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Hope Against Hope


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'The witnesses to living on an edge under the tyrant are now many; none, not even Solzhenitsyn, has written better' - Doris Lessing

About the Author

Nadezhda Yakovlevna Mandelstam was born in Saratov in 1899, but spent her early life in Kiev, studying art and travelling widely in Western Europe. She learned English, French and German fluently enough to undertake extensive translation work, which supported her in the hard years ahead. She met the poet Osip Mandelstam in Kiev in 1919, and they married in 1922. From then until Osip's death, her life was so inextricably linked with her husband's that without her extraordinary courage and fortitude most of his work would have died with him. She spent the Second World War in Tashkent, teaching English and sharing a house with her close friend the poet Anna Akhmatova. After the war she led an inconspicuous existence as a teacher of English in remote provincial towns. In 1964 she was granted permission to return to Moscow, where she began to write her memoir of the life she had shared with one of the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century, and where she continued to preserve his works and his memory in the face of official disapproval. Nadezhda means 'hope' in Russian, and she herself chose the English titles for her two-volume memoirs. She died in 1980.


"No other work conveys as well the atmosphere of the 1930s terror, nor how Russian people survived it by listening to their great poets" -- Orlando Figes * The Week *
"A superb memoir... A reminder that it is only a genuine work of art which is capable of communicating a reality so appalling as the Stalinist terror" * Philip Toynbee *
"Not only a vivid account of persecution during Stalin's terror, it is also one of the few convincing descriptions of how a genius writes poetry" -- A. Alvarez
"A Day of Judgement on earth for her age and its literature" -- Joseph Brodsky
"Surely the most luminous account we have- or are likely to get- of life in the Soviet Union during the purges of the 1930's" * New York Review of Books *

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