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Early samizdat version of “Rekviem” (Requiem) with variant passages.

Soviet Union, ca. December 1962–1963. Six leaves of typescript to rectos (A4). Old horizontal creases; else very good.

Six-page typewritten copy of Akhmatova’s “Requiem,” formerly owned by the family of Soviet scientist Vladimir Fok (1898–1974) and his wife Alexandra Lermontova, Akhmatova’s neighbours in the suburban town of Komarovo. Included with the typescript is a recent hand-written letter detailing the provenance and pinpointing the date of creation to the years 1958–1961. This range seems unlikely, given that the first known typewritten version was produced by Akhmatova’s secretary in the poet’s presence in early December of 1962. Moreover, the present text includes the verse “Eto bylo, kogda ulybalsia,” which was first included in the poem when it was first written down in 1962 (see Lidiia Chukovskaya’s memoirs).

Nevertheless, these leaves contain an early copy of Akhmatova’s poem, likely produced sometime between December 1962 and the mid-1960s. The text also evinces a number of small differences vis-àvis the canonic 1963 text, as well as later revised editions. Notably, the first part features the dedication to “my husband and friend” (“Posviashchaetsia muzhu i drugu”), which is missing in all other editions of the poem. Furthermore, the last line of the fifth stanza features more daring phrasing than the canonical text, which appears to be unknown: “И скорой гибелью грозит чекистская звезда” rather than “И скорой гибелью грозит огромная звезда.”

Later samizdat versions were usually based on the 1963 edition and featured few to no variant passages. They were often bound and contained other texts; this loose-leaf version would have been easier to pass on at a time when both the copying and the possession of the work entailed serious legal risks. An important document of the early reception of “Requiem” in the Soviet Union.

Book ID: 50364

Price: $1,250.00