History of Literature

Russian literature


Vladimir Voinovich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vladimir Nikolayevich Voinovich (alternatively spelled Voynovich, Russian: Владимир Войнович, born September 26, 1932 in Stalinabad, Tajikstan, Soviet Union) is a prominent Russian writer and a dissident. He is a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Department of Language and Literature.

Voinovich was born to father of Serbian descent, journalist, and mother of Jewish descent, professor of mathematics. His ancestor, Ivo Vojnović, was a prominent Serbian writer from Dubrovnik.

Voinovich is famous for his satiric fiction but also wrote some poetry. While working for Moscow radio in the early 1960s, he produced the lyrics for the cosmonauts' anthem, Fourteen Minutes Till the Start ("14 минут до старта"). Between 1951 and 1955, Voinovich also served in the Soviet Army during peace time.

At the outset of the Brezhnev stagnation period, Voinovich's writings stopped being published in the USSR, but became very popular samizdat and in the West. For his writing and participation in the human rights movement, Voinovich was excluded from the Soviet Writers' Union in 1974, his telephone line was cut off in 1976 and he and his family were forced to emigrate in 1980. He settled in Munich, West Germany and worked for Radio Liberty.

Voinovich helped publish Vasily Grossman's famous novel Life and Fate by smuggling photo films secretly taken by Andrei Sakharov.

Gorbachev restored his Soviet citizenship in 1990 and since then the writer spends most of his time in the new Russia. Widowed in 2004, he now lives in Moscow. Voinovich has a son by his first wife and a daughter, Olga, by his second wife, the recently deceased, Irina. Voinovich has won many international awards and honor titles, such as Sakharov Award (2002), State Award of the Russian Federation (2000) and more. Since 1995 he has ventured into graphic arts and sells his paintings in Russian galleries and on the Web.

His work
His magnum opus The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin ("Жизнь и необычайные приключения солдата Ивана Чонкина") is set in the Red Army during World War II, satirically exposing the daily absurdities of the totalitarian regime. "Chonkin" is now a widely known figure in Russian popular culture and the book was also made into a film by the famous Czech director Jiř Menzel. Chonkin is often referred to as "the Russian Švejk".

In 1986 he wrote a satire novel Moscow 2042. In this novel, Voinovich predicted that Russia will be ruled by the "Communist Party of State Security" which combines the KGB, Russian Orthodox Church and the Communist party. This party is led by a KGB general Bukashin (name literally meaning "the insect") who met main character of the novel in Germany. An extreme Slavophile Sim Karnavalov (apparently inspired by Solzhenitsyn) enters Moscow on a white horse.

His other novels have also won acclaim: Ivankiada, his novel about a writer trying to get an apartment in the bureaucratic clog of the Soviet system. The Fur Hat, is, in many ways, a satire of Gogol's Overcoat. His Monumental Propaganda is a stinging critique of post-Communist Russia, a story that shows the author's opinion that Russians haven't changed much since the days of Stalin.


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