The Noise of Silence: Censorship in Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem

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The Noise of Silence: Censorship in Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem
By Richard Lee Pierre free ebook
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This essay is about censorship, of course. Yet as with all writing that attempts to
address a complex issue, it is really about something else as well. Perhaps this is the case
with any writing that attempts to mobilize a conceptual binary: censorship is opposed to
the free act of expression, as silence is to speaking, as forgetting is to remembering. Or is
it, after all? The friction that results from putting seemingly divided binaries into action
can be productive. For instance, the force of potentiality that arises in the energetic field
between remembering and forgetting emerges also at the point of poetic construction; the
process of literary construction mirrors the processes of memory:
Literature is a technique of oblivion. Censorship is a technique of remembrance. Is this really true? Isn’t
literature a means of recollection and censorship the oppression of memory? […] There is no memory
without oblivion, no literature without what we may call censorship. (Hohnsträter, 299)
In other words, some material is “remembered” and factored into the formation of a
poetic utterance, while other material is “forgotten” and left out, not built into the end
It is in the act of censorship—in the political or ideological sense of the word—
that memory and forgetting enter into the creating of a public, common voice of a
collective. To take an example: many theorists of nationalism have emphasized the role
that narrative construction plays in nation-formation and in the endurance of the national
idea. The hearkening back to a “golden age” that occurs in so many national narratives,
for instance, can be considered a form of organized remembering through the
construction of a myth-narrative.