922
by Marina Tsvetaeva, translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell
Is there prose more intimate, more piercing, more heroic, more astonishing than Tsvetaeva’s? Was the truth of reckless feelings ever so naked? So accelerated? Voicing gut and brow, she is incomparable. Clad in the veil of translation, expert translation, her recklessness commands, her nakedness flames.
When it comes to the Russian poetry of the last century, Osip Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova, and Boris Pasternak are reasonably familiar names, but not Marina Tsvetaeva, who is their equal.... Is she as good as Eliot or Pound, one may ask for the sake of comparison. She is as good as they are, and may have more tricks up her sleeve as a poet.... A marvelous selection from her diaries and essays in an exceptionally fine translation by Jamey Gambrell. They give us a view of the times not very different from that found in Isaac Babel’s stories. Tsvetaeva is an excellent reporter.... Tsvetaeva’s autobiographical writings and her essays are filled with memorable descriptions and beautifully turned out phases.... Gambrell sums up well the difficulties of Tsvetaeva’s work in her concise and extremely perceptive introduction.
—Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books
This style of bold, passionate and innovative thought is much in evidence in Earthly Signs, writings by the Russian Modernist poet Marina Tsvetaeva, in this extraordinary translation by Jamey Gambrell.
—Carol Muske Dukes, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Jamey Gambrell’s excellently translated edition with its well-researched and informative introduction graciously fulfils Tsvetaeva’s desire to see these pieces of diaristic prose bound in a single volume.
—Rachel Polonsky, The Times Literary Supplement