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Every Slightest Pebble

Clarence Brown, 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 Akhmatova: Poet 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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... from this thoroughly unreliable, disgracefully edited version. The compendious biography by Roberta Reeder is rather more compendium than biography, if the latter is taken to denote a form of art. Readers seeking the facts of Akhmatova’s life will be able to locate them here, but the method of the book, the relentlessly cumulative stitching ...

Anna of All the Russias

John Bayley, 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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... If he had been writing in Petersburg in 1910 or thereabouts Philip Larkin would probably have been an Acmeist. He would have been in protest, that is to say, against the portentousness of the Symbolists, like Blok and Bely, against their bogus pleasure in the idea of Apocalypse, and their bogus parade of the mysterious and the ‘unknowable’. In his essay ‘The Pleasure Principle’ Larkin observes that ‘it is sometimes useful to remind ourselves of the simpler aspects of things normally regarded as complicated,’ such as the writing of a poem ...

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