The Voronezh Notebooks: Poems 1935-1937

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Bloodaxe, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 126 pages
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"Nearly comatose after the horrors of repeated interrogations by Stalin's regime, Mandelstam (1891-1938) literally wrote himself back into a semblance of life while exiled 300 miles from Moscow in Voronezh....Mandelstam presents visions of the future, his own and his country's, that are steeped in necessarily coded foreboding. It is a great gift to be able to read these ninety poems together and complete in English for the first time, with explanatory notes provided for each. They form a wrenching diary of 'iron tenderness' and doomed, penetrative brilliance". -- Publishers Weekly. Childish and wise, joyous and angry, at once complex and simple, he was sustained for twenty years by his wife and memoirist Nadezhda Mandelstam, who became, with Anna Akhmatova, the savior of his poetry. After his exile to Voronezh and his sentencing to hard labor for counter-revolutionary activities, he died of 'heart failure' in the winter of 1938 in Siberia.

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Translators Preface by RICHARD McKANE
Introduction by VICTOR KRIVULIN

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About the author (1996)

Osip Mandelstam was born in Warsaw, Poland and grew up in St.Petersburg, Russia Mandelstam was taught by tutors and governesses at his home. He attended the prestigious Tenishev School from 1900 to 1907 and traveled then to Paris from 1907 to 1908 and Germany from 1908 to 1910, where he studied Old French literature at the University of Heidelberg. In 1911 till 1917, he studied philosophy at St. Petersburg University but did not graduate. Mandelstam was a member of the 'Poets Guild' from 1911 and had close personal ties with Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilev. His first poems appeared in 1910 in the journal Apollon. In 1918 he worked briefly for Anatoly Lunacharskii's Education Ministry in Moskow. In the 1920s Mandelstam supported himself by writing children's books and translating works by Upton Sinclair, Jules Romains, Charles de Coster and others. He did not compose poems from 1925 to 1930 but turned to prose. In 1930 he made a trip to Armenia to escape his influential enemies. Mandelstam's Journey to Armenia (1933) became his last major work published during his life time. Mandelstam was arrested the first time in 1934 for an epigram he had written on Joseph Stalin. In the transit camp, Mandelstam was already so weak that he couldn't stand. He died in the Gulag Archipelago in Vtoraia rechka, near Vladivostok, on December 27, 1938.His body was taken to a common grave. International fame came to Mandelstam in the 1970s, when his works were published in the West and in the Soviet Union.

Richard McKane is a poet and translator of poetry from Russian and Turkish. He lives and works in London.

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