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The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova

by Roberta Reeder, Judith Hemschemeyer, Anna Andreevna Akhmatova

Buy the book: Roberta Reeder. The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova

Release Date: January, 1998

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Roberta Reeder. The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova

Somehow a survivor

Akhmatova was one of the few unrepentant Acemist poets to survive Russia's Bolshevik revolution and subsequant Stalinist takeover and purges. She was seen by authorities as a dangerous element, related to the pre-revolutionary order. Somehow, even as her fellow poets - including friend Osip Mandlestam and husband Nikolay Gumilov - were executed, exiled, sent to camps, or fled, she managed to survive - outliving Stalin himself. Her poems range from the early tales of love and unrequitation, to the tormented later works such as Requium - a harrowing dedication to the victoms of Stalinism. Her use of words is fantastic - the reader can truly feel her presence. This collection is very comprehensive, and well-translted from the original Russian. Definately worth the $21.


The definitive English edition, but sadly no Russian...

For the totally nonRussian speaking English speaker, this is definitely the definitive Akhmatova (...say that ten times fast...). Not only are all her poems here (over 800), but we get a host of other useful things like introductory essays, an essay by Isaiah Berlin, chronology, notes, and tons of beautiful pictures of the beautiful poet herself.

Akhmatova is one of the premier 20th century poets, and it is a shame that her reputation is still only establishing itself among English speaking countries. This volume should help in that regard. However, it must be strongly emphasized that readers who hear Akhmatova only in English are really missing most of the beauty of her poems. Russian poetry is musically beautiful, and this is NOT carried over into the Enlglish, although it must be granted that Hemschemeyer does make some pretty valiant attempts to do just this.

So the reason for the four stars is that there is no Russian in this edition. Granted, the size of it would hardly permit it. So I would ask that people complement it with an edition of Akhmatova's poems in the original, and either learn cyrillic or get someone who can read them to read them to you! You will hardly recognize them, they are so beautiful. She is a master of alliteration, assonance and rhyme... all of these being so important to her lyricism.

I actually bought this edition, and when I found there was no Russian, I returned it and got Hemschemeyer's "Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova" instead, which only has 100+ poems but has the Russian on the opposing pages. It was sad to have to do this, but after I sat down and read through some of the poems, I realized I had made the right decision. What I miss most are the pictures...

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