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Nadezhda means "hope" in Russian, and for the wife of one of the greatest Russian poets of the 20th century, Osip Mandelstam, Nadezhda needed to hang on to it for survival. This is the first of two volumes of memoirs, and it is a harrowing account of Nadezhda's last four years with her husband. So she recreates in terse, stripped-to-the-bone sentences the atmosphere of intense paranoia that enveloped Russia's literary intelligentsia. In 1933 Osip had written a lighthearted satire ridiculing Stalin. It proved to be a 16-line death sentence. Nadezhda recalls the night the secret police came for him; "there was a sharp, unbearably explicit knock on the door. 'They've come for Osip,' I said." He was arrested, interrogated, exiled and eventually re-arrested, and Nadezhda chronicles each turn of event describing her feelings of heartbreak and joy with self-effacing discipline. Not only does Mandelstam write with the vitality and insight of the classic Russian novelists, she is far too selfless to write an account of her own travails. Instead, she acts as witness to a society's. Similarly, although Osip's mind became unbalanced by his ordeal in prison, his spirit remained unbroken; it is this liberating, imaginative force that Nadezhda celebrates. - -Lilian PizzichiniReview:
"A superb memoir... A reminder that it is only a genuine work of art which is capable of communicating a reality so appalling as the Stalinist terror" (Philip Toynbee)
"Not only a vivid account of persecution during Stalin's terror, it is also one of the few convincing descriptions of how a genius writes poetry" (A. Alvarez)
"A Day of Judgement on earth for her age and its literature" (Joseph Brodsky)
"Surely the most luminous account we have- or are likely to get- of life in the Soviet Union during the purges of the 1930's" (New York Review of Books)
"The story is so fascinating and terrible, and told with such vitality and insight, that it englarges one's sense of life as well as of death and horror" (Isabel Quigly)
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Book Description Collins & Harvill Press, 1961. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110002625016