History of Literature

Russian literature



Old Russian literature. (10th–17th centuries)

The 18th century

The 19th century

The Silver Age. (From the 1890s to 1917)

Post-Revolutionary literature

Thaws and freezes


Russian literature

Thaws and freezes

Ilya Ehrenburg
Andrei Sinyavsky
Yuli Daniel

Boris Pasternak "Poems"

Joseph Brodsky
Nobel Lecture  December 8, 1987

Sergei Dovlatov
Vasily Aksyonov
Georgy Vladimov
Vladimir Voynovich
Nadezhda Mandelshtam
Lydia Chukovskaya

Anatoly Kuznetsov
Varlam Shalamov
Vasily Grossman
Valentin Rasputin

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Yury Trifonov

Andrey Bitov
Venedikt Yerofeyev

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn  
"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"

Andrei Amalrik

Alexander Galich
Lev Kopelev
Anatoly Marchenko
Victor Pelevin
Vladimir Sorokin
Dmitry Prigov
Lyudmila Petrushevskaya
Lyudmila Ulitskaya



Thaws and freezes

The years from the death of Stalin until the fall of Nikita Khrushchev in 1964 saw several “thaws” separated by “freezes.” Ilya Ehrenburg’s novel Ottepel (1954; The Thaw) provided this term for a period of relative liberalism. In 1956 Khrushchev delivered a famous speech denouncing certain Stalinist crimes. From that time on, it was possible for Russians to perceive orthodox communists as people of the past and to regard dissidents not as holdovers from before the Revolution but as progressives.

The harsher years under Leonid Brezhnev following Khrushchev’s fall opened with the arrest, trial, and imprisonment of two writers, Andrey Sinyavsky (whose pseudonym was Abram Terts) and Yuly Daniel (pseudonym Nikolay Arzhak), for publishing “anti-Soviet propaganda” abroad. In the years that followed, well-known writers were arrested or, in one way or another, expelled from the Soviet Union, thus generating the third wave of émigré literature.

Ilya Ehrenburg


Ilya Grigoryevich Ehrenburg, (b. Jan. 15 [Jan. 27, New Style], 1891, Kiev, Ukraine, Russian Empire—d. Aug. 31, 1967, Moscow), prolific writer and journalist, one of the most effective Soviet spokesmen to the Western world.

Born into a middle-class Jewish family that later moved to Moscow, Ehrenburg became involved as a youth in revolutionary activity and was arrested in his early teens. He emigrated to Paris, where he began publishing poetry in 1910. During World War I he was a war correspondent at the front, returning to Russia in 1917. He experienced the civil war in Ukraine and, between 1917 and 1921, wavered between supporting and rejecting the Bolsheviks. He returned to Europe, living in France, Belgium, and Germany, and published his first novel—generally considered his best work—the philosophical-satirical Neobychaynyye khozhdeniya Khulio Khurenito i yego uchenikov (1922; The Extraordinary Adventures of Julio Jurenito and His Disciples). By 1924, however, his attitude had changed again, and he was granted permission to return to the Soviet Union. He participated in writers’ meetings and other literary activities in Moscow, and soon afterward was sent back to Europe, this time as foreign editor of several Soviet newspapers. Most of the period from 1936 to 1940 Ehrenburg spent in Spain and France as war correspondent for the newspaper Izvestiya. In 1941 he returned to the Soviet Union, where his Padeniye Parizha (The Fall of Paris)—a bitter attack on the West—was published that year, winning the 1942 Stalin Prize.

Besides his activities as a journalist and novelist, Ehrenburg wrote poetry, short stories, essays, travelogues, and memoirs. After his acceptance of the Soviet regime, he adapted his writing to Soviet literary demands and was successful in avoiding the political purges that destroyed the careers of many other writers and artists. In 1946–47 he won a second Stalin Prize with Burya (The Storm), and in 1951–52 another major novel was published, Devyaty val (The Ninth Wave). Shortly after Joseph Stalin’s death Ehrenburg produced the novel Ottepel (1954; The Thaw), which provoked intense controversy in the Soviet press, and the title of which has become descriptive of that period in Soviet literature. It dealt with Soviet life in a more realistic way than had the officially approved literature of the preceding period. In succeeding years he devoted himself to promoting new and different tendencies in writing. In his autobiography, Lyudi, gody, zhizn (“People, Years, Life”), Ehrenburg ranged over many topics (e.g., Western art) and people (e.g., writers lost in the purges of the 1930s) normally not considered proper material for Soviet authors. This attitude brought official censure upon him in 1963 when the “thaw” began to reverse. But Ehrenburg survived and remained prominent in Soviet literary circles until his death.



Andrei Sinyavsky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andrei Donatovich Sinyavsky (Russian language: Андрей Донатович Синявский) (8 October 1925, Moscow - 25 February 1997, Paris) was a Russian writer, dissident, gulag survivor, emigrant, Professor of Sorbonne University, magazine founder and publisher. He frequently wrote under the pseudonym Абрам Терц (Abram Tertz).

