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In the second volume of her autobiography, this book describes the life of Nadezhda and her husband Osip Mandelstam, providing an interpretive background for his poetry. The book also describes some distinguished contemporaries, including Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak and Nikolai Bukharin.
little buckwheat laid before us on a plank or suitcase— whatever served as a table—we considered a feast. The fate of St. Alexis * really did seem more enviable to him than that of any banker, dignitary, or Soviet specialist + (particularly of the literary species)___ In Kharkov he made his first literary earnings—much more con siderable ones than in Rostov, because here there was not only a newspaper but a publishing house, albeit as poverty-stricken as every thing else in the country. It was
life in Moscow than it would have been in his native, but now ravaged Petersburg. Even if Moscow too was ravaged—and very considerably—it was not in the same way as Petersburg. It was also much less noticeable: Moscow was constantly replenished by an influx of new people, and we could see it growing visibly, almost by the hour—though this growth was not expressed in new houses and buildings (nothing was being built at all; everything was crumbling and falling apart), only in the ever increasing
years, but was it really worth all that trouble? 82 Hope Abandoned We learned about another of Briusov’s little tricks from someone who served with him on the committee for the allotment of academic rations.* After our return from Georgia, those two woebegone, kindhearted, old Marxist fuddy-duddies, Kogan and Fritsche, raised the question of giving M. an academic ration. This was just before the beginning of NEP, or during the very first days, when two or three fantastically expensive stores
skeletons in their arms. I once saw a child with meningitis, and this was just how these children from the Volga looked. I have been haunted down the years by this kind of sight: a mother dying from hunger with a child still alive, or a mother just barely still alive with a dying child; famine in the Volga region, famine in the Ukraine, the famine caused by col lectivization, and the famine caused by war—all compounded by chronic malnutrition. One of these women I remember with blind ing
in the worst period of the terror, but earlier: in the years be tween the end of the Civil War and collectivization, when fond hopes were still entertained of returning to a normal human existence. This was the period when people were quite extraordinarily deaf and insensitive. I am judging not by myself—I was then as silly and light-headed as anyone of my age and sex—but by what I saw around me: the universal poverty of thought and feeling. People of strong character, like M. and Akhmatova,