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When were you thinking of shooting yourself?

Sophie Pinkham: Mayakovsky, 16 February 2017

Mayakovsky: A Biography 
by Bengt Jangfeldt, translated by Harry Watson.
Chicago, 616 pp., £26.50, January 2015, 978 0 226 05697 5
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Volodya: Selected Works 
by Vladimir Mayakovsky, edited by Rosy Carrick.
Enitharmon, 312 pp., £14.99, November 2015, 978 1 910392 16 4
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... seen as the Soviet Union’s point of no return. This is the view taken by the Swedish scholar Bengt Jangfeldt in this biography, the first significant non-Soviet Life of the poet: ‘The bullet that penetrated Vladimir Mayakovsky’s heart also shot to pieces the dream of communism and signalled the beginning of the communist nightmare of the ...

Hypnotise Her

Thomas Jones: Axel Munthe’s exaggerations, 29 January 2009

Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele 
by Bengt Jangfeldt, translated by Harry Watson.
Tauris, 381 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 1 84511 720 7
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... it is one of the duties of a biographer not to let a good story stand in the way of the facts, and Bengt Jangfeldt’s new life of Munthe is nothing if not dutiful. He does a thorough and in its way fascinating job of sorting out the chronology, filling in the holes and tempering the exaggerations of Munthe’s account. ‘As a source-book, The Story of ...

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