The beginning of the 20th century in Russian literature is often described as the Silver Age of Russian poetry. In the literature, this period was initially dominated by symbolism and its important representatives, who were mainly propagating l'art-pour-l'art, included the poet Aleksandr Blok (1880-1928) and Andrey Bely (1880-1934), whose novel Saint Petersburg is perhaps the most renowned work. In The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov referred three times to details of the work of the latter.
In 1910 emerged the acmeïst poetry, a movement that rebelled against the symbolism. The acmeist poets sought in their verses for supreme clarity. Acmeism comes from the Greek word ακμή (akmi), which means acme or the best age. The movement started as Цех поэтов (Tsekh poetov) or Guild of Poets, a reference to the medieval guilds. The founders of the Guild were Nikolay Gumilyov (1886-1921, poet and husband of Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), and Sergey Gorodetsky (1884-1967). At first, the group held its meeting in The Stray Dog Cafe in St. Petersburg, an important meeting place for artists and writers at that time. The poem cycle Камень (Kamjen) or The Stone, published by Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) in 1913, is considered the culmination of the efforts acmeist poetry.