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Hope Against Hope

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4.37  ·  Rating Details ·  577 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
The story of the poet Osip Mandelstam, who suffered continuous persecution under Stalin, but whose wife constantly supported both him and his writings until he died in 1938. Hope Against Hope was first published in English in 1970. It is Nadezhda Mandelstam's memoir of her life with Osip, who was first arrested in 1934 and died in Stalin's Great Purge of 1937-38. Hope Agai ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 30th 1999 by Modern Library (first published 1970)
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Hadrian
Aug 30, 2011 Hadrian rated it it was amazing
We live, not sensing our own country beneath us,
Ten steps away they dissolve, our speeches,
But where enough meet for half-conversation,
The Kremlin hillbilly is our preoccupation.
They’re like slimy worms, his fat fingers,
His words, as solid as weights of measure.
In his cockroach moustaches there’s a hint
Of laughter, while below his top boots gleam.
Round him a mob of thin-necked henchmen,
He pursues the enslavement of the half-men.
One whimpers, another warbles,
A third miaows, but he alone prods and
...more
Mohammad Ali

کتابی است به شدت خواندنی که در آن هم از شعر و ادبیات سخن رفته، هم از تاریخ و سیاست و فرهنگ - همه ذیل یک زندگی نامه ی شخصی. اصلا نباید فکر کرد که با خاطراتی صرفا شخصی روبروئیم. شیوه ی ورود نادژدا به مطلب و حاشیه رفتن هایش هم بسی خواندنی است. چنانکه خود نادزدا گفته او یک "شاهد"ه و تبعا این کتاب یک شهادت نامه

حاشیه: خیلی عجیبه که روی جلد هیچ اشاره ای به این مطلب نیست که با خاطرات بک فرد روبروئیم. من که بشخصه فکر می کردم کسی در مورد وضعیت روشنفکران اثری نوشته. کار درستی نبوده این پنهانکاری. اما کتاب
...more
Chris Coffman
Aug 09, 2007 Chris Coffman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those exploring the human soul
Only a process that is very beautiful and very terrible could produce this book: the anguish of two human souls being tormented by a cruel, fiendishly clever, and virtually all-powerful State determined to murder both the body and soul of its victims. Whether we deserve to benefit as readers from the terrible tempering endured by the poet Osip Mandelstam and his widow Nadezhda Mandelstam is a matter that can be easily determined: we do not deserve it. We are not worthy of the Mandelstams. They b ...more
Eric
Sep 15, 2007 Eric rated it it was amazing
Utterly heartbreaking. An essential witness.

"Anticipating his arrest M. obtained a copy of the Divine Comedy in small format and always had it with him in his pocket, just in case he was arrested not at home but in the street."


"And after his death--or even before it, perhaps--he lived on in camp legend as a demented old man of seventy who had once written poetry in the outside world and was therefore nicknamed The Poet. And another old man--or was it the same one?--lived in the transit camp of V
...more
Steve
Jun 24, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book (so far). Mandelstam landed in hot water for this poem on Stalin (which is sometimes called the "Kremlin Mountaineer"):

We live, deaf to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away no one hears our speeches,

All we hear is the Kremlin mountaineer,
The murderer and peasant-slayer.

His fingers are fat as grubs
And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips,

His cockroach whiskers leer
And his boot tops gleam.

Around him a rabble of thin-necked leaders -
fawning half-men for him to
...more
Rick
Apr 19, 2015 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Mandelstam’s memoir of her and her husband’s life in Soviet Russia between 1934 and 1938, between which times he is twice taken into the Gulag, the second time fatally, is among the best and most powerful of nonfiction books. It is not only a unique and exceptionally frank personal testament but a work of art.

