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24 January 1991
Selected Poems 
by Anna Akhmatova, selected and translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward.
Harvill, 173 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 00 271041 2
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The Complete Poems of Anna​ Akhmatova 
translated by Judith Hemschemeyer, edited by Roberta Reeder.
Zephyr, 1635 pp., £85, October 1990, 0 939010 13 5
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The Garden: New and Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Bella Akhmadulina.
Boyars, 171 pp., £9.95, January 1991, 0 7145 2924 9
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... cares to read it, anywhere, any time’. The third stage is the reader’s setting off the device successfully, without which ‘the poem can hardly be said to exist in a practical sense at all.’ Akhmatova would have dryly agreed with all that. Like her fellow Acmeists, Gumilev and Mandelstam, she took a down-to-earth view of the process, although none of them would have gone along with the English ...

Sugar-Paper Blue

Ruth Fainlight

16 December 1993
... I was touching holy relics. ‘Here’s Mandelshtam’s first published verse,’ Galya translated. ‘These woodcuts are by Goncharova. And look: Blok. Bely. Gumilev.’ ‘The Acmeist who married Akhmatova?’ (I was such a show-off.) ‘Yes,’ they confirmed. ‘And this is the book with the cycle of poems dedicated to her by Marina Tsvetaeva’     – who titled them The Muse, and later said ...
25 May 1995
The Akhmatova​ Journals. Vol. I: 1938-1941 
by Lydia Chukovskaya, translated by Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova.
Harvill, 310 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 00 216391 8
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Remembering Anna​ Akhmatova 
by Anatoly Nayman, translated by Wendy Rosslyn.
Halban, 240 pp., £18, June 1991, 9781870015417
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Anna Akhmatova​ and Her Circle 
edited by Konstantin Polivanov, translated by Patricia Beriozkina.
Arkansas, 281 pp., $32, January 1994, 1 55728 308 7
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Anna AkhmatovaPoet and Prophet 
by Roberta Reeder.
Allison and Busby, 592 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 85031 998 6
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Women’s Works in Stalin’s Time: On Lidia Chukovskaia and Nadezhda Mandelstam 
by Beth Holmgren.
Indiana, 225 pp., £25, September 1993, 0 253 33860 3
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... my encounters with the great poet about whom Lydia Chukovskaya and Anatoly Nayman have left records of a fullness and intimacy that my few recollections can hardly rival. But such was the stature of Akhmatova that every slightest pebble lending strength to the aggregate of her posthumous monument must seem valuable. Whoever sets out to write about her soon wishes that the English lexicon were richer in ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Painting the Century

16 November 2000
... tamed by the painter, somehow still being themselves. Lucian Freud’s Evacuee of 1942, feral and maybe miserable; Daphne Spencer, giving nothing away in the portrait by her uncle Stanley (1951); AnnaAkhmatova in 1922, rather dryly painted, tentatively drawn and stiffly posed in a portrait by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin which is also entirely convincing as a human record – a great portrait need not be ...

Clean Poetry

John Bayley

18 August 1983
Collected Poems 1970-1983 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 172 pp., £5.95, May 1983, 0 85635 462 7
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... The Acmeist poet Zenkevich declared in 1911 that when he first met AnnaAkhmatova he was struck by her saying that poetry was ‘something organic’, and that she was amused at the idea of the poet Valery Bryusov schooling himself to write a certain number of lines each day ...

Memories of Brodsky

Anatoly Naiman: Akhmatova, Brodsky and Me

13 May 1999
... some thought to have been close to him – with a view to establishing the parallel with Pushkin, that it is almost impossible now to separate him from his own legend. What Derzhavin was to Pushkin, AnnaAkhmatova was to Brodsky: the mentor who anointed him as the next great Russian poet. When Brodsky died, the journal Zvezda printed Akhmatova’s quatrain ‘I don’t weep for myself now’, with a ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

David Jackson: Russia and the Arts

18 May 2016
... with works by Olga Della-Vos-Kardovskaya, who along with Osip Braz, whose portrait of Anton Chekhov is seen here, was one of Repin’s pupils at the Academy. Her decoratively symbolist portrait of AnnaAkhmatova draws attention also to a period of prolific cultural activity in which innovative female practitioners would at last be noticed. For the most part, however, the zenith of Russian ...

