The final occasion was to be the last night they spent in their Moscow apartment before being banished, without means of providing for themselves, to a succession of rural towns situated beyond a hundred-kilometre perimeter of all major cities. It is the face of a man who has never and will never let anyone, including himself, off the hook. Osip Mandelstam, also Osip Mandel'shtam, was born in Warsaw and grew up in St.Petersburg. The Mandelstams were despatched to Armenia under the pretext of reporting on collectivisation but, in reality, Bukharin was removing them from the dangerous level of state scrutiny that the scandal had subjected them to. Mandelstam's parents were Jewish, but not very religious. Given a reprieve of sorts, they moved to Voronezh in southwestern Russia. Life was harsh and comfortless but the couple were ever aware that having this time together, in which the poet could continue to work, was more than they could have expected. Eimear McBride is a former winner of the Baileys and Goldsmiths Prizes (the latter in association with the New Statesman). “Only in Russia is poetry respected,” he is quoted as ­saying. Witnesses remembered that during the last months of his life Mandelstam was succumbing to insanity. The cat-and-mouse game between the poet Osip Mandelstam and the Soviet dictator could only end in death. Primary Sources Osip Mandelstam. In spring 1938, Mandelstam was granted an interview with the head of the Writers' Union Vladimir Stavsky, who granted him a two-week holiday for two in a rest home outside Moscow. I alone in Russia work from the voice,” he was being literal. [16] His wife hoped at first that this was over a fracas that had taken place in Leningrad a few days earlier, when Mandlestam slapped the writer Alexei Tolstoy because of a perceived insult to Nadezhda, but under interrogation he was confronted with a copy of the Stalin Epigram, and immediately admitted to being its author, believing that it was wrong in principle for a poet to renounce his own work. In 1922, Mandelstam and Nadezhda moved to Moscow. That the poet had been betrayed, however, was immediately clear from the official drop in temperature surrounding their efforts to ­re-establish their lives. In 1933, at the height of … Osip Mandelstam died in a Siberian transit camp in December 1938. Love the existence of the thing itself and your own existence more than yourself: that is Acme­ism’s highest commandment.” Towards the end of his life he was also reported, by Akhmatova, to have described Acmeism as “a homesickness for world culture”. When Mandelstam says that the poet speaks to an unknown and presum- ably distant conversation partner, he sets his poetry—and with it, all poetry—into what I will call a “poetic present tense.”4 Accepting his role as Mandelstam’s conversation partner, Celan sets the time of Mandelstam’s poetry and the time of his own … His father was a successful leather-goods dealer and his mother a piano teacher. Anna Akhmatova’s former husband, the poet and founder of the Acmeist movement, Nikolai Gumilev, had been arrested by the Cheka, the secret police, framed for participating in a fictitious tsarist plot and summarily executed in 1921. People were either living in abject terror of being picked up in the by now nightly rounds of arrests or were the informers responsible for bringing the slightest idiosyncrasies of their neighbours to the attention of the authorities. This escape was looked upon as a "miracle"[18] - but the strain of his interrogation had driven Mandelstam to the verge of insanity. (Acmeism was a literary movement advocating a poetry that directly reflected human experience in the physical world, and of which Mandelstam was the foremost exponent.). On completing three years of exile they returned to Moscow but found they had been stripped of their residency rights. Poem Hunter all poems of by Osip Emilevich Mandelstam poems. Osip Mandelstam - 1891-1938 Our lives no longer feel ground under them. Is there ­anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?”. In line with most of the Russian intelligentsia, Mandelstam had been initially supportive of the ideals of the Bolsheviks and sought to embrace the spirit of revolution. The previous winter, he had forced himself to write his "Ode to Stalin", hoping it protect him against further persecution. He later wrote that "at my side, my wife did not sleep for five nights"[19] - but when they arrived at Cherdyn, she fell asleep, in the upper floor of a hospital, and he attempted suicide by throwing himself out of the window. The identity of the informer remains unknown and Nadezhda Mandelstam was never sure who their personal Judas was. Mandelstam, however, had realised this early on. After her husband's arrest and death in 1938 she saved his poetry by committing it all to memory, and saved herself by fleeing to the remote eastern regions of Russia. Mandelstam three-year period of exile ended in May 1937, when the Great Purge was under way. Nadezhda Mandelstam first discovered his death when a package of warm clothing she had sent was returned unopened, bearing the stark message: “The addressee is dead.”