For a brief time during World War II in , several of her poems were published in the literary monthly Zvezda. In , her poem "Courage" appeared on a front page of Pravda. In , following the German invasion, Akhmatova delivered an inspiring radio address to the women of Leningrad. She was evacuated to Tashkent where she read her poems to hospitalized soldiers.
In an effort to gain freedom for her son who had been exiled to Siberia, Akhmatova's poems eulogizing Stalin appeared in several issues of the weekly magazine Ogonyok. It is divided into three parts and has no consistent plot or conventional hero. This poem wasn't published in the Soviet Union until The earliest poems were dated and the remainders were written from Requiem is ten short, numbered poems that deal with her personal experiences following the arrests of her husband, friends and son.
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White Flock : Poetry of Anna Akhmatova
Ausstellung - Paul Holzapfel. Perchtenlauf Lesung mit Herbert Bichl Neu auf der Homepage. Vinogradov, a peripheral Formalist, approached her poetry from a purely linguistic point of view, perceiving in it "semantic clusters"—a selection and grouping of words that give the best clue to Akhmatova's secluded poetic world. Zhirmunskii, Eikhenbaum, and Vinogradov were the first to treat Akhmatova's poetry systematically and expertly; and even though their approach is somewhat exclusive, many of their findings are still valid today and are often repeated.
Akhmatova's reappearance shortly before the second World War provoked no flurry of literary critiques: her long silence, caused by her basically un-Soviet attitude, was all too readily recalled. Her contribution to the body of war poetry was only a part of the common effort and as such deserved no special praise. And when Zhdanov roundly excoriated the poet in , there ensued another period of silence on the part of both herself and the critics. Zhdanov's judgment of Akhmatova's poetry is typically insensitive: a nonliterary, strictly political, totalitarian approach.
The greatest fault in her poetry he finds is its individualism. Basic with her are amorous-erotic motifs, intertwined with motifs of sorrow, yearning, death, mysticism, a sense of doom. The feeling of being doomed—an understandable feeling for the social consciousness of a dying group; gloomy tones of a death-bed hopelessness, mystical experiences, coupled with eroticism.
As such, she is totally alien to modern Soviet actuality and even dangerous for the upbringing of Soviet youth. This is so much cant, the stock fulminations of many a political hack. The real reason for Zhdanov's attack—a need for a scapegoat—I have already noted.
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Only Stalin's death and a relative liberalization of the literary life afterwards brought Akhmatova back to public life and made feasible the publication of a number of writings about her. This second phase of the Soviet critical evaluation of her work was ushered in by the appearance of anthologies of her poetry in and In his afterword to the first anthology, A. Surkov, one of the leading "apparatus" men in the literary field, set the tone for a new policy toward Akhmatova when he declared she had entered the ranks of Soviet poets "as a mature writer, made wise by many years of hard living and hard thinking.
This is the reason, Surkov explains with a straightface, why she busied herself with literary essays and translations between two World Wars, while at the same time leading a "complicated, even tragic" life. The tragic fate of her country in the second World War thus brought Anna Akhmatova back into the mainstream of Soviet poetry. The 's have seen several articles and one book on her. A sympathetic view of her poetry was recently expressed by Lev Ozerov in his article "The Secrets of the Trade.
He calls the last two decades of her creativity "the most intensive and profound period," while the years between her first silence and reappearance in were "the years of the lull.
Her later poetry is philosophically tinged, and her main interest is in the world and man in it. Her strikingly personal poems are now imbued with a generally human concern. Similarly, while she was earlier personally affected by the outside world, she now finds rapport with that world through her spiritual peace. This view of Ozerov, sincere though it may be, is typical of the efforts on the part of some Soviet critics to make amends and to change Akhmatova into a good Soviet poet, whose main concern came to be the welfare of society and the dream of a better future.
The early Akhmatova is well-nigh forgotten, the purely literary quality of her poetry is secondary to her social posture. Her terrible ordeal under the Stalinist terror is glossed over in one short paragraph. And Requiem is not mentioned at all.
Anna Akhmatova - Wikiquote
By far the most serious evaluation of Akhmatova has been undertaken by A. In his book and an article on the poetess he, too, enumerates the well-known qualities of her work, the framework of her poetry, the influences on her, and her stand before and after the Revolution. Interestingly, he divides her creativity into three periods: , , and In the first period she wrote poems of personal love, as an Acmeist and under the influence of Pushkin and Annenskii.
Her reserve and reticence disclose discord and instability, forcing her to seek salvation in religion, nature, and poetry. The second period is one of inner transformation and adjustment to the new society. She comes closer to the people and to her country; she has made peace with the world and thus has entered into Soviet poetry.
