Acmeism

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Acmeism

 

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.

REFERENCES

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.

I. S. PRAVDINA