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The increasing availability of Osip Mandel’štam’s work in the West has awakened widespread interest among scholars.
In this study of Mandel’štam’s poetry of the period from 1913 to 1923, momentous years in Russian history and in the artistic career of the poet, Steven Broyde analyzes in careful detail a number of the poems written during that decade in an effort to discover Mandel’štam’s persistent themes and characteristic poetic method. In doing so, he has provided a needed framework for the poetry, glossing a number of obscure verses and offering helpful suggestions for the elucidation of others.
Certain poems of this period are especially fruitful for investigation because they are uniformly judged to be among Mandel’štam’s masterpieces. Broyde reveals that these special statements were part of a series of complicated poetic responses Mandel’štam made to the historical events of his time. Contrary to the widely accepted view that the Russian poet was indifferent to the events about him, Mandel’štam continuously confronted contemporary reality in an effort to discover the possibilities of art.