Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Russia’s Poetic Troika: Background information when reading The Stalin Epigram

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Stalin Epigram

A Novel

by Robert Littell

The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell X
The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2009, 384 pages

    Jun 2010, 384 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Derek Brown
Buy This Book

About this Book

Russia’s Poetic Troika

This article relates to The Stalin Epigram

Print Review

Born in Odessa, Russia in 1889, Anna Akhmatova began writing poems at the age of 11, adopting her grandmother's surname because her father would not permit her to publish under his own. As a member of the Acmeist school of poetry, Akhmatova achieved celebrity along with her husband, Nikolay Gumilyov, who was executed in 1921 as a counter-revolutionary. Between 1925 and 1940, all of Akhmatova's work was banned from publication in the Soviet Union. In 1930 she composed "Requiem," one of her finest and most famous poems, in dedication to the victims of the Stalinist Terror. "Requiem" was not published in Russia until 1987. Despite heavy censorship of her work, Akhmatova remained in Russia, and died in Leningrad in 1966.

Boris Pasternak is best known in the United States for the film Dr. Zhivago, based on his novel about the fate of Russian aristocrats after the Bolshevik revolution. For Russians, however, Pasternak is primarily considered a great poet whose work strongly influenced Mandelstam and Akhmatova. Pasternak was himself born into the Russian aristocracy in 1890 to an impressionist painter and a concert pianist, and his childhood home was frequented by great artists of the day. His collection of poems, My Sister Life, was published in 1921 and established his reputation as an innovative and influential poet. Written in a writers' colony outside of Moscow, Doctor Zhivago had to be smuggled out of the USSR by the political philosopher Isaiah Berlin. The book ultimately earned Pasternak the Nobel Prize in Literature which he declined in response to pressure from the Soviet regime.

Osip Mandelstam was born in 1891 in what is today Warsaw, Poland. He published his first poems while a student at the prestigious Tenishev School. Cofounder with Anna Akhmatova and Nikolay Gumilyovof of the Acmeist school of poetry, Mandelstam's poetry favored directness and the concrete use of imagery. His fate was sealed in 1933 when he published "The Stalin Epigram" a 16-line poem lambasting the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Learn more about Mandelstam here. (If you're considering reading The Stalin Epigram, the full biography contains plot spoilers!)

Filed under Books and Authors

Article by Derek Brown

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Stalin Epigram. It originally ran in July 2009 and has been updated for the June 2010 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bitter Crop
    Bitter Crop
    by Paul Alexander
    In 1958, Billie Holiday began work on an ambitious album called Lady in Satin. Accompanied by a full...
  • Book Jacket: Under This Red Rock
    Under This Red Rock
    by Mindy McGinnis
    Since she was a child, Neely has suffered from auditory hallucinations, hearing voices that demand ...
  • Book Jacket: Clear
    by Carys Davies
    John Ferguson is a principled man. But when, in 1843, those principles drive him to break from the ...
  • Book Jacket: Change
    by Edouard Louis
    Édouard Louis's 2014 debut novel, The End of Eddy—an instant literary success, published ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Flower Sisters
    by Michelle Collins Anderson

    From the new Fannie Flagg of the Ozarks, a richly-woven story of family, forgiveness, and reinvention.

Win This Book
Win The Funeral Cryer

The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Debut novelist Wenyan Lu brings us this witty yet profound story about one woman's midlife reawakening in contemporary rural China.



Solve this clue:

M as A H

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.