Introduction & Overview of Death Sentences

Radmila Lazic
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Death Sentences Summary & Study Guide Description

Death Sentences Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on Death Sentences by Radmila Lazic.

In the war-torn country of Serbia, few writers, feminists, political activists, or editors have been as influential as Radmila Lazic. One of her country's most prominent poets, Lazic has published six books of forthright, bold, and moving poetry. She has also founded and edited a magazine of feminism, edited two anthologies, and founded a civil resistance movement to protest Serbia's infamous militant leader, Slobodan Milosevic. It was not until 2003 that the first translation of her work into English, A Wake for the Living, was published. This poetry collection opens with a striking poem titled "Smaknuca" ("Death Sentences"), in which a woman tells her lover that she will not be like Ophelia, the love interest of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Instead of Ophelia's death sentence of drowning, she says, she wants the death sentence of her lover taking off her dress and putting his arms around her neck.

"Death Sentences" is a poem with implications about feminism and sex, and it uses Ophelia—a key symbol of traditional, passive femininity—to demonstrate some of the problems with an outdated and repressed idea of femininity. The poem implies that the speaker will enjoy a liberated and open sexuality without the traditional, overly romantic, and idealized constraints of love. Lazic also presents a deep ambiguity in the poem, since this new, free love is also a "death sentence," thus establishing a key theme throughout A Wake for the Living, that joy coexists with hopelessness and death. Translated by eminent Serbian-American poet Charles Simic, "Death Sentences" is available in the 2003 Graywolf Press edition of A Wake for the Living.

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This section contains 264 words
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Poetry for Students
Death Sentences from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.