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Elaine Feinstein Biography

(1930– ), In a Green Eye, The Magic Apple Tree, The Celebrants and Other Poems

poet novels consciousness marriage

British poet and novelist, born in Lancashire of Ukrainian Jewish descent, educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. After working as an editor and a university lecturer Feinstein made her reputation as a poet: her collections include In a Green Eye (1966), The Magic Apple Tree (1971), The Celebrants and Other Poems (1973), The Feast of Euridice (1980), and City Music (1990). Feinstein's early influences were Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams but her translations of Marina Tsvetayeva and other modern Russian poets became crucial in the development of her own lyrical and narrative voice; Feinstein's acclaimed biography of Tsvetayeva appeared in 1987. The themes of Feinstein's poetry—the individual's striving for identity, the conflicts between personal and public life—also recur in her novels. The first of these, The Circle (1970), is dominated by the consciousness of Lena, whose interior monologue explores the concept of freedom within the close interdependence of marriage. Exile and Jewish consciousness is central to Children of the Ring (1975) and the autobiographical The Survivors (1982). In The Border (1984), Feinstein examines the pressures in a marriage between a poet and a scientist; as Jews, they are in flight from the political oppressions of Austria in the 1930s. Feminism, always an important theme, is brought into sharp focus in Mother's Girl (1987). Lighter in style is All You Need (1989), a lively satire on Thatcher's London. Loving Brecht (1992) traces the fictitious history of one of Brecht's lovers. Other novels include Dreamers (1994), a love story, which portrays European Jewry in the mid-nineteenth century when enlightenment and industrial progress offered hope to the dispossessed, and Lady Chatterley's Confession (1995). A biography, Lawrence's Women, was published in 1993.

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