A Coat of Many Colors: Osip Mandelstam and His Mythologies by Gregory Freidin

By Gregory Freidin

For the key poets of Osip Mandelstam's new release, poetry represented a calling within the so much tangible feel. to reply to it intended to model from the to be had cultural and private fabric a mythic self, person who might serve either because the organizing topic for poetry and as an item of worshipful adoration. A profitable poet like Mandelstam therefore grew to become the point of interest of a posh cultural phenomenon-perhaps a charismatic cult-that formed his writings, gesture, and reception.

Gregory Freidin examines Mandelstam's legacy during this broader context and lays the basis for coming near near modernist Russian poetry as a charismatic establishment. He lines the interaction of poetic culture, own heritage, historic occasions, spiritual tradition, and political advancements as they entered the symbolic order of Mandelstam's paintings and helped ensure its outlines within the reader's mind's eye. Many very important points of the Mandelstam phenomenon, together with the Jewish subject, the that means of the poet's Christianity, his political stand, and, particularly, his clash with Stalin and Stalinism, obtain right here a brand new interpretation.

A case research within the emergence of a literary cult, A Coat of many colours finds how Russian poetry of the early 20th century functioned as a charismatic establishment of a exceedingly glossy style. those that belonged to it mixed wisdom of the new experiences in fantasy, magic, and faith with the cultivation of verbal magic, mythic awareness, and unorthodox spiritual ideals. Following Mandelstam's profession over its complete span (1908-1938), Freidin exhibits how the poet benefited from literary scholarship, comparative mythology, the heritage and sociology of faith whilst he used to be emulating in his poetry the very topic of those educational disciplines. To account for this duality in examining Mandelstam's writings, Freidin attracts on explanatory paradigms of up to date human sciences, from Saussure and the Formalists to Weber, Durkheim, Freud, and Marcel Mauss.

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An incident involving Valerii Briusov and Nikolai Gumilev, who at the time considered himself to be in Briusov's orbit, is even more instructive. Believing that he had the younger generation on his side, 130 Briusov must have been quite surprised to receive an endorsement of Blok's speech from his disciple Nikolai Gumilev. 132 And even if the style that the Acmeists, particularly Gumilev and Mandelstam, would later advocate was relatively sober and better "balanced" between this and the other mysterious world, the two were never prepared to give up the global claims for poetry that bore a recognizable imprint of Ivanov's old program.

THOMAS MANN, Magic Mountain The first readers of the first Stone (1913) must have been surprised when they opened the book to discover on page one a poem with a pointedly ephemeral title, "Breathing" (1909). It read: < previous page page_34 next page > < previous page page_35 next page > Page 35 A body is given mewhat shall I do with it, So whole and so mine? For the quiet joy of breathing and living, Whom, tell me, should I thank? I am both a gardener and a flower I am, too; In the prison of the world, I am not alone.

For these were not altogether "mute" years. Both his autobiographical prose, The Noise of Time (1925), and his novella The Egyptian Stamp (1928) were events in modern Russian literature, even if they were marked by self-mockery on the part of the once loftily charismatic poet. For Mandelstam, as for < previous page page_30 next page > < previous page page_31 next page > Page 31 other poets of his generation, this period between 1924 and 1929 was a time of changing landmarks. The perplexing Russian society of the New Economic Policy (NEP), with its conflicting value systems, the difficulty of earning a living by literary free-lancing, and, finally, the appearance of a new generation of readers and writers with different expectations and tastes greatly attenuated the "centrality" of poetry.

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