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Russian Literature of Anna Akhmatova

Russian Literature of Anna Akhmatova

During Joseph Stalin’s rule in Russia, many voices were silenced. If there was a piece of literature, news, or other such document that Stalin did not view appropriate to publish, it was not published. Stalin ran a totalitarian government in which he oversaw all public affairs. Since he had final say as to what the public was exposed to, nothing negative regarding him was published. Stalin also imprisoned many people for speaking out against him. He also sentenced several millions to death. One of those who Stalin attempted to silence during his reign was Anna Akhmatova.

Anna Akhmatova was born Anna Andreevna Gorenko. She married and had a son, Lev Gumilyov. He was one of the men that Stalin imprisoned in an attempt to silence Akhmatova. He was imprisoned for seventeen months as an attempt to force Akhmatova to write only pro-Stalin poetry (Magill 1810). While Anna Akhmatova was waiting to visit her son in prison, she would wait in line for hours with other mothers, wives, and sisters outside the prison walls. She also started to write poems that symbolized the struggle of the Russian people and the injustices they faced. She refused to give into Stalin’s demands, and these poems were a symbol of her determination. The poems are put together in Requiem which is associated with a Catholic funeral service.

There are several basic themes and meanings found within Requiem. The first is the idea that Akhmatova was protesting official injustices (Magill 1812). She wanted to be a voice for all the women she waited with who could not speak without her. She never made her contempt for Stalin a secret. “Requiem recounts the suffering of the Russian people under Stalinism- more specifically the women with whom Akhmatova stood in line outside the walls of the prison where her son was” (dybka.home.mindspring.com).

Religion is another theme found in the poems, although not as discussed by the critics. Akhmatova related her stories to those of Mary and Jesus. Like Mary, Akhmatova was forced to watch her son suffer for the people. She “uses religious language for different purpose seeing it through Mary’s eyes” (Stine 27). Mary watched her son suffer as he carried the cross. Similarly, Akhmatova suffered by waiting for her son to be brought out of the prison.

The poem Requiem is broken down into several parts. Each part represents...

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