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Sunday, July 25, 2004

The poet and the philosopher: An opera!

Be still my beating heart! There is a new opera about the 1945 all-night encounter of the famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and the Russian-born British philosopher Isaiah Berlin (my current intellectual crush). Guest from the Future, written by Jonathan Levi and composed by Mel Marvin, premiered on Friday at Bard College in New York. The Globe's Ideas section retells the story of the meeting that Berlin later called the most important event of his life — and that Akhmatova came to believe, according to Celia Wren, "marked the beginning of the Cold War." That was some conversation!

I'm especially eager to see this opera because Levi wrote a novel that I enjoyed completely: A Guide for the Perplexed (sadly out of print), which includes some of the best passages describing Bach's music I've ever read. (Levi also helped launch Granta, but since I'm being candid this week about big holes in my cultural education, I'll confess that I've never read the magazine.)

If you want an introduction to Berlin's ideas, Michael Ignatieff's biography is very good — and tells the story of Akhmatova and Berlin's night of conversation.

("When Anna met Isaiah," Celia Wren, Boston Globe 7.25.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 25 July 2004 at 8:57 AM

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July 25, 2004 07:20 PM | Permalink for this comment

Chris, strangely, I'm having the same crush.

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