In this collection of essays, acclaimed Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova reveals the tangled relationship between poetry and politics in Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe. His perspective on Eastern Europe in the twentieth century is that of a political dissident, a human rights campaigner, a writer, and a critic. His political writings explore and clarify what it means to belong to a nation, while his analysis of the work of major Russian and Polish writers produces a definite view of what it means to be a poet. Included here are essays published in the New York Review of Books and the New Republic, such as ones on subjects from South Africa to Ivan the Terrible, as well as a famous dialogue between the author and the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.
Tomas Venclova was born in the Lithuania of 1937. A book of his poetry, Winter Dialogue, was recently published by Northwestern University Press. He is a professor of Slavic languages and literatures at Yale University, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Columbia, and Berkeley.