Freedom to Believe

Olga Sedakova

Translated by: Slava I. Yastremski and Michael M. Naydan

Essays and Letters

263 pages
ISBN 1611482928

Freedom to Believe is a powerful collection of philosophical and religious essays by a modern poet of distinction. It introduces a highly original and controversial thinker to the Western reader. Olga Sedakova's central philosophical thought lies in the notion of existential freedom in its association with the liberating power of the arts, especially poetry. These convictions place her firmly in the Russian and European classical cultural traditions, which, in turn, have deep roots in Christianity. Devoutly Orthodox yet fiercely independent in her thinking, Sedakova's ecumenical humanism places her in opposition to both the "new left" and modern fundamentalism. Indeed, Sedakova's "conservatism" is more genuinely new than the so-called radicalism of the postmodernists, as she castigates "old totalitarianism" and new commercialism alike, in the name of a new cultural poetics and politics.

"[Sedakova's] erudite writings...deftly apposes the Soviet and the "new free" creative effort, presenting a brilliant critique of the vacuum and mediocrity of postmodern art. Sedakova's finest offering here, "Poetry and Anthropology," presents her tour-de-force exposé of an Osip Mandelstam poem. An invaluable book for those who delight in reason and artistic creation."

Hutchins, D. CHOICE 2011.

"[An] excellent collection...Yastremski has gone to great lengths to make the book accessible to the non-specialist, and his notes provide a rich context for bringing this unique and important voice to the general Western reader."--Yuri Corrigan,Slavic and East European Journal, 55: 4 (Winter 2011)

About the author:

Olga A. Sedakova is a world renowned poet and essayist, an author of twenty-nine books of poetry, prose, translations, and criticism. Her works have been translated into many languages, including Hebrew, Danish, and Albanian. Sedakova holds a PhD in Russian Folklore and was awarded a Doctor of Theology honoris causa by the Department of Theology of the Minsk European Humanities University. In 2005 she became Chevalier d'Honneur d'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française, and she was also awarded seven other Russian and international prizes, including The Christian Roots of Europe award by the Vatican (1998) and the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Prize for poetry and essays (2003).

About the translators:

Slava I. Yastremski is an Associate Professor of Russian at Bucknell University, a co-translator of five books of poetry and prose, including Olga Sedakova's Poems and Elegies (Bucknell University Press, 2003). Yastremski's translations of short stories and contemporary Russian poetry have appeared in such journals as Private Space, SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent (2007), and By Blood We Live (2009).

Michael M. Naydan is Woksob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and a prolific translator from Ukrainian and Russian. He has published seventeen books of translations, over thirty articles and more than fifty translations in scholarly and literary journals. Among his publications are: The Poetry of Lina Kostenko: Wanderings of the Heart (1990); Marina Tsvetaeva's "After Russia" (1992); Igor Klekh, A Country the Size of Binoculars (2004); Yuri Andrukhovych, Perverzion (2005); and Bohdan-Ihor Antonych, The Grand Harmony (2007).


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