Journey to Armenia

Just emerging (I hope!) from a bout of flu. Bad for business but good for re-discovering some of the books on my bookshelves, most particularly Journey to Armenia by Osip Mandelstam.

I have this book in several forms, best in two editions from the Redstone Press: a spiral bound edition and as a beautifully produced ‘book in a box’. The text of both is the brilliant translation by Clarence Brown, with an introduction by Bruce Chatwin.

I did a search at the Redstone site, and sadly both editions are currently unavailable. However their diary for 2009 looks good and Santa, if you’re listening, the special edition of Ants Have Sex in Your Beer by David Shrigley would make a fine present.

But back to Mandelstam – some of the most beautiful prose you’ll ever get to read, from a great poet who perished in Stalin’s Gulag.

What is there to say about the climate on Sevan?

The golden currency of cognac in the secret cupboard of the mountain sun.

And if you haven’t already read Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned by Nadezhda Mandelstam (his widow) – don’t delay. Two of the most important books written in the twentieth century.

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