Rightly appreciated as a 'poet's poet', Mandelstam has been habitually read as a repository of learned allusion. Yet as Seamus Heaney observed, his work is 'as firmly rooted in both an historical and cultural context as real as Joyce's Ulysses or Eliot's Waste Land.' Great lyric poets offer a cross-section of their times, and Mandelstam's poems represent the worlds of politics, history, art, and ideas about intimacy and creativity. The interconnections between these domains and Mandelstam's writings are the subject of this book, showing how engaged the poet was with the history, social movements, political ideology, and aesthetics of his time. The importance of the book also lies in showing how literature, no less than history and philosophy, enables readers to confront the huge upheaval in outlook can demand of us; thinking with poetry is to think through the moral compromise and tension felt by individuals in public and private contexts, and to create out of art experience in itself. The book further innovates by integrating a new, comprehensive discussion of the Voronezh Notebooks, one of the supreme achievements of Russian poetry. This book considers the full political dimension of works that explore the role of the poet as a figure positioned within society but outside the state, caught between an ideal of creative independence and a devotion to the original, ameliorative ideals of the revolution.
Andrew Kahn, Professor of Russian Literature, University of Oxford, Fellow and Tutor, St Edmund Hall, Oxford Andrew Kahn is Professor of Russian Literature, University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He was educated in the USA and UK and has degrees in Classical History and Literature as well as in Slavonic Languages and Literatures. He writes mainly about Russian literature andhistory of ideas of the eighteenth century and the poetic traditions. He has been visiting professor at Berkeley, Columbia, and the Ecole Normale Superieure, rue d'Ulm, and has given invited lectures at Cambridge, Columbia, University of Colorado (Boulder), Yale University, and Harvard University.He is a Fellow of the British Academy.