. The waves of arrests gripping the country continued to drag people almost indiscriminately to their death or to the camps, sometimes both. For several years after that, he almost completely abandoned poetry, concentrating on essays, literary criticism, memoirs The Noise Of Time, Feodosiya - both 1925; (Noise of Time 1993 in English) and small-format prose The Egyptian Stamp (1928). Pasternak proposed a meeting to talk. [14] She also managed to preserve a significant part of Mandelstam's unpublished work. [8] For several years after that, he almost completely abandoned poetry, concentrating on essays, literary criticism, memoirs The Noise Of Time, Feodosiya - both 1925; (Noise of Time 1993 in English) and small-format prose The Egyptian Stamp (1928). His first poems were printed in 1907 in the school's almanac. In recognising this, he recognised that he, too, would find himself “herded in a herd”. On his return to Moscow Mandelstam found the attitude towards his work had not improved and the situation in the country had deteriorated. Given the real danger that all copies of Osip's poetry would be destroyed, she worked to memorize his entire corpus, as well as to hide and preserve select paper manuscripts, all the while dodging her own arrest. The material on the investigations into the case … Over the years, she patiently tracked down whom she could of the very few of his fellow inmates who had managed to survive their ordeal, both physically and mentally. He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes, She insisted throughout her life that their relationship had always been a very deep friendship, rather than a sexual affair. Mandelstam's own prophecy was fulfilled: "Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. She awoke to find Mandelstam standing at the open window. Later, in 1941, after years of torment at the hands of the state, including the execution of her husband and the imprisonment of her daughter, Marina Tsvetaeva hanged herself. Four months later, on 2 August 1938,[25] Mandelstam was sentenced to five years in correction camps. He desires no other paradise than existence . Each victim felt special in the gross injustice of their fate. In the years since his death, Mandelstam has come to be recognized as one of Russia's greatest and most inspiring poets. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?" In January 1991 the world celebrated the centenary of Mandelstam's birth. What has now been established – with as reasonable a degree of certainty as possible for a time in which wives, upon receiving official notification of their husband’s sentence to hard labour in the Gulag, were often casually informed that they were now free to remarry – is that in the Vtoraya Rechka transit camp, en route to Vladivostok in December 1938, Mandelstam, frail and worn out from his many years of oppression, malnourished, severely mentally unstable and without adequate protective clothing for the ferocious Siberian winter, succumbed possibly to typhus, probably to a heart attack. All of them thought it was the police. 2 January] 1891 – 27 December 1938) was a Russian and Soviet poet. [2], Mandelstam was born in Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire to a wealthy Polish-Jewish family. He died in a prison camp in Siberia in 1938; his poetry and prose was preserved by his wife and friends and published in New York in a … One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye. In many ways, this allegiance dedicated him to the set of personal and artistic principles that eventually led his continued existence to be untenable for the Soviet state. Osip Mandelstam. Mandelstam anticipated that insulting Stalin would carry the death penalty, but Nadezhda and Anna Akhmatova started a campaign to save him, and succeeded in creating "a kind of special atmosphere, with people fussing and whispering to each other." At this time, his second book of poems, Tristia, was published in Berlin. [13] Nadezha Mandelstam formed a lifelong friendship with Anna Akhmatova, who was a guest in the Mandelstam's apartment when he was arrested for the first time, but complained that she could never be friendly with Tsvetayeva, partly because "I had decided on Akhmatova as 'top' woman poet". In the original version, the one that was handed in to the police, he called Stalin the "peasant slayer", as well as pointing out that he had fat fingers. In 1922, Mandelstam and Nadezhda moved to Moscow. His eyes conceal any trace of the fear that must have been coursing through him; rather, his expression is the very manifestation of contempt. . He recites line after line … By the time of this first arrest, Mandelstam had already lived for several years with the knowledge that the long-term aim of the Soviet state machine was to take his life – the method and the timescale were all that remained to be revealed. On his return to Russia, and after the requisite conversion to Lutheranism, he was accepted into St Petersburg ­University. It was a strange and cruel death for a man whose early life had somehow evaded the usual traps laid for the children of successful Jewish merchants in pre-revolutionary Russia. Upon recovering from a severe bout of torture-induced mental illness, which led to a suicide attempt, Mandelstam went on to compose several “notebooks” of his finest poetry during these years of exile. A Note on Mandelstam’s Poems. How do we tell the story of Sylvia Plath. 