Two Hares and a Priest

Patricia Beer: Pushkin

13 May 1999
Pushkin 
by Elizabeth Feinstein.
Weidenfeld, 309 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 297 81826 0
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... than a mildly derogatory legend, which was finally dispelled by the publication of some of her letters. Well into the 20th century, however, Natalya has been the object of considerable contempt: AnnaAkhmatova, for example, often became vituperative about her. Comparatively little has been said about either Pushkin or his wife in this country, but in a recent broadcast Gwyn Williams described ...

In the field

Nigel Hamilton

5 November 1981
Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... Some weeks ago Sir Isaiah Berlin gave a broadcast in which he described his first visit to the legendary Russian poet AnnaAkhmatova in Moscow in 1945 – a visit cut short in its prime by the bellowing of Randolph Churchill in the courtyard outside, hotly pursued by the Russian Secret Police. Alas, such humorous anecdotes will ...

Among the Writers

Joanna​ Biggs: In Beijing

10 May 2012
... at the Chinese Embassy (she thought the government had hired the students who banged drums and did dragon dances to drown them out). I’d imagined that meeting dissidents would be like meeting AnnaAkhmatova. But Qi was tired and cold and I couldn’t think of a question that didn’t seem childish. So I didn’t ask her anything ...
8 February 1990
Boris Pasternak: The Tragic Years 1930-1960 
by Evgeny Pasternak.
Collins Harvill, 278 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 272045 0
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Boris Pasternak 
by Peter Levi.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 09 173886 5
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Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol.I: 1890-1928 
by Christopher Barnes.
Cambridge, 507 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 521 25957 6
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Poems 1955-1959 and An Essay in Autobiography 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Michael Harari and Manya Harari.
Collins Harvill, 212 pp., £6.95, January 1990, 9780002710657
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The Year 1905 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Richard Chappell.
Spenser, £4.95, April 1989, 0 9513843 0 9
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... critical opinion has always varied sharply about the actual merits of the book. A judge as sensitive as Stuart Hampshire finds its genius in the love relation between Lara and Zhivago, while the poet AnnaAkhmatova, although she admired Pasternak as a poet, could not take him seriously as a deep sage and public figure, or even as a lover, and professed maliciously to suppose that the Lara episodes had ...

The Beloved

Michael Ignatieff

6 February 1997
Giving Offence: Essays on Censorship 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Chicago, 289 pp., $27.50, March 1996, 0 226 11174 1
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... an ode to Stalin, which began: He forges decrees like horseshoes – decrees and decrees; This one gets it in the balls, that one in the forehead,         him right between the eyes. AnnaAkhmatova, who was present, told Mandelstam that she thought it ‘a monumental, rough-hewed, broad-sheet character of a piece’ – in other words, a crude political lampoon. The discriminating literary ...

The Project

Robert Conquest

22 December 1994
Stalin and the Bomb 
by David Holloway.
Yale, 464 pp., £19.95, September 1994, 0 300 06056 4
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... or executed. The case of the brilliant young physicist Matvei Bronstein, shot in February 1938, is particularly striking. Bronstein’s widow, Lydia Chukovskaya, no less courageous than her friend AnnaAkhmatova, in the long run faced down Stalinism, and tells her husband’s fate in her story ‘Sofia Petrovna’. The manuscript, hidden for years by a series of friends, was published only in 1988 ...

The Writer and the Valet

Frances Stonor Saunders: Pasternak and the Valet

24 September 2014
... less well known, but equals in the manner of their death. Boris Pasternak in 1956, the year he gave the manuscript to BerlinWilliam Hayter, the British Ambassador in MoscowIsaiah Berlin in 1985.AnnaAkhmatovaPasternak’s dacha in PeredelkinoPreviousNextHow Pasternak survived the necropolitics of the Stalin era was a mystery. ‘It is surprising that I remained whole during the Purges,’ he ...

How was it for you?

David Blackbourn

30 October 1997
Man Without a Face: The Memoirs of a Spymaster 
by Markus Wolf and Anne McElvoy.
Cape, 367 pp., £17.99, June 1997, 0 224 04498 2
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The File: A Personal History 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
HarperCollins, 227 pp., £12.99, July 1997, 0 00 255823 8
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... lead a charmed life. When the Germans invaded in 1941, the Wolfs were evacuated to Kazakhstan on the Writers’ Union train, a journey during which Markus sometimes took the bread ration to an ailing AnnaAkhmatova. Wolf was sent by the Party to the Comintern school to prepare for the liberation of Germany, then back to Moscow, where he worked for the German-language radio service and first met future ...

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