The Fate of the Arts   /   Summer 2004   /    Articles

A Mirror or a Lamp?

Adam Zagajewski

Historians of culture should study this case: an entire current of Russian poetry, the Acmeist school, which claimed the right to artistic freedom and to the joy of embracing the entire Western tradition of art, had been destroyed physically and politically in the thirties, and its shadow was now poised as if waiting to see whether some young, red- haired poet would deign to revive it lovingly—or, if not, whether it would remain silent forever, buried in the secret archives of the secret police. Yes, Anna Akhmatova was alive and writing, but it is one thing to have one remaining author still active and quite another to see the hearts and minds of younger writers warm up and open to the forbidden past.

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