From a letter (6 III 1909) of Innokenty Annensky (classicist, poet, and much-loved teacher) to Max Voloshin:

But do many understand what the word is among us? […] You know, recently, even among us, oh! how many there are who fuss over the word and are even prepared to speak about its cult. But they do not understand that the most frightening and powerful word — the most enigmatic — is perhaps just the everyday word.

(Russian below the cut, from here.) On December 13, 1909, Annensky died from a heart attack at the Tsarskoe Selo railway station on his way home from work; Natalia Murray writes (The Unsung Hero of the Russian Avant-Garde: The Life and Times of Nikolay Punin, p. 14): “It was almost certainly triggered by discovering the non-inclusion of his poems in the first issue of one of the most fashionable journals of the time, Apollon.” You can care too much about the word.

А разве многие понимают, что такое слово – у нас? […] Но знаете, за последнее время и у нас – ух! – как много этих, которые нянчатся со словом и, пожалуй, готовы говорить об его культе. Но они не понимают, что самое страшное и властное слово, т. е. самое загадочное, – может быть именно слово – будничное.


  1. That is so sad! I had no idea Annensky died that way. It’s basically death by rejection. 🙁

  2. Yes, and I hope editors will bear his fate in mind when composing rejection letters. Writers are people too!

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