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The Song of Igor's Cam...
 
by
Vladimir Nabokov
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The Song of Igor's Campaign: An Epic of the Twelfth Century

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3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  58 ratings  ·  6 reviews
The Song of Igor's Campaign is the most imaginative, celebrated, and studied work of early Russian literature. It describes a chivalric expedition undertaken in the late 12th century by a minor prince in the land of Rus' to defeat, against overwhelming odds, a powerful alliance in a neighboring territory. The anonymous poet who chronicled this adventure packed unprecedente...more
Mass Market Paperback, 135 pages
Published 1960 by Vintage Books
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Mary Overton
Vladimir Nabokov's translation of Igor's defeat:
From early morn to eve,
and from eve to dawn,
tempered arrows fly,
sabers resound against helmets,
steel lances crack.
In the field unknown, midst the Kuman land,
the black sod under hooves
was sown with bones
and irrigated with gore.
As grief they came up
throughout the Russian land.

What dins unto me,
what rings unto me?
Early today, before the effulgences,
Igor turns back his troops:
he is anxious about his dear brother Vsevolod.
They fought one day;
they fought...more
Hamish
To be honest, epic poetry is not really one of my favorite genres. I enjoyed this more than I expected to, though. Nabokov's introduction and commentary (which is almost overkill at times) helped my understanding and appreciation a lot, and there really are some beautiful passages in it. But something about parts of it felt off to me, and I couldn't quite see the genius that Nabokov so eloquently argues for. But definitely worth reading if, like me, you're a Russian lit nerd.
Stacy
This epic poem was one I could appreciate, but I cannot say I really enjoyed it. It's a bit hard to follow, as I find Russian literature to be in general.
Christopher Sutch
Nabokov is typically self-deprecating regarding his talents as a translator and a poet, but this "unreadable" poem is actually quite readble indeed. I don't agree with him that it is among the best medieval poems, but it is an interesting historical document and Nabokov's historical and poetical notes make interesting reading.
Cody
I know absolutely nothing about Russian history or mythology, so this poem lost a lot of meaning for me, but it was still rather beautiful to read, and rather interesting on top of that. At least I can say I read it right? That still counts? Haha.
Mark
I love medieval epics of all shapes and sizes. Can't really comment on whether this is a good translation or not.
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Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков

Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery and had an interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intrica...more
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