Apart from the appeal of beauty and the medicinal or alimentary uses of plants, gardens reflect humanity’s attempt to understand its place in the world and to regain an edenic sense of belonging. As such, gardening is a pursuit that crosses national, cultural, ethnic and linguistic boundaries.
A lively account based on the fluctuating fortunes of one Russian-Armenian family illuminates the varying impact of large-scale historical developments in specific locations and on people of different ethnicities, religions and cultures. The Soviet Union, it becomes clear, was far from an undifferentiated monolith.
Privileged, pretentious, arrogant, self-indulgent, mediocre, male, white. Those who dislike Franzen certainly don’t hold back. Is it the writing, or that he serves as a handy embodiment of a currently popular bogeyman: the smug elitist who disparages mass culture in the name of a snootily exclusive ‘tradition’?
No figure in Greek myth is more ambiguous than Orpheus, who is both the musician who can charm wild beasts and the uxorious husband who wins his wife, Eurydice, back from the underworld. Theo Dorgan has brought something new and marvellously achieved to this rich nexus of story.
A bilingual collection of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poems contains some new poems and many previously published. The decision to use new versions, suggesting that there is no definitive way of translating a poem, will no doubt give food for thought to students of translation studies.