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April 07, 1985|HARRY TRIMBORN

ARDIS ANTHOLOGY OF RUSSIAN ROMANTICISM, edited by Christine Rydel (Ardis/RLT, 2901 Heatherway, Ann Arbor, Mich., 48104: $42.50). There is, the editor admits, "a lot of second-rate literature" in this comprehensive anthology of poems, essays, short stories, criticism and fragments by nearly 50 Russian writers, spanning the relatively short period of 1810 to 1840. But the "Ardis Anthology" seeks to present not the best of the period but the most representative. It also tries to fill the gap left by similar anthologies produced by Soviet publishing houses that saw no need to include works deemed politically inappropriate. Though amply illustrated, this book is no coffee-table ornament as might be expected. It's a serious work that offers a close look at a fragment of 19th-Century Russian society through Rydel's detailed introductions to the book's sections and its offerings of forgotten efforts by little-known writers, as well as world-acclaimed works by such giants as Gogol, Pushkin and Lermontov. Its scholarly approach should not put off the casual reader; its many and varied selections make it one of those books that can be picked up at any time for a few moments of pleasant reading.

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