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Poet vs. poetess:Feminine images in the poetry of Anna Akhmatova.

Mills, Sally Newcomb; (1999) Poet vs. poetess:Feminine images in the poetry of Anna Akhmatova. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Somehow, Anna Akhmatova was able to portray herself not only as an individual poet writing deeply personal lyrics, but also as a self-appointed symbol of Russia. The reason why the reader so readily accepts Akhmatova in this way is because she adopted a poetic persona which corresponds, not only to archetypal associations of women, but also to images of women specific to Russian culture. Rather than portray her poetic persona as an active, creative poet-figure, Akhmatova's early persona is often portrayed as conspicuously silent or powerless when confronted with the articulate hero. This portrayal is one manifestation of the fact that the two most influential movements in terms of Akhmatova's poetic career—Symbolism and Acmeism/Adamism—adopted imagery which was manifestly inappropriate for Akhmatova as a woman poet. The persona's silence is, at least in part, a reaction to the general tendency to view women as handmaidens or means of transcendence for the male poet as opposed to poet figures in their own right. In this context, this thesis will consider two approaches which Akhmatova adopted, if only to a limited extent, to portray her persona as an active poet figure. First, in a limited number of poems, Akhmatova simply adopts a male speaker. Secondly, in some poems, she develops what might be described as an 'eternal masculine' figure. Perhaps surprisingly, however, Akhmatova rejected the straightforward image of the poet as 'mother' to the poem (or even as a maternal figure in terms of individual children), though such images were readily available to her. This thesis will also consider the unusual, detached perspective which Akhmatova's persona assumes in many poems. It will explore the sense of Akhmatova's persona as intuitive and sensitive to the forces of nature and, at times, to the will of God. Finally, it will link these approaches to the tradition of 'women's language' in Russian culture. This thesis will look at one of the most interesting manifestations of the unusual perspective with which Akhmatova invests her persona - that of the persona as object of art as opposed to artist. It will also consider Akhmatova's complex use of 'doubles' and muses in this context. The authoritative, matriarchal persona of Reh'iem did not emerge in a vacuum. She is the culmination of Akhmatova's selective choice of feminine images and approaches throughout her early career.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Poet vs. poetess:Feminine images in the poetry of Anna Akhmatova.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103327
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