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Professor Michael Basker on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time

17 January 2018

Professor Michael Basker will tomorrow appear as a guest of Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time. The programme will discuss the life and work of the twentieth century Russian poet Anna Akhmatova.

Anna Akhmatova is regarded as one of the greatest Russian poets. Besides poetry, which constitutes the lion’s share of her literary legacy, she wrote prose—primarily memoirs, autobiographical pieces, and literary scholarship, including her outstanding essays on Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. She also produced many first-rate translations of Italian, French, Armenian, and Korean poetry. In her lifetime Akhmatova experienced two different kinds of Russia, prerevolutionary and Soviet, yet her verse protected the traditions of classical Russian culture from the onslaught of avant-garde radicalism and formal experimentation, as well as from the suffocating ideological strictures of socialist realism. For all the restraint, femininity, and ostensible apoliticism of her verse, her poetic persona perfectly embodied the tragic spirit of twentieth-century Russia.

Michael Basker is Professor of Russian Literature. He is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and chair of the board of the Bristol Poetry Institute. His main research interests are in Russian Silver Age literature, Pushkin, and nineteenth-century poetry. He is an internationally renowned expert on the Acmeist poets Gumilev, Akhmatova and Mandelstam – many of whose texts were proscribed in Russia for much of the twentieth century – and has published widely on the writings of their predecessors and elder, Symbolist contemporaries.

Further information

The programme will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 9.30am on Thursday 18 January 2018. Following the broadcast, the episode will be available to listen again here.

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