Review: Bethea, David. «The Superstitious Muse»
David M. Bethea. The Superstitious Muse: Thinking Russian Literature Mythopoetically. Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and History.Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2009. 432 pp. ISBN 978-1-934843-17-8. Cloth.
Great poets transform mere words into verbal art. In the process, they may also transmute stories into myths and myths into stories. Poets cast their spell on readers and, when we are lucky, inspire their most discerning critics with a bit of their magic. Magic highlights this collection of David Bethea’s classic essays.
Bethea seems to have been enchanted, re-enchanted, and trans-enchanted by Pushkin’s ever-metamorphosing spirit. He is therefore an eerily appropriate guide to this elusive genius. “Let it be said,” Bethea explains, “that given his ‘protean’ genius and the remarkable capaciousness of his imaginative empathy, Pushkin could insert himself, or his ‘textual desire,’ into multiple roles” (231). If we substitute “critical” for “imaginative” in this sentence, the same may be said of Bethea himself.