[E–pub Download] (Воспоминания) AUTHOR Nadezhda Mandelstam

Had to learn and Nadia records how they learned Just about any book I read reminds me of other books I ve read I ve read Milton s Paradise Lost times over the decades than I can remember One of the most intriguing elements of that epic is Milton s description of how Satan learned that he was a fallen angel that he was living in Hell and that he would spend eternity so far removed from Heaven the world he did know as thrice from the utmost pole Certainly he didn t have that knowledge before his revolt as Satan himself claims How could he He Hadn T Yet Sinned And Hell Didn t yet sinned and Hell didn exist and he acuired that knowledgeawareness bit by bit from experience until he discoveredunderstood the import of events and conditions Who knew he says or thinks time after time But I m not so sure that he couldn t foresee conseuences that his ignoranceinnocence was altogether genuine rather than delusional and self exculpatory as Milton suggests in Book 10 or whichever book describes the revolt in Heaven After all Satan s sense of injured merit was the source of his particular sin and whatever consolation he drew from his existence after the fall Here and there I detect expressions of a sense of injured merit in Nadia s memoir And in the last fifty pages or so I was very much surprised to read sentences beginning with Who knew Who knew In 1937 and 1938 Just who do you Nadia Mandelstam think you re kidding besides yourself You ve ust written 350 pages telling us who knew and how you learned But then besides yourself You ve ust written 350 pages telling us who knew and how you learned But then I am certain that the state of things had violated Osip and Nadia s sense of their rightful place in the world and their way of being in the world for so many years that their lives in hiding and on the move was so exhausting and debilitating that finally they were beyond all caring So why not say so if that were the case But no matter I do accept that there are limits even to the awe inspiring and heroic fortitude and emotionalpsychological stamina of persons such as Nadia and Osip Mandelstam even if she could not It makes me thinks that she wasn t a cartoon after all Moved up on the to reread ueue perhaps right after Proust Mandelstam s memoir of her and her husband s life in Soviet Russia between 1934 and 1938 between which times he is twice taken into the Gulag the second time fatally is among the best and most powerful of nonfiction books It is not only a uniue and exceptionally frank personal testament but a work of artNadezhda means hope in Russian which makes the title a wryly ironic pun Mandelstam s wit and resilience are the twin beacons that light this memoir of life in a relentlessly dark time The memoir starts After slapping Alexei Tolstoi in the face M immediately returned to Moscow M is Osip Mandelstam and the book s immersive brilliance Begins With That Startling Sentence with that startling sentence continues throughout In recounting M s subseuent order into exile on which his wife was allowed to accompany him the order included a visit from the secret police to their home M was out The agents seized a bunch of manuscripts not all or even most but the visit was designed to unsettle Mandelstam writes about the visit If M had fallen into the hands of our agents they would have hauled him off together with our manuscripts He was lucky Just as he was also lucky not to survive till the next wave of arrests and die in his bed or a hospital ward in Chukhloma or some other such place he was allowed to live in Like the dramas of family life this was normal and hence could be regarded as happiness To understand this one had to go through a certain schoolingThat certain schooling is what Hope Against Hope provides a way to understand how normal definitions and understandings of life possibility happiness were turned upside downNadezhda Mandelstam is a brilliant aphorist as well Witness Fear and hope are bound up with each other The ordeal by fear is the most terrible there is and people never recover from it Silence is the real crime against humanity Terror and despotism are always short sighted The only good life is one in which there are no need for miracles But poetry is a law to itself it is impossible to bury it alive Mandelstam makes clear that the reign of terror in the Soviet Union began before Stalin though Stalin would perfect it and take it to levels of terror and brutality that defy comprehension which is why books like Hope Against Hope are essential We lived in a world where people were always being hauled in and asked for information about our thoughts and feelings They summoned people who were compromised by their background or by psychological deficiencies threateni. It is Nadezhda Mandelstam's memoir of her life with Osip who was first arrested in 1934 and died in Stalin's Great Purge of 1937 38 Hope Against Hope is a vital eyewitness account of Stalin's Soviet Union and