Gumilev holds a unique position in the history of Russian poetry as a result of his profound involvement with Africa. He extensively wrote both poetry and prose on the culture of the continent in general and on Ethiopia (Abyssinia, as it was called in Gumilev’s time) in particular. During his abbreviated lifetime Gumilev made four trips to Northern and Eastern Africa, the most extensive of which was a 1913 expedition to Abyssinia undertaken on assignment from the St. Petersburg Imperial Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. During that trip Gumilev collected Ethiopian folklore and ethnographic objects, which, upon his return to St. Petersburg, he deposited at the Museum. He and his assistant Nikolai Sverchkov also made more than 200 photographs that offer a unique picture of the African country in the early part of the century.
This volume collects all of Gumilev’s poetry and prose written about Africa for the first time as well as a number of the photographs that he and Nikolai Sverchkov took during their trip that give a fascinating view of that part of the world in the early twentieth century.
Translated by Slava I. Yastremski, Michael M. Naydan, and Maria Badanova.
Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.
Western readers perhaps know Nikolai Gumilev primarily as the husband of the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. In his time Gumilev was one of the most important figures in the culture of the Silver Age in Russia, even before his marriage to Akhmatova (who incidentally was not yet an established poet when they married). He was the founder of Russian literary Acmeism, which focused on “beautiful clarity” (the poet Mikhail Kuzmin’s term) and simplicity of expression instead of the profoundly complex nature of the word in Russian Symbolism. Gumilev’s poetry is characterized by vivid imagery, bright colors, and exotic locales that entered his poems from numerous travels to France, Italy, England, and, to what became most important to him, Africa. The poet rightly called the source of his creativity the Muse of Distant Travels.
Gumilev’s was executed in August 1921 on charges that he participated in a counterrevolutionary conspiracy. Those charges recently were proven to have been completely fabricated by the Soviet secret police. He was the first major artistic figure to fall victim to the Soviet regime, and his name, especially in immigrant circles, became a symbol of resistance to Soviet totalitarianism.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“What distinguished the young Gumilev was a love of vivid colour and exotic imagery that nurtured in him a passion for foreign places, and for Africa in particular. This passion, initially a literary one, led to many poems with African themes and imagery, and to three trips to north and east Africa. Nikolai Gumilev’s Africa is a compilation of virtually all his poems, prose, diaries and photographs relating to the continent.” Kate Pursglove, East-West Review
“Nikolai Gumilev’s Africa is not only an excellent introduction to Gumilev’s work, but also a little time machine which will take you travelling back to the Ethiopia of the early 20th century – highly recommended!” Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings
There are no reviews yet.