By Clare Cavanagh
If modernism marked, as a few critics declare, an "apocalypse of cultural community," then Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) needs to rank between its so much consultant figures. Born to valuable eu Jews in Warsaw at the cusp of the trendy age, he might declare neither Russian nor eu traditions as his birthright. Describing the poetic stream he helped to chanced on, Acmeism, as a "yearning for international culture," he outlined the impulse that fees his personal poetry and prose. Clare Cavanagh has written a sustained examine putting Mandelstam's "remembrance and invention" of a usable poetic prior within the context of modernist writing normally, with specific consciousness to the paintings of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Cavanagh lines Mandelstam's production of culture from his earliest lyrics to his final verses, written presently prior to his arrest and next dying in a Stalinist camp. Her paintings exhibits how the poet, generalizing from his personal dilemmas and disruptions, addressed his epoch's paradoxical legacy of disinheritance--and how he spoke back to this unwelcome legacy with considered one of modernism's most complicated, bold, and hard visions of culture. Drawing on not just Russian and Western modernist writing and thought, but in addition smooth ecu Jewish tradition, Russian non secular proposal, postrevolutionary politics, or even silent movie, Cavanagh lines Mandelstam's restoration of a "world tradition" important, immense, and sundry sufficient to fulfill the needs of the imperative outcast modernist.
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Publish yr notice: First released 1992
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Extra info for Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition
The possibilities of the modern age are inextricably bound to its problems, and even the most gifted, ambitious poet-synthesizer might falter before the task of transforming the age’s hodgepodge of places, people, dates, and artifacts into a cohesive culture. How is the poet-synthesist to proceed if what he seeks is not fragments from a vanished past but a new kind of living whole, not complete liberation from history but creative dialogue with it? What culture can accommodate both history and simultaneous order?
Homer now falls still, And the black sea rumbles, orating, And with a heavy crash, draws up beside the bed. Mandelstam’s brief lyric, like Pound’s first Canto, evokes both the presence of the past and its pastness, as the events described in Homer’s writings converge with and diverge from the experience of the modernist poet-synthesizer who works to recuperate an ancient history for the modern age. Mandelstam’s poem moves from mediation—in the poem’s opening stanza he contemplates the Iliad’s famous catalog of ships—to immediacy, when, in its final lines, Homer’s wine-dark sea sweeps up along the poet’s bedside.
Only the outsider, unconstrained by national boundaries, can hope to see Europe whole. And only the outsider can lay claim to all of its treasures, past and present, by becoming a true European—or so Eliot implies. In The Sacred Wood, Eliot laments the American “remoteness in space from the European centre,” but this very remoteness may also generate the “tendency to seek the centre” that permits the foreigner to become not a born, but a self-made, European. Mandelstam was very much aware that the new arrival who comes to Europe seeking unity ends by inventing his own West.
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