Nadezhda means “hope” in Russian, which makes the title a wryly ironic pun. Mandelstam’s wit and resilience are the twin beacons that light this memoir of life in a relentlessly dark time.
...more
Geoff
Jan 29, 2010 Geoff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biophilia
Moved up on the "to reread queue", perhaps right after Proust.
Madeline
Jun 15, 2013 Madeline rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Madeline by: Aya
If you are anything like me, you'll start to feel pretty bad about eating while reading Hope Against Hope - even drinking tea starts to feel like you're mocking Mandelstam and her friends. "Look at me, sitting here in my capitalist comfort, my hybrid bourgeois-intelligentsia existence, with the air conditioning on and very little chance of being arrested. How can I stand myself."

So, yeah, it took me a while to get through this. Partly because it's loosely structured, so sometimes it's hard to fo
...more
John
Feb 06, 2013 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
First and foremost, M.'s book is entirely engaging and engrossing memoir. Several of its features are most striking and prominent in my mind as I write these comments.

Nadia is fully present on every page. The sort of person she was is fully evident in every paragraph - for the most part a strong-minded, unshakably independent, clear sighted, uncompromisingly honest observer of her time and place, who could not be moved or broken under years of relentless and unremitting repression at the hands o
...more
Lutzka Zivny
Mar 11, 2013 Lutzka Zivny rated it it was amazing
This book should be the opposite of uplifting. It should leave one devastated and hopeless, yet mysteriously it has the opposite effect.
I would encouraged anyone going through difficult times to read it. I would pretty much encourage anyone to read it. See if I throw the term "life changing experience" around lightly.
Oh, you will also learn tun about poetry and history.

Your image, tormenting and elusive,
I could not touch in the mist.
“God!” I said by mistake,
never thinking to say that myself.

God
...more
Linda
Jul 29, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing
By examining the rise of totalitarianism in Russia, this book answers the question of how a whole society can be controlled and manipulated into blindly accepting the power of their leaders, no matter how corrupt they may be. This book is incredible; a highly recommended, life-changing read.
Ali
Apr 01, 2017 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
ما زندگی میکنیم بیآنکه خاک را زیر پای خود احساس کنیم
آنچه میگوییم ده گام دورتر شنیده نمیشود
و زمانی که میخواهیم دهنهایمان را نیمهباز کنیم
آن ایلیاتی کوهنشین کرملین بازمان میدارد
انگشتان ستبر چونان کرمهای لزج
فرامین لازمالاجرا به وزن چهل پوند
پاکت چرمیاش چون گوسالههای براق
و چشمان سوسکیِ به خنده نشستهاش
گرداگردش جماعتی رئیس گردنباریک
جان نثاریشان ملعبهی دستش
زوزه میکشند، میومیو میکنند و ناله
او یکه و تنها سیخونک میزند و بس
با انگشتان یا با عربدههایش.

شعر فوق را اوسیپ ماندلشتام در وصف استالین سروده و در حضور
...more
Erin Bow
Osip Mandelstam was one of the four great poets of 20th century Russia. I came across him because one of the other poets, Akhmatova, is one of my all-time favorites, and I was told I really could not set about memorizing her Requiem without knowing more about Mandelstam and what happened to him. So piece by piece I found my way to this book, the memoir of his wife and widow, Nadezhda, or Nadia -- whose name means hope.

Though Nadia did other things, and is important in other ways, this is a memo
...more
Claudia Putnam
Dec 07, 2016 Claudia Putnam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, history, biography
The introduction by Joseph Brodsky claims N Mandelstam is not a writer but that you should read this anyway for the content and context. Bullshit. As someone somewhere else has said, this is probably the finest work of dissident writing about the USSR done, Solzhenitsyn included. Sure, it wanders in time and sometimes gets into details about Russian schools of writing that I was less interested in, but that's a thing with Russians and Russian literature (esp the part about the structure).

