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Forking paths and other dramas: Postmodernist features of Anna Achmatova's “Menja, kak reku”

Authors
Journal
Russian Literature
0304-3479
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
59
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.ruslit.2006.01.003
Keywords
  • Achmatova
  • Menja
  • Kak Reku
  • Postmodernism

Abstract

Abstract This article focuses on some of the central issues raised by Achmatova's later work — including her unconventional use of the poetic persona — through the prism of her well-known elegy “Menja, kak reku”. This lyric can be seen to manifest a peculiarly postmodernist sensibility when viewed in the light of certain theoretical constructions of postmodernism. The argument draws on the work of the American theorist Brian McHale, who finds that postmodernist writing is characterised by a concern with ontology, in that it offers imaginative constructions of different possible worlds and thus confronts out world with other worlds that lie adjacent or parallel to it. This model of postmodernism aids and interpretation of Achmatova's elegy, in which she meditates on historical disjunction and writes her own alternate-world story by exploring the memory of that which has not happened. This understanding of “Menja, kak reku” in turn sheds light on Achmatova's later period more generally: the projection of different orders of being is a prevalent device, closely related to Achmatova's sense of living a “posthumous” existence.

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