Books: The Pole of Cold and Cruelty

WITHIN THE WHIRLWIND by Eugenia Ginzburg; Translated by Ian Boland Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 423 pages; $17.50

"Poetry is power," observed Osip Mandelstam, Russia's great 20th century poet who died some time in the late '30s in a Soviet concentration camp. "Poetry is respected only in this country —people are killed for it. There's no place where more people are killed for it."

In Stalin's time, certainly, poetry had the power to arouse the wrath of a dictator bent on destroying his country's intellectual and spiritual resources. At the same time, poetry had the power...

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