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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

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

Joshua Kotin

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691196541.003.0005

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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