“HE LOVED ME, BUT OCCASIONALLY HE WAS A LITTLE BIT UNFAITHFUL”
Nadezhda Mandel’shtam’s Marginalia on Mandel’shtam’s American “Collected Works”
Edited, preparation of the text, and introduction by T. M. Levina
Notes by T. M. Levina and A. T. Nikitaev
This publication consists of Nadezhda Mandel’shtam’s marginalia on her own copy of the third volume of Mandel’shtam’s American Collected Works. In comparison with recently published (and highly valuable) materials concerning the life and work of Mandel’shtam, this source may appear rather modest. However, publication of these notes seems perfectly reasonable: they allow us to supplement biographical, historical and literary commentary, and in particular they include unique memoir witness, which has no parallels in other published documents.
The swear words in Nadezhda Mandel’shtam’s marginalia leave no doubt that her notes were not intended for print. And at the same time, the nature of these notes reveals that they were not made for herself: indeed, one would hardly make aides-mémoire, on a book, about the fact that somebody is a “bitch”, and somebody else a “bastard” or “shit”. It would appear that the marginalia were intended for people from Nadezhda Mandel’shtam’s own milieu, who, when editing or commenting Mandel’shtam, were supposed to actualize her views and her attitude to events and those taking part in them. The mythologization of Mandel’shtam’s biography was also to be advanced by laconic “formulae”, one of which is used as the title of the present publication. It may very well be that the main value of these marginalia lies here: while revealing some aspects of Nadezhda Mandel’shtam’s original personality, they, better than anything else, enable us to appraise the real measure of this memoirist’s subjectivity.