Admittedly, the price she has had to pay is a "certain uniformity of her poems. In the third period Akhmatova becomes truly a Soviet poet. She not only accepts the new reality, she views the distant past in retrospect and rejects much that had been near and dear to her. She turns to patriotic and political poetry.
Her Pushkinian radiance, harmony, and wisdom are the tangible results of this beneficial transformation. Such evaluation by Pavlovskii is very much in line with that of Ozerov and other Soviet critics. It is schematic, tendentious, and incomplete. His division into periods exemplifies these strictures. By choosing and as dividing points he wants to show how important these years were for Akhmatova. As a matter of truth, her poetry during and after the Revolution, until her silence in , is little different from that before the Revolution.
And she reappeared a year before the second World War began in Russia.
Furthermore, the period of silence from to was simply a matter of involuntary passivity. Requiem, the proof of her inability to accept the Stalinist reality, was described by Pavlovskii only as a personal tragedy, "the confession of a suffering mother's heart. Pavlovskii also gives too much weight to Akhmatova's "political" poems; they are considered by many to be her weakest.
His book nevertheless makes a number of telling points. These concern primarily the literary aspects of Akhmatova's poetry, especially when it is considered within the context of Russian literature in general.
Pavlovskii writes of these aspects in more detail than anyone after the Formalist critics and before Dobin. His extensive discussion of the complex Poem without a Hero is of special merit. In it he sees the synthesis of Akhmatova's most important themes and forms; he calls it a "poem of conscience.
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Until a new study appears, Pavlovskii's book has to be considered the major work in Akhmatoviana, its many serious shortcomings notwithstanding. Among other writings by Soviet critics and poets, short articles by Kornei Chukovskii, Andrei Siniavskii, Aleksei Surkov, and Aleksandr Tvardovskii should be mentioned. Chukovskii speaks mainly about the Poem without a Hero, finding its author "the master of historical painting," which is the essence of her entire poetry. Siniavskii complains about the entrenched fallacy that Akhmatova should be treated primarily as the author of her prerevolutionary poetry.
There is a new Akhmatova Siniavskii pointedly cites Requiem , not only thematically but even in structure and tonality. Unlike other poets, she changes while striving toward the perfection of classic Russian poetry. Siniavskii cites the example of her miniatures which, seemingly narrow and autobiographical, display a powerful art of the exalted, heroic, and tragic word and gesture. It is indeed unfortunate that Siniavskii has not written, thus far, more about Akhmatova, because he would probably be able to give a very competent and impartial assessment of her poetic art.
Both Surkov and Tvardovskii, in their necrologies after Akhmatova's death, in addition to repeating some well-known facts about her poetry, speak about her attitude toward the Soviet regime. Her ordeal of , the year of Zhdanov's attack, Surkov dismisses lightly as "new trials. He defends the limited scope of her poetry by evoking Chernishevskii's saying that people do not commit suicide because of world problems but because of problems in their hearts.
Tvardovskii then touches upon a very sensitive nerve—the not-so-gallant treatment of the poet "at the well-known time. A more ambitious approach to Akhmatova's poetry was undertaken by another Soviet critic, Efim Dobin. In his articles he limits himself to the literary merits of her poetry, thus avoiding tendentiousness and the untenability of politically colored interpretations. There is not much new in his presentation, but he attempts a systematic study of Akhmatova's first decade and of Poem without a Hero and, moreover, illustrates his points with copious quotations from the poems; the only two such articles Dobin has published to date, they are undoubtedly chapters from a forthcoming book.
If his announced book is based on the kind of examination displayed in his two articles, it should be the outstanding evaluation of her work, especially of its purely literary aspects. The Akhmatova scholarship outside Russia has been limited to a few articles, and even they have been mostly of an informative character. It was not until many years later that the critics abroad wrote about her, spurred by Zhdanov's merciless attack. Leonid Strakhovsky wrote several articles and devoted a chapter to Akhmatova in his book on three Acmeist poets.
In all of them he speaks of her as a "poetess of tragic love. While recollecting the past, Akhmatova compares it with the present. She is essentially an urban poet, a poet of St. Petersburg and later of Leningrad. As the first Word War progressed, the poet developed a stronger religious feeling, although she had always possessed a religion of a strong, simple, almost primitive faith. For Strakhovsky, The White Flock reflects the war and the Revolution; The Plantain represents a turning point, when love begins to acquire a tragic note and the first political themes appear; and Anno Domini is Akhmatova's swan song, in which her love has turned to hate and has become "full of evil.
It is unfortunate that Strakhovsky's articles are of necessity sketchy and that they are written before Akhmatova's latest works were fully known. Otherwise he might have been able to provide a more rounded picture of the poet as a needed balance to the one-sided Soviet presentation.
Even so, Strakhovsky's writings are among the most serious, albeit incomplete, essays on Akhmatova.