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The Politics of Female Identity in the poetry of Anna Akhmatova and Gabriela Mistral

Comparative literature shows us the existence of counterpointing lines in a great composition in which difference is respected and understood without coercion. – Edward Said

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1967)  by Nathan Isaevich Altman

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1967) by Nathan Isaevich Altman

History, Antonio Gramsci suggests, leaves in us an infinity of traces through heredity, family, and collective and personal experiences, but it doesn’t provide us with an orderly guide or inventory. Our challenge then, says Gramsci, is to try to make sense of it. The most interesting of human experiences, he suggests, is the task of interpretation, the task of shaping and making sense of History in order to understand our own history in relation to other people’s, to move beyond our own experience, to transform into someone else, from a unitarian identity into an identity that includes the other, to understand oneself in relation to others and others as one understands oneself (Selections From the Prison Notebook 56).

Much groundbreaking criticism has been written on Gabriela Mistral and Anna Akhmatova. What can I tell you that you have not heard a thousand times? For a long time the poetry of these two women have been reread and reexamined independently from each other. However, there is no study that illustrates the remarkable similarities between the work and lives of these very complex and yet distinct poets. Therefore, a comparative study seems important to bring together the work of two figures, though quite different, were able to negotiate and construct through their poetry similar politics of female identity. Akhmatova and Mistral transform and transcend personal and private histories into universal themes. Their literary experimentation, the changes to the status quo their work profess, their individual experiences of history, their move away from Symbolism, their embrace of Realism, their straightforward narrative style, and their economy of language are all to compelling, and thus important objects of study. Indeed, I propose to study these elements in the light of the historical context, the philosophical and literary schools and movements that impacted both poets.
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My Mother, Leaving Me

Woman with Alzheimer's Sits on a Swing Shaded by an Umbrell by Lynn Johnson

Woman with Alzheimer's Sits on a Swing Shaded by an Umbrella by Lynn Johnson

I visited my 80 year old mom yesterday.

Afterward, I came home and ran for 2 and a half hours (not my usual workout routine!) and slept for two hours last night. My mom is dying. Continue reading →

10 Steps to Pursuing Your Dreams



My life and social calendar seemed to stay perpetually full beginning in mid-2004. I had just returned to the United States from a year-long tour with the U.S. Army in Sinai, Egypt. I had just launched my second career as a contemporary fiction author, was still pursuing my bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland University College, and was beginning my new job in the U.S. Army as a journalism instructor at the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md. On top of all that, I felt the brunt of being the single parent of an energetic 4-year-old daughter. Continue reading →