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Anna Akhmatova

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the poetry of Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) whose work was banned under Stalin and who lived under constant threat of the gulags.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the work, ideas and life of the Russian poet whose work was celebrated in C20th both for its quality and for what it represented, written under censorship in the Stalin years. Her best known poem, Requiem, was written after her son was imprisoned partly as a threat to her and, to avoid punishment for creating it, she passed it on to her supporters to be memorised, line by line, rather than written down. She was a problem for the authorities and became significant internationally, as her work came to symbolise resistance to political tyranny and the preservation of pre-Revolutionary liberal values in the Soviet era.

The image above is based on 'Portrait of Anna Akhmatova' by N.I. Altman, 1914, Moscow


Katharine Hodgson
Professor in Russian at the University of Exeter

Alexandra Harrington
Reader in Russian Studies at Durham University


Michael Basker
Professor of Russian Literature and Dean of Arts at the University of Bristol

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Thu 18 Jan 2018 21:30


Anna Akhmatova – Poetry Foundation

Anna Akhmatova – Wikipedia



Anna Akhmatova (trans. Richard McKane), Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 1989)

Anna Akhmatova (trans. Judith Hemschemeyer, ed. Roberta Reeder), The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova (Canongate, 2000)

Anna Akhmatova (trans. Nancy K. Anderson), The Word That Causes Death’s Defeat: Poems of Memory (Yale University Press, 2004)

Susan Amert, In A Shattered Mirror: The Later Poetry of Anna Akhmatova (Stanford University Press, 1992)

Isaiah Berlin (ed. Henry Hardy), Personal Impressions, (Pimlico, 1998), especially ‘Meetings with Russian Writers in 1945 and 1956’

Joseph Brodsky, Less than One: Selected Essays (Penguin, 1987), especially the essay ‘The Keening Muse’

Lydia Chukovskaya (trans. Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova), The Akhmatova Journals: Volume I, 1938-41 (Harvill, 1994)

Pamela Davidson (ed.), Russian Literature and Its Demons (Berghahn Books, 2000)

Justin Doherty, The Acmeist Movement in Russian Poetry (Oxford University Press, 1994)

Elaine Feinstein, Anna of All the Russias: The Life of Anna Akhmatova (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005)

Nikloay Gumilyov (trans. R. McKane), The Pillar of Fire and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 1999)

Amanda Haight, Anna Akhmatova: A Poetic Pilgrimage (Oxford University Press, 1976)

Alexandra Harrington, The Poetry of Anna Akhmatova: Living in Different Mirrors (Anthem Press, 2006)

Katharine Hodgson, Joanne Shelton and Alexandra Smith (eds.), Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry: Reinventing the Canon (Open Book Publishers, 2017)

Sharon Leiter, Akhmatova’s Petersburg (Cambridge University Press, 1983)

Anatolii Naiman (trans. Wendy Rosslyn), Remembering Anna Akhmatova (Halban, 1991)

Roberta Reeder, Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet (Allison & Busby, 1995)

Wendy Rosslyn, The Prince, The Fool and the Nunnery: A Study of Akhmatova’s Early Verse (Avebury Publishing, 1984)

Wendy Rosslyn (ed.), The Speech of Unknown Eyes: Akhmatova’s Readers on her Poetry, 2 vols (Astra Press, 1990)

David Wells, Anna Akhmatova: Her Poetry (Berg, 1996).


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Alexandra Harrington
Interviewed Guest Michael Basker
Interviewed Guest Katharine Hodgson
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 18 Jan 2018 09:00
  • Thu 18 Jan 2018 21:30

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