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Summer 1926

by Boris Pasternak, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Marina Tsvetayeva, preface by Susan Sontag, appendix and epilogue by Jamey Gambrell, translated by Margaret Wettlin, Walter Arndt, and Jamey Gambrell

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Edited by Yevgeny Pasternak, Yelena Pasternak, and Konstantin M. Azadovsky

The summer of 1926 was a time of trouble and uncertainty for each of the three poets whose correspondence is collected in this moving volume. Marina Tsvetayeva was living in exile in France and struggling to get by. Boris Pasternak was in Moscow, trying to come to terms with the new Bolshevik regime. Rainer Maria Rilke, in Switzerland, was dying. Though hardly known to each other, they began to correspond, exchanging a series of searching letters in which every aspect of life and work is discussed with extraordinary intensity and passion. Letters: Summer 1926 takes the reader into the hearts and minds of three of the twentieth century’s greatest poets at a moment of maximum emotional and creative pressure.


Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9780940322714
Pages: 408
Publication Date:


These letters are literature. All three poets are as eloquent here as they are in any of their other works...In the battle against repression, it is letters like these that show how the soul works its way out of the underground.
— Mark Rudman

An extraordinary correspondence...the high-minded cosmopolitanism of those days might make us weep for what seems a vanished golden age of European culture.
— John Bayley

Even more, this three-way correspondence sheds abundant light on the nature of inspiration, the creative process and how the poets influence each other....
The New York Times Book Review

...Important as keys to the three poets' literary attitudes, and to the intentions which lie behind some of the finest twentieth-century verse...
Times Literary Supplement

Nothing can dim the incandescence of those exchanges over a few months in 1926 when they were hurling themselves at one another, making their impossible, glorious demands.
— Susan Sontag, Los Angeles Times

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