There
...more
Nick
Oct 19, 2009 Nick rated it it was amazing
Nadezhda Mandelstam was the wife, and later widow, of the poet Osip Mandelstam. He is considered one of the four great poets of twentieth century Russia: Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova, and Marina Tsvetaeva are the others (I think an argument could be made for Andrei Blok). "Hope Against Hope" narrates the Mandelstams' perilous voyage through the punitive bureaucracy of Stalinist Russia: from Moscow to prison to the south and, then, for the poet, to the prison camp where he died. His offense, a ...more
Jennifer
Mar 27, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, library, memoir
This is a stunning memoir, and probably the book that best captures the sinister surrealism of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union. Nadezhda Mandelstam, wife of the blacklisted poet Osip Mandelstam, describes their lives in the four years between when Osip ran afoul of Stalin and when he was finally sent to a labor camp (where he subsequently died). Her writing is beautiful and tragic, a paean of love to her lost spouse and a blistering critique of tyranny. If I could give this more than five ...more
Billie
Jan 15, 2008 Billie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My daughter's name was inspired, in part, by this woman. This book is incredible. The author was the wife of a Russian poet killed during Stalin's regime. Her writings on living in such a bizarre political environment should be, I believe, required reading for all. She captures the crazy mindsets of the leaders, followers and everyone in between.
Edward
Oct 09, 2015 Edward marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Edward by: Kathleen
Introduction, by Clarence Brown
Translator's Preface


--Hope against Hope

Postscript

Appendix:
A. Notes on Persons Mentioned in the Text
B. Note on Literary Movements and Organizations

Index
Deirdre
Mar 25, 2011 Deirdre rated it it was amazing
so intelligent, but simply observed. no hysteria, just life, while stalin's jailers & inquisitors hound her husband Osip Mandelstam, great Russian, anti-Soviet poet to death.
Lee Razer
Mar 10, 2013 Lee Razer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russia, non-fiction
A powerful and insightful window into the first couple of decades of post-revolution Soviet Russia. Nadezhda Mandelstam, educator and widow of Osip Mandelstam, one of Russia's greatest poets of the twentieth century and one of millions of Stalin's victims, wrote this account in the 1960s. It is thanks to her efforts that much of his poetry survived to the present day, but her own literary contribution here towers beside those writings of her husband.

It is a memoir of these two specific people, y
...more
Dana Burda
Jun 29, 2016 Dana Burda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am citit cu sufletul la gura memoriile Nadejdei Mandelstam, sotia poetului rus Osip Mandelstam mort in mod suspect intr-un lagar in timpul marii terori staliniste. Cartea a aparut la prestigioasa editura Polirom in anul 2003 in colectia " Clasicii modernitatii", fiind tradusa impecabil din limba rusa de traducatorul Nicolae Iliescu care a realizat si notele explicative si un excelent indice de nume foarte util pentru a intelege universul la care se refera autoarea in memoriile sale si pentru a p ...more
Barak
Oct 29, 2016 Barak rated it it was amazing
This is the story of the life of Nadia, or rather Nadezhda ("Hope" in Russian) and Osip Mandelstam under Stalin's regime in the 1920' and 30', up until Osip's death at the gulag, before being transferred to Kolyma, postcode east-Siberia.

The main trouble for the couple starts after Osip has published a poem about the “great” leader, in which he compares the latter's moving mustaches to cockroach antennas, his fingers to fat grubs and more. M. read this poem within a limited circle of friends (I w
...more
Edward Waverley
Jul 22, 2013 Edward Waverley marked it as to-read
Shelves: rushdoony
Otto Scott spoke about this book in a taped interview with Rev. RJ Rushdoony:

Nadezhda Mandelstam was the wife of the poet Osip Mandelstam and both of them were interesting people. They were Jewish revolutionaries or Liberals, you might say. Osip was a poet, very well known and she was raised in an upper class well to do family. She was taught in childhood three or four different languages, read the classics. They were both highly literate, very intelligent, ardent for the revolution. And, of cou
...more
Sooz
Apr 26, 2012 Sooz rated it really liked it
as i sit down to try to capture the essence of this book, i find i have no idea where to start ...so .... i will start with the preface written by Joseph Brodsky that is included in ths particular edition. and really? what Brodsky writes feels so true to me and -even before beginning the actual memoir- i feel he has given me great insight into the motivation and direction of Nadia Mandelstram's decision to write her story.

