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Hope Abandoned


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'Mrs Mandelstam's bitter reminiscences read like unvarnished reality itself... her descriptions of events and circumstances and situations carry total conviction. In this respect the work seems to me literally unique' - Isiah Berlin

About the Author

Nadezdha Yakovlevna Mandelstam was born in Saratov in 1899, but spent her early life in Kiev, studying art and travelling widely with her family. She learnt English, French and German fluently enough to be able to take on extensive translation work, which at a later period allowed her and her husband to survive. She met the poet Osip Mandelstam in Kiev in 1919, and they were married in 1922. From that point on until Mandelstam's death in 1938, her life was so closely bound up with her husband's that without her quite extraordinary courage and memory and will, a great part of his work would have died with him. She spent much of the Second World War in Tashkent, teaching English at the University of Central Asia and sharing a house for part of that time with her friend Anna Akhmatova. After the war she managed to survive by leading an inconspicuous existence as a teacher of English in remote provincial towns. In 1964 she was at last granted permission to reutrn to Moscow, where she began to write her memoir of the life she had shared with perhaps the greatest Russian poet of the century, and where she continued her determined attempt to preserve his works and memory against official discouragement. She died in 1980.


Two of the most fortifying books of our times, Nadezhda Mandelstam's Hope against Hope and Hope Abandoned ... were finally written in the late Sixties. In these books, we have a devastating indictment of most of what happened in post-revolutionary Russia -- Seamus Heaney * London Review of Books *
A bursting compendium of glances at people, framed in essays of scorn for the inquisitors and compassion for the victims... If she is vinegarish, she is also powerful and enhancing -- V.S. Pritchett
Describes the whole range of her life with Mandelstam, their travels, vicissitudes and friendships, above all the friendship with Akhmatova... a vivid triple portrait * New Society *
Max Hayward's translation reads easily and seems to me to convey exactly the style and tone in which this great book is written * Daily Telegraph *

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