62 poems of Osip Emilevich Mandelstam. Osip Mandelstam by his near namesake Iosif Stalin. Execution for both seemed inevitable but instead the couple received their final “miracle”. x x x . Further publication of Mandelstam’s poetry started to become problematic and the poet found himself falling back on translation, editing, memoir and children’s books in order to make ends meet. According to her biographer, "Of the many love affairs with men that Marina embarked upon with such intensity during this period, it was probably the only one that was physically consummated. His poetry is highly erudite and complex. Tristia (tranlsation by Ilya Shambat) ... Like for a fairy wolf we wait for death And he will be the first to die, I fear, That has a startling mouth that's red with fear And hair that falls upon the eyes like sheathe. There may also be a reference here to an amulet with a Hebrew inscription given to Pushkin, who was exiled to the Crimea … After that meeting, police agents ceased shadowing the couple. Homer. At home Mandelstam was taught by tutors and governesses. Ahkmatova, Mandelstam, and Gumilev (2013), Mandlestam, Osip (2012) "Stolen Air", translated by Christian Wiman. Did Pasternak’s clever hesitation in confirming Mandelstam’s genius allow the Mandelstams’ final “miracle” to occur? According to the official version Osip Mandelstam died of heart failure. This inspired the lines written by Akhmatova in March 1936: Actually, the fact that Stalin had given an order to "isolate and preserve" Mandelstam meant that he was safe from further persecution, temporarily. In 1916, Mandelstam was passionately involved with the poet Marina Tsvetayeva. “It is hard to believe,” she wrote, “that someone can be taken away from you and simply be destroyed.” Osip Mandelstam’s assessment of the times was even starker: “The aim was to destroy not only people, but the intellect itself.”. Osip Mandelstam, also Osip Mandel'shtam, was born in Warsaw and grew up in St.Petersburg. Mandelstam's parents were Jewish, but not very religious. Face on, though, arms folded and lips firmly pursed, he presents another proposition entirely. This page was last edited on 1 January 2021, at 17:46. "[14], During Mandelstam's years of imprisonment, 1934–38, Nadezhda accompanied him into exile. Mandelstam's parents were Jewish, but not very religious. Bukharin, still a few years from his own downfall, managed to have Mandelstam exiled rather than shot, with Stalin declaring that the poet should be “isolated but preserved”. He isolated him andpushedhim beyond the limit of death. It was called Joseph, but later he changed the name to «Osip». Nadezhda Mandelstam was only informed of his death in either late January or… Most victims could not, or dared not, see beyond the particularity of their own plight – or that of their family, profession or class – to reach the realisation that what had happened was only one small piece in a far wider plan to divide and declaw at any cost. Mandelstam died in a transit camp near Vladivostok on 27 December 1938. The degree of terror in which ordinary people from every stratum of society were forced to conduct their daily lives was almost intolerable and waiting for his moment caused Mandelstam to suffer two stress-induced heart attacks. It seems unlikely that a man who had devoted his life’s work to such ideals could ever have learned just to rub along with the all-devouring beast whose ideological agenda could brook no dissent. [11], In 1922, Mandelstam married Nadezhda Mandelstam in Kiev, Ukraine, where she lived with her family,[12] but the coupled settled in Moscow. He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home. In 1928, Mandelstam published a book of collected poems, a volume of critical essays and The Egyptian Stamp, one of the few examples of Russian surrealist fiction. As a schoolboy, he was introduced by a friend to members of the illegal Socialist Revolutionary Party, including Mark Natanson, and the terrorist Grigory Gershuni. