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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an early 20th-century movement in Russian poetry which evolved because of the crisis of bourgeois culture and expressed a decadent world view.

Acmeism arose as a reaction to symbolism. The representatives of acmeism, who united in the Poets’ Guild and published in the journal Apollon (1909–17), fought against the withdrawal of poetry into “other worlds” and the “unknowable,” as well as ambiguous and fluctuating poetic images. Even though they declared their preference for real, earthly life and called for the return of poetry to the forces of nature, the acmeists perceived life as being outside of society and history; man was excluded from the reality of society. The acmeists juxtaposed an esthete’s admiration for the trifles of life with social conflicts. Their poetry deals with things (for example, the work of M. Kuzmin), with the objective world, and with images of past culture and history (O. Mandel’shtam, in the collection Stone, 1913) and poetizes the biological origins of being (especially the works of M. Zenkevich and V. Narbut).

Inherent in N. Gumilev’s early poetry was an apologia for “the powerful personality” and “primordial” feelings which limited him to a consciousness that was antidemocratic and individualistic.

In the years after the revolution the Poets’ Guild ceased to exist as a literary school. As early as 1915 the most famous acmeists had transcended the limits of their manifestos; the works of A. Akhmatova, O. Mandel’shtam, N. Gumilev and, in part, M. Kuzmin developed individual destinies.


Blok, A. “Bez bozhestva, bez vdokhnoven’ia.” Sobr. soch., vol. 6. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
[Manifesty akmeistov.] Apollon, 1913, no. 1.
Kuzmin, M. “O prekrasnoi iasnosti.” Apollon, 1910, no. 1.
Mikhailovskii, B. Russkaia literatura 20 v. Moscow, 1939.
Volkov, A. Ocherki russkoi literatury kontsa 19 i nachala 20 vv. Moscow, 1955.
Orlov, V. “Na rubezhe dvukh epokh.” Voprosy literatury, 1966, no. 10.
Zhirmunskii, V. “O tvorchestve Anny Akhmatovoi.” Novyi mir, 1969, no. 6.
Istoriia russkoi poezii, vol. 2. Leningrad, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Rusinko focuses on Mandelstam's revision of symbolist principles--which were primarily derivative of Nietzsche's fascination with Dionysus--in adherence to Nietzsche's Apollonian pole; she argues that acmeism "contributed an original interpretation of Nietzsche that emphasized the Apollonian principle over the Dionysian in style and philosophy." (1) This view of acmeism as an alternative to the Dionysian unruliness and madness of the symbolists has become mainstream among scholars of Russian literature from the Modernist period.
Why tempered modernism should have apparently produced so little lasting impact in French literature, however, is, strangely, a question that is not addressed, any more than why Acmeism and Imagism should have emerged more or less simultaneously but without any tangible contact between the two movements.
If Symbolism, Futurism and Acmeism were better off with a NEP or a Five-Year Plan?
It has already lasted far longer as a structured group than any other in the history of French (or indeed, European) literature: romanticism, realism, naturalism, Parnassianism, symbolism, acmeism, futurism, vorticism, surrealism, structuralism, telquellism--all such "doctrines" and chapels rose and fell within the span of a decade or two, and often far less.
The essays in Part I ('Nietzsche and the Prerevolutionary Roots of Soviet Culture') discuss early Maiakovskii (Bengt Jangfeldt), Khlebnikov (Henryk Baran), Acmeism (Elaine Rusinko) and Russian occultists (Maria Carlson).
These and other early poems show the influence of Acmeism in their use of concrete images, pictorial detail, and semantic precision.
It is at least arguable that during the period from the mid-1890s to 1917 it was the ascendant, perhaps even the dominant tradition, certainly in poetry, since Acmeism and Futurism and even Imaginism were, however overtly hostile, clearly its offshoots.
Acmeism, Futurism, and other movements flourished and then were silenced by the stalin era.
Akhmadulina's simple, direct, introspective style owes much to the tradition of Acmeism and to Tsvetayevna and Pasternak; one of her best - known long poems is Moya rodoslovnaya ( My Genealogy, 1964), whose theme derives from Pushkin ' s poem of the same name.
Scholars who study these connections are able to uncover significant aesthetic overlaps between Anglo-American, French, German, and Russian avant-garde movements such as Imagism, Acmeism, Symbolism, Futurism, Vorticism, Constructivism and others (Painter 3).
The length of individual poems tends toward longer rather than shorter, and poetic influences are eclectic, ranging from surrealism and dadaism to Russian acmeism and American confessionalism.
Michael Basker reviews the transformation of Symbolist devils by Acmeism, in particular showing the demonic nature of Gumilev as the absent hero of Akhmatova's Poem without a Hero.