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30 June 2015


Nadezhda Mandelstam (1899-1980) married the poet Osip Mandelstam in 1922. ‘After his arrest and death in 1938 she saved his poetry by committing it all to memory, and saved herself by fleeing to the remote eastern regions of Russia. She was allowed to return to Moscow in 1956 and fought to get Osip’s work back into print. In the late 1960’s Mandelstam had her two monumental volumes of memoirs (unpublishable in the USSR) smuggled into the west, where they appeared as Hope Against Hope (1970) and Hope Abandoned (1974); together they offer a unique look at life among the Russian intelligentsia under Stalin and beyond. In her last years she was revered by Russian writers, who made endless pilgrimages to her one-room Moscow apartment.’ This photograph is here. Clive James wrote eloquently about Nadezhda Mandelstam here (‘Hope Against Hope puts her at the centre of the liberal resistance under the Soviet Union and indeed at the centre of the whole of 20th-­century literary and political history’) as he did about Anna Akhmatova here.

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