one of the greatest. ВоспоминанияNg one because he was the son Of A Banker Or Czarist Official And a banker or Czarist official and favors or protection to another They summoned people who were afraid of losing their obs or wanted to make a career those who wanted nothing and feared nothing and those who were ready for anything The object of all this was not The History of Provincetown just to gather information Nothing binds people together than complicity in the same crime the people could be implicated and compromised the traitors informants and police spies there were the greater would be the number of people supporting the regime and longing for it to last thousands of years As Mandelstam recounts her husband s struggles to maintain his integrity to find a way to survive to bear witness in poems his wife would memorize in case her efforts to preserve his manuscripts she reveals a truth that the deep evil can and will be defeated but only at a very human and very high cost It is heartbreakingly heroic testimony both daunting and inspiring Utterly heartbreaking An essential witnessAnticipating his arrest M obtained a copy of the Divine Comedy in small format and always had it with him in his pocketust in case he was arrested not at home but in the streetAnd after his death or even before it perhaps he lived on in camp legend as a demented old man of seventy who had once written poetry in the outside world and was therefore nicknamed The Poet And another old man or was it the same one lived in the transit camp of Vtoraya Rechka waiting to be shipped to Kolyma and was thought by many people to be Osip Mandelstam which for all I know he may have been That is all I have been able to find out about the last days illness and death of Mandelstam Others know very much less about the death of their dear ones Only a process that is very beautiful and very terrible could produce this book the anguish of two human souls being tormented by a cruel fiendishly clever and virtually all powerful State determined to murder both the body and soul of its victims Whether we deserve to benefit as readers from the terrible tempering

Endured By The Poet Osip 
by the poet Osip and his widow Nadezhda Mandelstam is a matter that can be easily determined we do not deserve it We are not worthy of the Mandelstams They belong to a very select group of all the human beings who have ever lived most of whom we will never know Thanks to her memoir we do know Nadezhda and OsipIf Osip s great characteristic was his commitment to truth Nadezhda s was her endurance if this sounds dismissive recall that the New Testament repeatedly includes endurance as one of a short list of authentic signs of the divine Spirit Her survival made possible the survival of most of Osip s poetry and of the story of their lives preserved in this uniue memoir Wordsworth defined poetry as emotion recollected in tranuility and this memoir has something deeper than tranuility to it a profound serenity a luminous sadness a fusion of love and truth which is the pivot on which human history revolvesIt is clear from reading this book that Osip was one those described in the 11th chapter of Hebrews as those of whom the world was not worthyWhat better way to understand the industrial scale barbarisms of the twentieth century than to read about how they were observed and interpreted through the sensibilities of great poets and writers Perhaps because of the relative brevity of the Thousand Year Reich we have had far accounts from Hitler s victims than from Lenin and Stalin s victims But the ones that did survive from the Soviet Union Hitler s victims than from Lenin and Stalin s victims But the ones that did survive from the Soviet Union ust HOPE AGAINST HOPE but works by Ginzburg Brodsky and Solzhenitsyn are testaments of the human spirit of the same order as the those written by witnesses to the HolocaustBut the significance of HOPE AGAINST HOPE is not primarily its historical account of the Stalinist system but its depiction of cosmic injustice and the possibility even in the worst circumstances for some kind of ultimate triumph of truth and integrity and decency and loveI doubt that a person picking up this book on a whim will read it through unless without knowing it they have been preparing themselves for years to understand what Osip and Nadezhda have to tell us about ourselves and about the human potential for choosing truth and acting with moral courage That was true for me I bought this book twenty years ago and although I started it a couple of times I have only ust read it after all that time it has been on my shelves Paradoxically although it s a life changing book perhaps one s life has to have already changed or begun to change before one can engage with itCONT D AS COMMENT Testaments to the value of literature and imaginative freedom ever written But it is also a profound inspiration a love story that relates the daily struggle to keep both love and art alive in the most desperate of