Russian Modernist Poetry in English-Language Anthologies of the Twentieth Century

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Modernist poetry is an intense stage in the development of Russian poetry, which builds a bridge between the poetry of the XIX century and that of the XX century. Russian modernist poetry in English-language anthologies has not yet become the subject of analysis. This article is one of the first attempts to narrow the gap. It reviews nine independent publishing projects, which record the poetic experience of modernists in a variety of ways. Almost each of them gives its own list of authors and their hierarchy, and the very concept of “modern Russian poetry” is understood differently in each instance. This selection is not intended to be exhaustive, but it allows us to draw certain conclusions on how the poetry of Russian modernism was introduced to English-speaking countries. Interest in Russian modernist poetry intensified in connection with certain historic events: the Russian Revolution and the first wave of emigration that followed it; World War II and the leading role of the USSR in the victory over fascism; and the 1960s and the “third wave” of emigration. Most of the reviewed anthologies were published during one of these periods. The biographies of the compilers and editors of these anthologies show that the English-speaking reader was introduced to Russian poetry either by emigrant scholars who were born and raised in Russia and who were native speakers of Russian (A. Yarmolinsky, D. Svyatopolk-Mirsky, D. Obolensky, V. Markov), or English and American Russophile enthusiasts who fell in love with the Russian language and literature while traveling around the country (M. Baring, J. Shelley, C.F. Coxwell, M.S. Bowra). Their efforts were so fruitful that they not only opened the world of Russian modernist poetry to English-speaking readers but also made them better acquainted with it than the Russian-speaking audiences, especially given that a lot of poets of the Modernist era were banned in Russia or consigned to oblivion.

About the authors

Ekaterina V. Kuznetsova

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6045-2162

Candidate of Philology, Research Associate

25а Povarskaja St, Moscow, 121069, Russian Federation


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