Review published on March 11, 2017.
I thoroughly enjoyed Vladimir M. by Robert Littell. The book contains the discussion and reminiscences of four of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s muses, and the book is laid out as it was recorded. I thought it was a great idea to leave the book as transcripts broken up by the actual interludes of the recordings. It made a refreshing change to read a book in that format and it worked really well. The subject of the discussions was the relationship Vladimir had with each of his muses and how he was remembered by them. It was really interesting to see how one person can influence people in such different ways and leave varying impressions on different people even when similar conversations were taking place. The four muses were with Vladimir Mayakovsky at different points in his short life and that is reflected by his changing political ideals, starting off as a passionate Bolshevik supporter whose idealistic views are crushed over time but still remaining loyal to, albeit disillusioned with, the concept of the revolution and communism. Their reminiscing portrays how tormented he was and that how he lived and his mental state made his suicide inevitable. During their conversations, all four women show much they adored him and how charming he was and how easy it was to succumb to that charm. Their tales also show a superficial aspect to his character and how his loyalties can be fiercely strong at times, although he can also turn against people very easily, and how this probably contributes to his tormented state of mind. I also really enjoyed the interactions between the women, how you can see how certain ones admired the others, but also how their jealousies and issues with each are also very apparent in their discussions. Overall, it is a great book. It is a brilliant format and a very interesting portrayal of the poet. I highly recommend this book, even for those who do not have an interest in or knowledge of the poet himself.
Jo Kirk 5/5
Vladimir M. By Robert Littell
Duckworth Overlook 9780715651940 hbk Jan 2017
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