Cover Image: The Symphonies

The Symphonies

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Member Reviews

This is a book of beautiful prose. Four stories speak to the intellectual imagination in a poetic and atmospheric voice. While Bely is to be lauded so too is the translator Jonathan Stone who has brought this prose to the English language maintaining the beauty of the writing. All four stories together can feel a little overwhelming - a little like four steak dinners in a row. Spaced out though they are to be savoured and enjoyed. Delicious!

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC
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It's hard to know where to start in writing about Bely's Symphonies. Firstly, the style of the prose leapt out at me, looking almost like a prose poem in the way the text was structured. It took me a little while to get used that, but once I did, I settled into the stories. Of the four sections, I enjoyed the first the most, as I liked the fairytale elements of the narrative. However, the remaining three pieces were also interesting, each in their own way, taking the mundane and turning it into something mystical and fantastical. Bely was a symbolist, and that is certainly clear from this text. It was intriguing to see the comparisons he was drawing and the way he highlighted different things, but by the end of four stories like that, it started to feel a little too much and I longed for something simpler again. Nonetheless, I could see the artistry that went into crafting this piece and I appreciated it as something new and experimental, even if I wouldn't want to read books in this style all the time. Recommended for readers who enjoy a touch of the avant-garde in their early-twentieth century fiction, and those interested in the Russian symbolist movement.
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A worthy author who has earned a place in world literature through books like this one, which manages to entertain and memorably engages the intellectual imagination.
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