Silver Age and After: Repressed Russian Poets, Artists and Philosophers during the Soviet Period

by Roberto Echavarren

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Roberto Echarren guides readers through a captivating exploration of a pivotal era in Russian history, skillfully unveiling the contributions of key figures through his eloquent prose. This journey reverberates profoundly in the contemporary context of dwindling intellectual and personal liberties in the nation.

Dr. Alejandro Varderi
Manhattan College, City University of New York

In “Silver Age and After,” Roberto Echavarren explores the life and work of crucial Russian poets (as well as other artists and thinkers) who, after a short period of democratic freedom, were faced with the brutal repression of Lenin and Stalin regimes. Echavarren gives us the opportunity to engage with the art of those who, like Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, or Nikolai Klyuev, had the courage of their creative convictions. Together with “One Against All: Lenin and His Legacy” (2022) and “Russian Nights” (2023), this is the final submission of Echavarren’s epic and breathtaking Soviet trilogy. Page after page, this timely book reminds us of the responsibility we ourselves hold in shaping our own destinies and inspires us to believe, singleheartedly, in Marina Tsvetaeva’s creed that ‘Parallel to our unworthy life—there is another life: solemn, indestructible, absolute...’

Dr. Pablo Baler

Professor of Latin American Literature
California State University

I read "The Silver Age" slowly, savoring its intense bursts of poetic and critical insight. It is a lovely recreation of the era, in all its shimmering, mercurial complexity. Echavarren clearly understands and, more importantly, feels the tragic power of the lives he chronicles and of the art these lives brought us. I also admire the book’s innovative form; it is at once a work of scholarship and criticism, a travelogue, and a philosophical drama.

Boris Dralyuk
Executive Editor, Los Angeles Review of Books /
"1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution" (Pushkin Press, Dec. 2016)
"The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry" (with Robert Chandler and Irina Mashinski, Penguin Classics, 2015
"Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry and Odessa Stories" (Pushkin Press, 2015 and Oct. 2016)]

Robert Echavarren's latest work "Silver Age and After: Repressed Russian Poets, Artists and Philosophers during the Soviet Period"
is a brilliant and necessary collection of essays on some of the most significant and exquisite poets of the twentieth century who were persecuted mercilessly by a Stalinist state. In our current era, in which liberal dialogue is at risk globally, in which terrorism is implicitly condoned by censorship and monolithic diversity (I believe Borges would have approved of this oxymoron), Echavarren's book should be required reading for all."

Dr. Suzanne Jill Levine
Professor Emerita
University of California, Santa Barbara
recently honored by the 2024 PEN/Ralph Manheim Award for Translation

Not many Latin American writers—and maybe none—have experienced Russian literature as passionately as Roberto Echavarren. “Silver Age and After” is the culmination of that passion; an intelligently written, well-documented, and thorough testament of love for a cultural world that no longer exists but has an enduring power as those voices—Akhmatova's, and Blok's, and Tsvetaeva's, to name only a few—are more pertinent now than ever.

Francisco Alvez Francese
Université Paris VIII; Université de Versailles, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France

The details of the Jewish Holocaust have become part of our history through the testimony of those who survived the death camps. The details of Lenin’s and Stalin’s reign of terror are far less known because they took place behind a wall of secrecy, and because survivors have been loath to speak about them for fear of retribution.
This is an encompassing volume presenting an intense display, as complete as can be, of poets, artists, musicians, and philosophers and intellectual actors implicated in different aspects of Russian life roughly through the period 1900-1960. They were people who had lived under the Soviet regime in times of peace and in times of war, from the Red Terror through the Great Terror. One must bear in mind the political and economic conditions in which those lives developed: the one-party rule placed above both the government and the citizens, the abashment of the division of powers, the suppression of private property and private economic initiative, the political police, and the GULAG.
I deal with the poets in several chapters, then theater directors, then composers, then philosophers (these both in the introduction and in the play at the end of the book).
Besides the Prologue and Introduction, the reader will find an Index of historical names, plus an extensive Bibliography. The work can be used for reference, for classroom adoption, for researchers/practitioners of Russian Literature, Political Studies, Slavic Studies, and Russian History.

Acronyms of the Soviet Union Political Police

Chapter 1
Nikolai Gumilyov and the Annihilation of the Russian Cultural Intelligentsia
Chapter 2
At the House of the Fountain: Anna Akhmatova
Chapter 3
The Summer Garden: Ana Akhmatova
Chapter 4
At Home with Alexander Blok
Chapter 5
At Home with Marina Tsvetaeva
Chapter 6
Marina Tsvetaeva and Rainer Maria Rilke
Chapter 7
Tsetaeva’s Death
Chapter 8
The Peasant Poet: Nikolai Klyuev
Chapter 9
Under the Horses of the Alexandrinsky
Chapter 10
Meyerhold and Stanislavski
Chapter 11
Meyerhold and Mayakovsky
Chapter 12
La Rive Gauche: Ehrenburg and Gide
Chapter 13
The Muses Were not Silent: Dmitri Shostakovich

The Philosophers’ Ship: Introduction
The Philosopher’s Ship: A Play

Roberto Echavarren is a poet, novelist, essayist, and translator. He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he studied philosophy and law. He then pursued graduate studies in Philosophy at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and received his Ph.D. at the University of Paris VIII. Echavarren taught at the University of London before a twenty-year career teaching at New York University. He has published five novels, notably his last three short novels combined under the title 'Archipiélago' (Archipelago). He was awarded the 2021 Amado Alonso International Prize of Literary Criticism for his book 'El pensamiento chino' (Chinese Thought). In 2022 and 2023 he published 'One Against All, Lenin and his Legacy,' and 'Russian Nights: Autocracy and Testimony,' plus an anthology of his verse, 'Verde escarabajo.'

Russian poetry, Silver Age poetry, Silver Age Philosophy, Silver Age and the Arts, Lenin policies of terror, Stalin policies of terror, Soviet Union treatment of intellectuals

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Silver Age and After: Repressed Russian Poets, Artists and Philosophers during the Soviet Period





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

July 2024