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Marina Tsvetaeva, PHAEDRA

Language: In English


A rehearsed reading by Ben Livingstone and Kristin Hutchinson Introduced by Angela Livingstone

Marina Tsvetaeva’s last verse drama “Phaedra” (1927) is surely the most extraordinary of all literary treatments of the classical Greek legend from Euripides’ to Tony Harrison’s. Its most powerful figures are the female ones; dangerously high voltage runs through all of them. Tsvetaeva radically rewrites the legend, and the work’s sustained emotional pressure and dizzying verse rhythms make it a peak of Russian 20th-century verse.

Angela Livingstone’s new translation (published by Angel Classics on 30 August) is the first to recreate its daring poetry in English.

“Tsvetaeva’s ‘Phaedra’ is a work of thrilling intensity, and this amazing translation has captured the heart and soul of it.” – Michael Frayn

“This translation reveals brilliant new depths of treasure in the cornucopia of Tsvetaeva’s work.” – Carol Rumens


Angela Livingstone is Professor Emeritus, University of Essex, where she taught literature (mainly Russian) for thirty-one years. Among her publications are “Lou Andreas-Salomé” (her life and writings), 1984, four books on Pasternak (most recently “The Marsh of Gold: Pasternak’s Writings on Inspiration and Creation”, 2008), and two books presenting translations of work by Tsvetaeva with commentary: “Art in the Light of Conscience: Eight Essays on Poetry”, 1992/2010, and the long poem “The Ratcatcher”, 1999.


Ben Livingstone read French and Norwegian at University College London, then trained as an actor at East 15 Acting School. He has since worked extensively as an actor both in the UK and abroad in repertory theatres, at the Royal Shakespeare Company, in touring productions, performance art, TV, film, in museums, galleries, outdoor productions and street theatre. He has also worked as music director on a number of productions, mostly for the RSC .


Kristin Hutchinson studied English at Oxford and trained as an actor at The Poor School and with Gardzienice Theatre Association in Poland. She has worked in television, radio and extensively in theatre, including a long collaboration with the director Katie Mitchell, with productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre, most recently “Beauty and the Beast”, “Waves”, “Dreamplay” and “Iphigenia at Aulis”.


Angel Classics publishes new translations of authors unavailable in English, or only in inadequate translations.

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