|Publisher:||Yale University Press|
|Product dimensions:||8.40(w) x 10.90(h) x 2.40(d)|
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Poetry Reader for Russian Learners
By Julia Titus, Mario Moore, Wayde McIntosh
Yale UNIVERSITY PRESSCopyright © 2015 Yale University
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One of the many wonderful rewards of learning a foreign language is the ability to read literary masterpieces in the original. It is especially true for poetry, which was once defined as something that is not translatable. Russia is well known for its rich literary legacy, but while many great novels, such as those by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, can be read and appreciated in translation, poetry loses much in translation. The purpose of this book is to introduce students of Russian to the great treasures of Russian poetry in the original, starting with Alexander Pushkin and the poets of the period that is known as the Golden Age of Russian poetry in the nineteenth century and moving chronologically into the twentieth century, ending with the poets of what has come to be known as the Silver Age.
All the poets selected for this anthology represent the classical canon of Russian poetry, well familiar to any Russian and taught in Russian schools as part of the school curriculum. The chosen poems reflect the essential poetic heritage of each poet, and I have aimed to include a wide variety of texts suitable for learners at different levels of language proficiency. The poems selected for each author are coded by difficulty of comprehension as follows: level (*): accessible to beginners in the first year; level (**): better suited to intermediate students; and level (***): for advanced students. The coding by level of difficulty is an approximation; it is certainly possible to read a more complex poem earlier in one's studies; it would just take more time and effort on the part of the student.
There is a brief biographical sketch for each poet, allowing the student to situate the poet within the Russian literary tradition. Each poem is accompanied by additional background information where appropriate. It is also accompanied by a glossary in the margins; a series of assignments focusing the student's attention on grammar and new lexical items, stressing root recognition and morphology in order to facilitate vocabulary retention; and general questions in English for discussion. The anthology has a companion website, and complete audio files for each poem are available for downloading through iTunes.
The audio component of the anthology is especially valuable. Learning poems by heart has been shown to have many benefits for improving foreign language skills since by listening to a poem over and over and repeating it, a student is automatically learning the correct pronunciation, new vocabulary, and correct structure. For these reasons it is highly recommended that students of all levels try to memorize the poems as they read them. In my institution many foreign language departments organize annual spring poetry readings where students recite poems and win prizes for best performance.
While the anthology is designed as an introduction to Russian poetry as it developed through the centuries and the poets and poems are listed chronologically, the poems can be read out of order if the instructor wishes to focus on a particular author or theme. Each poem contains a complete set of glosses so that it is not dependent on a previous reading. In the questions for discussion in English there are frequent calls for comparison between poems dealing with the same subject by different authors (for example, compare "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" by Lermontov and "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ..." by Pushkin or compare the winter landscape in Pushkin with that in Tyutchev), thus drawing the student's attention to the interconnectedness of the Russian literary tradition.
The anthology can be used by any learner of Russian, be he/she a currently registered student or an independent learner who has studied Russian and wishes to refresh his/her language skills. It can be a component of a language or literature course, or it can be used in a Russian for Heritage Learners class. In my courses, in addition to asking students to memorize some of the poems, I assign them presentations on an author of choice so that they can do additional research and take a more active role in their learning process. This works especially well in the Heritage Learners' courses, where students are more accustomed to memorizing poetry and want to share the poetic heritage of their parents and grandparents.
This book grew out of my firm conviction that reading poetry in the original is extremely rewarding and motivating for any student of a foreign language. It is especially true for Russian, where poetry has always been an integral part of the literary tradition and culture. I hope to inspire all readers to continue their study of Russian and share my pleasure of reading and love of poetry by providing a step-by-step guided introduction to the masterpieces of Russian poetry.
Excerpted from Poetry Reader for Russian Learners by Julia Titus, Mario Moore, Wayde McIntosh. Copyright © 2015 Yale University. Excerpted by permission of Yale UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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