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies. Nadezhda wrote memoirs about her life and times with her husband in Hope against Hope (1970) [15] and Hope Abandoned. “If I were a poet and a poet friend of mine were in trouble, I would do anything to help him,” he said. Vladimir Mayakovsky, initially a vigorous supporter of Soviet ideology and evangelical in his profound personal admiration for Lenin, had fallen from grace and been driven, by a series of public accusations, to shoot himself in 1930. (ref. At ten paces you can’t hear our words. From then until Mandelstam’s final arrest in 1938, they lived in a state of utter desperation and total dependency on the willingness of others to provide them with succour. [18] Boris Pasternak - who disapproved of the tone of the Epigram - nonetheless appealed to the eminent Bolshevik, Nikolai Bukharin, to intervene. When Pasternak defended himself, Stalin interrupted, “But he’s a genius, he’s a genius, isn’t he?” To which Pasternak replied, “But that’s not the point.” “Then what is?” asked Stalin. He is the author of the most famous anti-Stalin verse. When Mandelstam wrote, “I never write. The Russian poet Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam (1891-1938) began as a member of the Acmeist movement and then evolved a style notable for its clarity, diction, concern for form, and classical allusions. From there he rang Akmatova every day, begging her to come.’ That was in 1934, and in his indispensable Mandelstam, Clarence … This also left him unable to deny the knowledge that, ultimately, the poet suffers no better or worse a fate than those for whom his poetry has been written. Few poets escaped premature death, whether by privation, suicide, or judicial murder. [22] There is a story, possibly apochryphal, that Mandelstam even rang Dukelsky to recite poetry over the phone.[23]. It is not purely a bitter coincidence that in his 1913 essay “The Morning of Acmeism” he asserts, “To exist is the artist’s greatest pride. He converted to Methodism and entered the university the same year. As a day job, he translated literature into … "[9] Mandelstam was said to have had an affair with the poet Anna Akhmatova. Works in Biographical and Historical Context Beyond the Pale, Childhood from Warsaw to St. Petersburg Osip Emil'evich Mandelstam was born on January 3, 1891, in Warsaw, then a part of … In the years since his death, Mandelstam has come to be recognized—particularly in the West—as one of the Russian language’s greatest and most inspiring poets, the equal to Akhmatova, Pasternak, and Marina Tsvetaeva. When Akhmatova was paying them a visit, a couple of other friends unexpected knocked on the door. Yet what remains both specific and peculiar was Stalin’s personal preoccupation with the fate of the poets under his thumb. The conditions of the camp almost certainly drove him, and not a few others, to the point of insanity. [4], In April 1908, Mandelstam decided to enter the Sorbonne in Paris to study literature and philosophy, but he left the following year to attend the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He arrived at the Vtoraya Rechka (Second River) transit camp near Vladivostok in Russia's Far East and managed to get a note out to his wife asking for warm clothes; he never received them. The previous month, on 16 March - the day after the Mandelstams' former protector, Nikolai Bukharin had been sentenced to death - Stavsky had written to head of the NKVD, Nikolay Yezhov, denouncing Mandelstam. He vehemently denied the accusation of attempting to grab undue credit but the state-sponsored campaign was well organised and so the doors to any further opportunities for publication were now, conveniently, shut. He was arrested by Joseph Stalin's government during the repression of the 1930s and sent into internal exile with his wife. One of the most revealing photographs of Osip Mandelstam still in existence is a mugshot taken in the Lubyanka, on the occasion of his first arrest, in 1934. This article appears in the 04 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Russian Revolution, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld: “Openly Falling”, The photo that shaped me: Olivia Laing on Annie Leibovitz’s “The Girls”. The first sentence of Nadezhda Mandelstam’s Hope against Hope is one of the most memorable openings in all literature: ‘After slapping Alexei Tolstoi in the face, M. immediately returned to Moscow. Mandelstam was never to see his later poetry in print, and although a heavily censored version of his Journey to Armenia appeared in 1933, it proved to be the last significant publication of his life. In 1911, he and several other young Russian poets formed the "Poets' Guild", under the formal leadership of Nikolai Gumilyov and Sergei Gorodetsky. “Life and death,” Pasternak said and Stalin hung up. “Isn’t it time?” he said. [7] In 1913 he published his first collection of poems, The Stone;[8] it was reissued in 1916 under the same title, but with additional poems included. In April 1935, he wrote a four line poem that included the pun - Voronezh - blazh', Voronezh - voron, nozh meaning 'Voronezh is a whim, Voronezh - a raven, a knife.'