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Glossolalia: A Poem about Sound

Andrei Bely was one of the most prolific poets, novelists, and theoreticians among the Russian Symbolists. Engaged throughout his life with the essence of language, his thoughts and findings emerge repeatedly in his essays and novels. None of his writings on the subject, however, are as remarkable and multi-faceted as this Poem about Sound.

Glossolalia is a complex examination of philology, philosophy, esoterica, and poetry, all in search of the relationship between sound and sense. It reverberates with sound associations and transcends all boundaries of language, discipline, and tradition. It is simultaneously a treatise on the origins of language and the world’s creation through the movements of sounds. Bely reenacts, through the mouth, the cosmology of Rudolf Steiner.

Bely’s work, in its bold attempt to invoke the “living word,” remains one of the most far-reaching poetic experiments of the twentieth Century, and this edition offers his fascinating text for the first time in both an English and a German translation, along with the original Russian version and an in-depth commentary by Thomas R. Beyer.

About the Author

Andrei Bely (1880–1934), was born Boris Nikolayevich Bugayev in Moscow. A leading symbolist, he had a close but stormy relationship with Aleksandr Blok. His poetry includes the four-volume Symphonies (1901–08); his prose include The Silver Dove (1910), Petersburg (1912), and Kotik Letayev (1922), an autobiographical novel in the manner of James Joyce. He experimented, often mixing realism and symbolism in complex forms. In his later years, Bely was influenced by Rudolph Steiner’s anthroposophy. He accepted the Soviet regime, but his works were not well received by Soviet critics. By the mid-1970s, Western critics had discovered Bely, and several, including Vladimir Nabokov, proclaimed him the most important Russian writer of the twentieth century. He died in Moscow.

Thomas R. Beyer Jr was born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York where he attended Xaverian HS. he is a graduate of Georgetown University (1969) and the University of Kansas (1974). For the past 45 years he has been a Professor of Russian at Middlebury College in Vermont. He is the author of over a dozen books to learn Russian, several translations of the Russian writer Andrei Bely. Considered an expert on Russian writers in emigration in Germany and the United States, Professor Beyer has lectured extensively in Russia, Germany and the United States. For the past few years he has offered seminars on the works of Dan Brown designed to permit students and readers separate fact from fiction.

Additional information

Weight 25 oz
Dimensions 8 × 0.8 × 8.5 in




February 2004






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