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Soviet Samizdat

Rekviem (1935-1940) [Requiem].

Soviet Union, 1970-1980s. Octavo (22 × 15.5 cm). Original paper-covered boards, with original drawn label affixed to front board; 19 leaves of typescript to rectos. Very good.

Typewritten samizdat edition (first copy) of Akhmatova’s “Requiem.” LIke most samizdat versions of the narrative poem, the present edition is based on the 1963 edition and appears to be in full accordance with this text, containing no variant passages. The text is appended with a short biography of Akhmatova, apparently taken from the 1962 collected works published in the United States by Gleb Struve.

During World War II, Akhmatova's poetry experienced a brief revival, after being banned between 1922-1940 for its ostensibly decadent, socially irrelevant character. Famously, she also became the voice of besieged Leningrad after appearing in special radio broadcasts during the German Blockade of 1941-1944. However, this rehabilitation saw a swift end in 1946, when Party functionary Andrei Zhdanov singled out Akhmatova's and Zoshchenko's publications in the journals 'Leningrad' and 'Zvezda': "A Leningrad journal has opened wide its pages to Akhmatova and given her full freedom to poison the minds of our youth with the pernicious spirit of her poetry" (in Poems of Akhmatova, ed. Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward, p. 23). This report led to her expulsion from the Writers' Union and to unabated harassment by secret police. Akhmatova was unable to publish until the late Thaw period, with a selection of poems appearing in print in 1958.

The word samizdat (from Russian "sam", self, and "izdat'", to publish) refers to the illicit copying of banned texts in the Soviet Union and its satellite states, most often using a typewriter or mimeograph machine. Aside from the technical difficulties, this was doubly dangerous: many works of literature or political writings were banned by the state, but even the means of duplication were subject to confiscation. In many cases, the creation and distribution of samizdat led to prison terms.

Book ID: 50991

Price: $450.00