Moscow Memoirs: Memories of Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Literary Russia Under Stalin
Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova stood at the pinnacle of twentieth-century Russian literature, and their works continue to stand as monuments of ... Show synopsis Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova stood at the pinnacle of twentieth-century Russian literature, and their works continue to stand as monuments of literary achievement, yet they also suffered brutally under Stalin's regime, martyrs to its paranoia and its suppression of free thought. In the early 1960s Akhmatova encouraged Emma Gerstein to record her memories of Mandelstam, but Gerstein's vivid and uncompromising account was not at all what she had expected. When first published in Moscow in 1998, her memoirs provoked a wide array of responses, from condemnation to rapturous praise. A shrewd observer and serious literary specialist in her own right, Gerstein was uniquely qualified to remove both poets from their pedestals, and to bring the extraordinary atmosphere of the Soviet 1930s back to life. Part biography, part autobiography, this book radically alters our view of Russia's two greatest twentieth-century poets and provides memorable vignettes of numerous other figures, Boris Pasternak among them, from that partly forgotten and misunderstood world. Gerstein's integrity and perceptive comments make her account compulsively readable and enable us to reexamine that extraordinary epoch.