beginning with the idea of poetry preceding prose -within the broader cont
...more
Bob
Jun 29, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christopher
Recommended to Bob by: Martha Walters
Mandelstam, the wife of poet Osip, wrote this memoir in the 1960s, providing a stark and passionate eyewitness account of Stalin's reign of terror and the ugly transformation of Russian society. Her first person account of literary life in Soviet Russia during the 1920s-1950s is filled with renowned figures (like Pasternak, a close friend) and the impossibly harrowing lives of writers and their families during the period, but it also presents both Osip's poetry (and the incredible story of how i ...more
Yvonne
Oct 10, 2012 Yvonne rated it really liked it
I knew nothing about Oslip Mandelstam before reading this book - hadn't even heard of him actually - but found the tale of his life and death during the terror under Stalin very interesting. Having recently read the Gulag Archipeligo made this book all the more meaningful. It was well written but rather dry at times; sometimes I found myself surprised that I was still reading and enjoying it. It gives insight into the creating of poetry that I found exceedingly enlightening but did go into the t ...more
Steffi
Oct 26, 2016 Steffi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Admittedly, the 2nd world has always interested me more than the 3rd world. So, back to Soviet Russia again. Two wretched lovers 'krebsing' through Stalin's Russia.

Nadezhda Mandelstam's memoir of her life with her husband Osip Mandelstam, Russia's 'greatest poet of the century', under the worst years of Stalin era, in particular during the 'Great Purge' of 1937-1938.
It's a fascinating account of intelligentsia life in Soviet Russia in the the 1920s and 1930s, and a story of love, poetry and frie
...more
Michael
Jun 24, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book. The widow Mandelstam writes of her husband, the poet, Osip’s life. She begins the book with him being arrested by the old Soviet government. He was later to die in captivity. In this story she tells of the underground life of so many during those years following the Revolution. And while she writes despairingly - as the title tells it - it also sings of the power of the human spirit and of the generosity and grace present even in the face of barbarity and treacherousn ...more
Claire
Feb 17, 2015 Claire rated it liked it
I suddenly noted that I have already read this book a couple years ago - I just needed the memory boost. (It's the first part of a Soviet memoir.)

Or, maybe there's something more insidious going on in my head, like a brain worm, which is related to a Yeerk except instead of controlling your physical movements it removes sizable chunks of your memory.

THAT is the scary part, not this! In comparison to such phenomenal mental collapse, Stalin et al are cuddly bears.
Andrew
Jan 20, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
Hope Against Hope revolves around two main topics: poetry and dictatorship. A memoir, it focuses mainly on the life of her husband, poet Osip Mandelstam. Osip being the more famous of the pair, Nadezhda herself is not lacking whatsoever in powerful literary merit; her words and story-telling are sharp and full of pathos.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the murderous chaos of the late Stalin regime or for those who like moving and powerful memoirs.
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Nadezhda Yakovlevna Mandelstam (Russian: Надежда Яковлевна Мандельштам, née Hazin; 31 October 1899 – 29 December 1980) was a Russian writer and a wife of poet Osip Mandelstam.
Born in Saratov into a middle-class Jewish family, she spent her early years in Kiev. After the gymnasium she studied art.
After their marriage in 1921, Nadezhda and Osip Mandelstam lived in Ukraine, Petrograd, Moscow, and Geo
...more
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“I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity.” 2483 likes
“And after his death - or even before it, perhaps - he lived on in camp legend as a demented old man of seventy who had once written poetry in the outside world and was therefore nicknamed The Poet. And another old man - or was it the same one? - lived in the transit camp of Vtoraya Rechka, waiting to be shipped to Kolyma, and was thought by many people to be Osip Mandelstam - which, for all I know, he may have been. That is all I have been able to find out about the last days, illness and death of Mandelstam. Others know very much less about the death of their dear ones.” 5 likes
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