Intimations: Selected Poems By Anna Akhmatova

2009. Translated by James E. Falen. Edited and with introductory essay by Kevin M. F. Platt. 176 pages. Softcover.

ANNA AKHMATOVA (1889-1966) was a skilled love poet who, through no choice of her own, became a witness to mass violence, a widely recognized exemplar of endurance and moral strength, and finally a symbol of Russian national resilience. At the start of her career in the last years of the Russian Empire Akhmatova was a cultural celebrity, who fascinated a generation not only with her poetry but also with the drama that she created around herself. In light of the intensely public nature of Akhmatova’s poetic persona, it is all the more tragic that following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 she was attacked as a decadent, bourgeois author and driven into silence and obscurity. Living in relative poverty; her husband, son and friends repeatedly arrested and harassed; she herself publicly cursed by the representatives of the state—somehow Akhmatova managed to survive the darkest decades of Soviet history. Remarkably, she preserved her immense dignity and unique voice. At the end of her life in the 1950s and 1960s when timorous cultural bureaucrats allowed her to reemerge as a public figure, she revealed to readers that even if the “collective” had rejected her as an unworthy member, she had continued to write poetry reflecting the trials and calamities of Soviet men and women with greater truth and moral authority than any official poet could attain.

The present collection presents new translations of a broad overview of Akhmatova’s works from the earlier portion of her career, plus a more constrained selection of poems from later years.

JAMES FALEN is Professor Emeritus of Russian at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of Isaac Babel: Russian Master of the Short Story and has translated for Oxford University Press Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin as well as Boris Godunov and Other Dramatic Works. His translation of selected lyric poetry by Pushkin is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in the fall of 2009.

KEVIN M. F. PLATT teaches Russian and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarship focuses on Russian history and culture, with particular interest in poetry and poetics. He is the author most recently of Terror and Greatness: Ivan IV and Peter I as Russian Myths (forthcoming from Cornell University Press in 2010) and co-editor (with David Brandenberger) of Epic Revisionism: Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda (University of Wisconsin, 2006).



Sample Spreads