Loading

Akhmatova’s favourite test: Who are You?


Who are you: “Tea, dog, Pasternak” or “Coffee, cat, Mandelstam”? Anna Akhmatova was one of the most significant Russian poets of the 20th century. She was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in 1965 and received second-most (three) nominations for the award the following year.


Anna Andreevna Gorenko entered the literature under the pseudonym “Anna Akhmatova”. She was born on 23 June 1889 in Odessa on the Bolshoi Fontan region. Her father, Andrey Antonovich Gorenko, was a Ukrainian naval engineer and descendant from a noble Ukrainian cossack family, and her mother, Inna Erazmovna Stogova, was a descendant from the Russian nobility with close ties to Kiev. On December 29, 1889, Anna Andreevna was baptized in Odessa in the Transfiguration Cathedral on Cathedral Square.

She took the name of her grandmother as a pseudonym, since the father who published his articles was dissatisfied with the complete coincidence of the signature: A.G. Her father, Andrei Antonovich Gorenko, was a merchant marine engineer, a retired captain of the 2nd rank.

Anna Akhmatova lived in our city just a little bit more then a year, until August 1890, but she came to her hometown three times: in 1904, 1906, 1909. In Odessa, in 1904, she wrote her first poems, at the age of 15. She fell in love with the Odessa writer Alexander Mitrofanovich Fedorov. Akhmatova used to live in Lyustdorf region. Her distant relatives are still living in Lustdorf.

All visits of Anna Akhmatova to Odessa were full of significant events for her: 1904 – the first love and the first poems; 1909 – she agreed to become the wife of the poet Nikolai Gumilyov, whom she was married from 1910 to 1918.

A. Akhmatova, by N. Altman. 1914

Anna Akhmatova was an intelligent, perceptive person, quite direct and accurate in her decisions. In addition to her extensive literary heritage Akhmatova left us an interesting psychological test that all her friends, acquaintances and colleagues passed through:

  • tea or coffee?
  • cat or dog?
  • Pasternak or Mandelstam?

It was her favourite test, and it was just that, with no other options.

Based on the answers Akhmatova drew a psychological portrait of the interlocutor. In her typology there were all two diametrically opposite options: “Tea, dog, Pasternak” or “Coffee, cat, Mandelstam.”

Categorically, unambiguously and rather one-sided. However, experience shows that the test is quite accurate. A kind of Akhmatov’s “Yin and Yang”, black and white, simple and complex. Anna Andreevna herself singled out one more criterion: a Moscovite and a Petersburger.

The man “tea, dog, Pasternak” – a “Moscovite”: is a very calm, balanced optimist, unwilling to change his decisions. He is practical, good at business, moderately ambitious.

Among people of this type there are more men: successful businessmen, happy family men. A typical “Moscovite” is straightforward, honest, confident in himself and his decisions.

The man “coffee, cat, Mandelstam” – a “Petersburger”: is a man of emotional throwing.

A pessimist by nature, he tends to exaggerate and dramatise, which is the reason for his constant depression. It is as gloomy and restless as the city on the Neva, shrouded in fog and cold rains. Changing their minds about what is happening like gloves, such people have no plan and no specific purpose in life. They can even sacrifice their morality.

Moreover, to get into one of these categories, it is enough to match only two points of the test. At first glance, the Akhmatov test seems rather limited. But psychologists admit that his results are correct enough.

What would you prefer ?

Akhmatova, by K. Petrov-Vodkin, 1922 | Right: Portrait of Akhmatova, by Yuriy Annenkov, 1921