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PUBLICATIONS IN OTHER LANGUAGES 12 489 rassed by his appearance and behaviour. The book is illustrated with several black and white works by Kurelek and some photographs. To get a better idea of what immigrant life was like at the turn of the century, however, one will want to turn to Greater than Kings and/or Land of Pain , Land of Promise. 2 1 YVONNE GRABOWSKI The most interesting works in Slavic languages other than Ukrainian for the last two years appear to be two novels by Josef Skvorecky and the poems of Dora Gabe translated by Nikola Roussanoff and John Robert Colombo. Colombo and Roussanoff have translated yet another volume from the Bulgarian: Dora Gabe's Depths: Conversations with the Sea (originally published Sofia 1976; Toronto: Hounslow '978), with parallel Bulgarian /English texts. Their choice this time has been extremely fortuitious since Dora Gabe is considered by her compatriots to be the best contemporary Bulgarian poet. In a country where, as a result of centuries of Turkish occupation, few women were able to make a name for themselves , Dora Gabe (born in 1888) was already a well-known poet and translator before the First World War. The grande dame of Bulgarian letters, she can be considered a spiritual parent of the present-day generation of Bulgarian poets, many of whom have been greatly influenced by her writings. Translating poetry into English from a language as different as Bulgarian demands superior talents of re-creation, since the translator must practically compose new poems in his own language without losing either the content or the artistic qualities of the original. Colombo has risen in a superb manner to this complicated task, producing a collection of poems of exceptional pristine quality, reflecting the studied simplicity of the Bulgarian original. The most difficult part was perhaps the rendering of Dora Gabe's favourite poetic device of assonance. The poems are the lyrical musings of a woman at the end of a busy and fruitful life. Thoughts on death and the impermanance of human life permeate the beautiful lyrics. The poet looks at the sea, contemplates the sand, the waves, the birds flying in the sky. All remind her ofthe eternal movement in the universe which is the essence of nature and of all lite: always seemingly the same, yet incessantly undergoing subtle, almost imperceptible changes. Gabe implies that human existence follows the pattern of the sea and the skies. It is full, yet at the same time empty; it is encompassed by incessant sound and eternal silence. The opposites permeate each other in the eternal dialectic of nature. This unity of 490 LETTERS IN CANADA 1978 opposites is the only answer one can find to queries about the sense of human existence. There are no answers, there are only questions; and thus most of the poems end with an existentialist question mark. Yet there is no feeling of resignation in Gabe as with each poem she renews the same search. Her quest is as untiring and relentless as the sound of the waves and the movement of the clouds. In two recent novels Josef Skvorecky asks himself a similar question: is there meaning in human existence? Le Miracleen Boheme, translated from the Czech into French by Claudia Ancelot (Paris: Gallimard 1978), was written in 1972, and appeared first in Canada, published by Sixty-Eight Publishers, a small house (founded by Skvorecky and his wife Zdena Salivarova, also a novelist) which specializes in works in Czech by authors in exile or by those whose books cannot appear in Czechoslovakia because of censorship. Nibiih iniemjra /idskych dus; [The Adventures of an Engineer of Human Souls], 2 volumes, was released by the same firm in 1977. Beginning at a starting-point similar to Gabe's, Skvorecky replies to the central question according to his artistic temperament, in a manner diametrically opposed to hers. Skvorecky's two novels are united by the same partly autobiographical hero, Danny, who experiences the vicissitudes of an ironical fate first in Czechoslovakia then in Canada. In the course of the narration we find out, along with the chief character, about concentration convents for the incarceration and exploitation of hapless ecclesiastics, about...

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