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Utopias of One$
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Joshua Kotin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196541

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196541.001.0001

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Anna Akhmatova’s Complicity

Anna Akhmatova’s Complicity

(p.71) Chapter Four Anna Akhmatova’s Complicity
Utopias of One

Joshua Kotin

Princeton University Press

This examines Anna Akhmatova's two great late poems Requiem (1935–62) and the famously difficult Poem without a Hero (1940–65). In Requiem, Akhmatova embraces her role as a “world-historical personage.” In a sequence of ten lyrics and various supplementary texts, she challenges Soviet historiography and, as a result, the Soviet Union itself. Requiem, as this chapter shows, is continuous with both the Stalin epigram and Nadezhda Mandel'shtam's memoirs. Meanwhile, Poem without a Hero considers if complicity is always a condition of dissent and if there is a way to oppose totalitarianism without replicating its worldview. The poem attempts to realize a different kind of dissent—one that does not promote Soviet utopianism or the Mandel'shtams' utopian anti-utopianism.

Keywords:   Anna Akhmatova, Requiem, Poem without a Hero, Soviet historiography, complicity, dissent, Soviet utopianism

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