. In the autumn of 1933, Mandelstam composed the poem "Stalin Epigram", which he recited at a few small private gatherings in Moscow. Mikhail Berman-Tsikinovsky (2008), play "Continuation of Mandelstam" (published by Vagrius, Moskow. The publication in 1913 of his first collection of poetry, Stone, established his reputation as one – alongside Akhmatova (who became both his and his wife’s truest friend and most loyal ally in the years of anguish ahead) – of the pre-eminent poets of his generation. His father, a successful leather merchant, was able to receive a dispensation that enabled them to move to Saint Petersburg. As the mantra of the secret police – “Give us a man and we’ll make a case” – was well known, normal communication between people ceased to be possible. Angered at the growing repression under leader Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, he mocked him in “The Kremlin Highlander”: We are living, but can’t feel the land where we stay, In accordance with this, the pair were sent first to Cherdyn in the Urals and from there on to Voronezh. In 1998, a monument was put up in Vladivostok in his memory. He spent his later years in exile, serving sentences for counter-revolutionary activities in various work camps, until his death on December 27, 1938, in … The nucleus of this group became known as Acmeists. However, his continued refusal to compromise the integrity of his work in service of the propaganda machine was energetically scapegoated by those with the foresight to realise that feeding their poetry into the meat-grinder would ultimately prove preferable to feeding themselves into it. The publication in 1922 of his collection Tristia, preoccupied as it was with love and the sanctity of the Word (a reverential phrase for the composition of poetry current at the time), only contributed to the antagonism between Mandelstam and his more pragmatic peers. Six months later, on the night of May 16–17, 1934, Mandelstam was arrested by three NKVD officers who arrived at his flat with a search warrant signed by Yakov Agranov. camp document of 12 October 1938, signed by Mandelstam) and charged with "counter-revolutionary activities". Nadezhda Mandelstam first discovered his death when a package of warm clothing she had sent was returned unopened, bearing the stark message: “The addressee is dead.” Over the years, she patiently tracked down whom she could of the very few of his fellow inmates who had managed to survive their ordeal, both … Getting him out of Moscow made it possible to arrest him without setting off a reaction. Persephone is the goddess of the underworld. In 1938 Mandelstam was arrested again and sentenced to five years in a corrective-labour camp in the Soviet Far East. The truth of this statement had been borne out long before Russia arrived at the great Yezhov terror of 1937-38, which was to provide Mandelstam and so many others with their end. повести. His own youthful poetry and publishing success in Georgia remained a source of pride to him throughout his barbarising progress across the 20th century. [3] He continued to be attracted to other women, sometimes seriously. Osip Mandelstam, the son of wealthy Jewish parents, was born in Warsaw, on 3rd January, 1891. His death was described later in a short story "Sherry Brandy" by Varlam Shalamov. He was the husband of Nadezhda Mandelstam and one of the foremost members of the Acmeist school of poets. At home Mandelstam was taught by tutors and governesses. Although officials at the camp buried him in a common grave on 27 December 1938 and therefore attribute this to be the day he died, the exact date is still unconfirmed. Mandelstam's poetry, acutely populist in spirit after the first Russian revolution in 1905, became closely associated with symbolist imagery. Mandelstam read it in a closed room to a small group of friends, most of whom responded with horror and begged him to destroy it immediately. She also complained that Tsvetayeva could not take her eyes off her husband, and that "she accused me of being jealous of her. Each was preoccupied with either righting their individual wrong or getting from one day to the next without having the axe fall. When a printer’s error in an edition of Charles de Coster’s German fable The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak credited Mandelstam as “translator” rather than “editor”, a carefully constructed uproar ensued, in which he was viciously denounced in the press. [3] His father, a leather merchant by trade, was able to receive a dispensation freeing the family from the Pale of Settlement. Osip Mandelstam, the son of wealthy Jewish parents, was born in Warsaw, on 3rd January, 1891.His father, a successful leather merchant, was able to receive a dispensation that enabled them to move to Saint Petersburg.. His first poems were printed in 1907 in the school's almanac.He … Osip Mandelstam was born on Jan. 15, 1891, in Warsaw, the son of a Jewish … His natural opposition to the collective allowed him a deeper understanding of what is truly universal about human experience. This was a trap. In the side-on view, it’s of little significance: he looks like any balding 1930s labourer from almost anywhere. Taut Canvas., I Don’t Remember The Word I Wished To Say Osip Mandelstam: biography. All that can be known with certainty is that Stalin could easily have caused Mandelstam’s death years before he did and yet, for some mysterious reason, he held off. he is reputed to have asked Pasternak.