Poets of Hope and Despair: The Russian Symbolists in War and Revolution (1914-1918), Ben Hellman examines the artistic responses and the philosophical and political attitudes of eight major Russian poets to the First World War and the revolutions of 1917. The historical cataclysms gave rise to apocalyptic premonitions and a thirst for a total spiritual metamorphosis. A major topic of discussion was the role of Russia in this process. Other issues raised were modern Germany, the future of a divided Poland, the occupation of Belgium, and the dilemma of the Russian Jews. In the wake of the military setbacks, hopes were mixed with feelings of fear and despair, all expressed in fictional as well as in nonfictional form.
Ben Hellman, Ph.D. (1996), University of Helsinki, is a Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the field of Russian Literature. His numerous publications include
Fairy Tales and True Stories: The History of Russian Literature for Children and Young People (1574-2010) (Brill 2013) and
Hemma hos Tolstoj: Nordiska möten i liv och dikt (Stockholm 2017).
Table of contents
Preface to the First Edition Preface to the Second Edition
Symbolism Before the War
The Birth of Symbolism. Two Generations
The Symbolists and Politics
The War: Act I (1914-1915)
Realities of the War
The Burning Questions
The Critics of Nationalism
The War: Act II (1915-1917)
Defeats and Deadlock: Occasional Verse
Viacheslav Ivanov: Behind the German Threat - China!
Fedor Sologub: ``Our Children Will Save Russia...''
Valerii Briusov: The Duty to Remember
Konstantin Bal'mont: Betrayed
Zinaida Gippius: Waiting for Revolution
Dmitrii Merezhkovskii: Waiting for the Apocalypse
Andrei Belyi: The Revolt of the Machines
Aleksandr Blok: Demoralization on all Sides
Valerii Briusov: After Thirty Months of War
The War: Act III (1917-1918)
The February Revolution of the Spirit
Who Is for the War? Who Is Against?
Russia in Deep Crisis
The October Revolution: The End or the Beginning?
The Symbolist Experience 1914-1918
All interested in Russian modernism, especially Symbolism, and Russian history of the war years 1914-1918 and the revolutions of 1917.