circumstance. First and foremost M s book is entirely engaging and engrossing memoir Several of its features are most striking and prominent in my mind as I write these commentsNadia is fully present on every page The sort of person she was is fully evident in every paragraph for the most part a strong minded unshakably independent clear sighted uncompromisingly honest observer of her time and place who could not be moved or broken under years of relentless and unremitting repression at the hands of a limitlessly determined of relentless and unremitting repression at the hands of a limitlessly determined consistent regime of state terror the object of which was the annihilation of intellect itself as Osip M had observed A witness as she designates herself whose duty it is to report facts and to make sense of her time And she uses as evidence her experiences as Osip Mandelstam s wife friend devoted to his well being while he lived and later to the preservation of his work with a passionate single minded even obsessive selflessness that I ve never encountered in another human being Now that I ve read the memoirs of Celeste Proust s housekeeper whose last name escapes me at the moment as well as Nadia s I have to admit that such persons are possible There is a bit of arrogance in Nadia however that is absent in Celeste altogether I suppose that she lived in and through a sense of moral superiority to all those who buckled under much less pressure Well OK she earned it with her heart s blood I can خاطرات یک زن توده ای just imagine however the agony of aust a few minutes in her presence spent in what would have been an interrogation that any Stalinist prosecutor could admire only to be dismissed with a sneer as ust another worm So I much prefer to observe her in operation at a very safe remove of distance and decadesShe must have been a person of superhumanly capacious and retentive memory One of the means she used to preserve OM s poetry and prose was to commit to memory nearly the entire content of his body of work She reports events and conversations in startling fullness and clarity of detail I am normally skeptical of any memoir that contains uoted dialogconversation that occurred fifty years before a memoirist records it But in her case I m inclined to believe that words were exchanged exactly as she reports under precisely the circumstances that she describes as contextBut I finished the book wondering whatever did Osip Mandelstam do or write that evoked Stalin s emnity Of course there was his poem of 1933 and 1934 in which OM recorded his response to the deaths of millions during collectivization of agriculture 1929 33 describing Stalin as peasant slayer and murderer That was sufficient provocation But OM had been in trouble or less since 1922 His Stalin poem was among his last infuriating gasps Nadia does write that OM never accepted his times His sense of himself as witness and observing companion to the Soviet people never dimmed and he refused to compromise his sense of duty to state the contents of his mind even if his views circulated in very few manuscript pages among the very few persons who even acknowledged his existence after his first arrest in 1934 Perhaps that s enough especially if Nadia s intent was to testify to the facts of their existence in Stalin s empire as if OM and she might stand for multitudes as if personal particulars don t really matter very much or at all I can accept that perspective but still I wonder What on earth did OM do between 1922 and 193334 No answers Here But Then I Remember But then I remember Nadia s book is memoir and not biography and she writes with a particular purpose that she serves with unualified successI will also say that after reading many volumes of Soviet history and as many biographies of Stalin as seem worth reading nothing that Nadia has written surprises me I didn t read anything in her pages that isn t present or implied in many other books Perhaps all those thousands of pages have acted on me as an anesthetic So in that context I admit that I became impatient from time to time as Nadia reports events as shocking to her at the time when they seem to me to express the normal state of things as in Well of course what s so shocking about any of that A response that makes me think that one of most important aspects of her memoir is its record of her response the response of her husband and the responses of various Soviets of her acuaintance as they were discovering and becoming familiar with adjusting to Stalin s regime as it matured so to speak which after all didn t announce its program of terror to the public in advance or delineate its objectives sources and methods or schedule of activities So they. The story of the poet Osip Mandelstam who suffered continuous persecution under Stalin but whose wife constantly supported both him and his writings until he died in 1938 Hope Against Hope was first published in English in 1970.

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