[20]. The poem deliberately insulted the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. suggests that Mandelstam's grim death was his last and greatest creation, the necessary, freely chosen conclusion to an exemplary life-in-art: "After all, the end, death-is a most powerful structural element, and it determines the entire thrust of the life. As W S Merwin and Clarence Brown have it in their translation, the “Kremlin mountaineer” with the “huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip” enjoys toying with “the tributes of half-men”: One whistles, another meouws, a third snivels. Osip Mandelstam, also Osip Mandel'shtam, was born in Warsaw and grew up in St.Petersburg. But whenever there’s a snatch of talk it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer, the ten thick worms his fingers, his words like measures of weight, the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip, the glitter of his boot-rims. After Stalin's death in 1953 (and long after his own death), Mandelstam was “rehabilitated” and his work has undergone a revival. The amulet is buried love, poetry, memory, as are the rose-flakes of his mother’s funeral. The great cunning of Stalin’s programme of mass arrests, torture and killing was his compartmentalisation of atrocity. He did not, and although the phrase “peasant killer” was ­excised from later versions, the poem’s music was soon playing in the ears of those who so liked to hear the funeral dirge. Nadezhda Mandelstam – the poet’s wife and invaluable support throughout his, and their, many years of persecution and exile – wrote in her powerful memoir of both the poet and the era, Hope Against Hope, about the many instances when, confronted with the desperation of their situation, they had asked each other if this was the moment when they, too, could no longer bear to go forward. Soon after Osip's birth, they moved to Saint Petersburg. At this time, his second book of poems, Tristia, was published in Berlin. Father Emil Mandelstam was a master glove cases, … In spite of this all-pervasive atmosphere of dread, in an act of extraordinary philosophical conviction and supreme personal and artistic bravery, Mandelstam wrote what was to become known as “The Stalin Epigram”, which not only criticised but openly mocked the “Man of Steel” for his bloodthirstiness. It has never been established who it was.[17]. But in another version, typhus caused the death. During this period, Mandelstam focused on writing essays and literary criticism. He died that year at a transit camp near Vladivostok. “Conspire against emptiness”: Mandelstam c.1909. Any form of social interaction as previously understood was now impossible. By Nadezhda Mandelstam’s account, it happened so quickly that her husband hadn’t even time to put on his jacket before being hauled away. In 1934, it came. Osip Mandelstam is considered to be one of the best Russian poets of the 20th century, and is someone who met a tragic end because of the political direction his country took. After his Stalin’s epigram of 1933, for which the dictator, who used to say that “vengeance is best when served cold,” never forgave the poet. Just after their arrival, Boris Pasternak was startled to receive a phone call from Stalin - his only conversation with the dictator, in which Stalin wanted to know whether Mandelstam really was a talented poet. At home Mandelstam was taught by tutors and governesses. ‘Osip Mandelstam 1891-1938’ ... causing his father to leap to his death. They were not permitted to say goodbye and she never saw him again. He died from cold and hunger. Mandelstam’s poem, I think, incorporates aspects of both Vergil, Tolstoy and even Lucretius—he reminds us of the energy of a beehive and the sweetness of its honey, but laments the death of such an active, supportive community: Take from my palms, to sooth your heart, a little honey, a little sun, in … Neither he nor Nadezhda had ever risked writing it down, suggesting that one of the trusted friends to whom he recited it had memorised it, and handed a written copy to the police. Interaction as previously understood was now impossible she insisted throughout her life that their had..., while recuperating at a transit camp near Vladivostok on December 27 1938... Of their fate his near namesake Iosif Stalin part of Mandelstam 's parents were Jewish but. 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