Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681372686
Pages: 280
Publication Date: December 4, 2018

Portraits without Frames

by Lev Ozerov, introduction by Boris Dralyuk, edited by Robert Chandler and Boris Dralyuk, translated from the Russian by Maria Bloshteyn, Robert Chandler, Boris Dralyuk, and Irina Mashinski


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An NYRB Classics Original

December 2018 selection for the NYRB Classics Book Club.

We stopped and Shklovsky told me
quietly, but clearly,
“Remember, we are on our way out.
On our way out.” And I recalled
...the wall of books,
all written by a man
who lived
in times that were hard to bear.

Lev Ozerov’s Portraits Without Frames offers fifty shrewd and moving glimpses into the lives of Soviet writers, composers, and artists caught between the demands of art and politics. Some of the subjects—like Anna Akhmatova, Isaac Babel, Andrey Platonov, and Dmitry Shostakovich—are well-known, others less so. All are evoked with great subtlety and vividness, as is the fraught and dangerous time in which they lived. Composed in free verse of deceptively artless simplicity, Ozerov’s portraits are like nothing else in Russian poetry.

ozerov dralyuk


Ozerov’s poems offer the reader poignant Soviet portraits-in-poetry, illuminated lives of the everyday and the literary Soviet saints. In these translations the finely wrought poems shine with their original wistfulness, love, and dedication: tramps, poets, and friends mingle in short deft snatches of stories.
—Sasha Dugdale