During a time of extreme censorship in the Soviet Union, Sinyavsky published his novels in the West under a pseudonym. The historical Abram Tertz was a Jewish gangster from Russia's past, Sinyavsky himself was not Jewish; his father, Donat Sinyavsky, was a Russian nobleman from Syzran, who turned Social Revolutionary and was arrested several times as an enemy of the people. During his last stay in jail Donat Sinyavsky became ill, and, after his release, developed mental illness. Andrei Sinyavsky described his father's experiences in the novel "Goodnight!"

A protege of Boris Pasternak, Sinyavsky described the realities of Soviet life in short fiction stories. In 1965, he was arrested, along with fellow-writer and friend Yuli Daniel, and tried in the infamous Sinyavsky-Daniel show trial. On February 14, 1966, Sinyavsky was sentenced to seven years on charges of "anti-Soviet activity" for the opinions of his fictional characters.

The affair was accompanied by harsh propaganda campaign in the Soviet media and was perceived as a sign of demise of the Khrushchev Thaw.

As historian Fred Coleman writes, "Historians now have no difficulty pinpointing the birth of the modern Soviet dissident movement. It began in February 1966 with the trial of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, two Russian writers who ridiculed the Communist regime in satires smuggled abroad and published under pen names...Little did they realize at the time that they were starting a movement that would help end Communist rule."

Sinyavsky was released in 1971 and allowed to emigrate in 1973 to France, where he was one of co-founders, together with his wife Maria Rozanova of the Russian-language almanac Sintaksis. He actively contributed to Radio Liberty. He died in 1997 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, near Paris.

Sinyavsky was the catalyst for the formation of an important Russian-English translation team: Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear, who have translated a number of works by Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevski, Nikolai Gogol, Anton Chekhov, and Mikhail Bulgakov. Volokhonsky, who was born and raised in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), first visited the United States in the early 1970s and happened across Pevear's Hudson Review article about Sinyavsky. At the time, Pevear believed Sinyavsky was still in a Russian prison; Volokhonsky had just helped him immigrate to Paris. Pevear was surprised and pleased to be mistaken: "Larissa had just helped Sinyavsky leave Russia," Pevear recalled. "And she let me know that, while I'd said he was still in prison, he was actually in Paris. I was glad to know it."



Yuli Daniel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yuli Markovich Daniel (Russian: Юлий Маркович Даниэль; November 15, 1925 — December 30, 1988) was a Soviet dissident writer, poet, translator, political prisoner and gulag survivor. He frequently wrote under the pseudonyms Nikolay Arzhak (Николай Аржак) and Yu. Petrov (Ю.Петров).

Early life and World War II
Yuli Daniel was born in Moscow into the family of Yiddish playwright M. Daniel (Mark Meyerovich, Russian: Марк Наумович Меерович), who took the pseudonym Daniel. The famous march song of the Soviet young pioneers, "Орленок" (Young Eagle), was originally written for one of his plays. Daniel's uncle, an ardent revolutionary (alias Liberten), was a member of Comintern who perished in the Great Purge.

In 1942, during Great Patriotic War, Daniel lied about his age and volunteered to serve at the front. He fought in the 2nd Ukrainian and the 3rd Belorussian fronts, in 1944 was critically wounded in his legs and demobilized due to his pursuant disability.

Writing and arrest
In 1950, he graduated from Moscow Pedagogical Institute and worked as a school teacher in Kaluga and Moscow regions. He published his poetry translations from a variety of languages. Daniel and his friend Andrei Sinyavsky also wrote satirical novels and smuggled them to France to be published under pseudonyms.

He married Larisa Bogoraz who later also became a famous dissident. In 1965, Daniel and Sinyavsky were arrested and tried in the infamous Sinyavsky-Daniel trial. On February 14, 1966, Daniel was sentenced to five years of hard labor for "anti-Soviet activity". Both writers entered a plea of not guilty, unprecedented in the USSR.

Late years and influence
According to Fred Coleman, "Historians now have no difficulty pinpointing the birth of the modern Soviet dissident movement. It began in February 1966 with the trial of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, two Russian writers who ridiculed the Communist regime in satires smuggled abroad and published under pen names. They didn't realize at the time that they were starting a movement that would help end Communist rule."

After four years of captivity in Mordovia labor camps and one year in Vladimir prison, Daniel refused to emigrate (as was customary among Soviet dissidents) and lived in Kaluga.

Before his death, Bulat Okudzhava acknowledged that some translations published under Okudzhava's name were ghostwritten by Daniel who was on the list of authors banned to be published in the USSR.

Among those who found themselves in the West were Boris Pasternak, Joseph Brodsky, Sergei Dovlatov, Vasily Aksyonov, Georgy Vladimov, Vladimir Voynovich, Nadezhda Mandelshtam, Varlam Shalamov, Vasily Grossman and Aleksandr Zinovyev.

Significant literary works written in the post-Stalin years include Pasternak’s poetic novel set at the time of the Revolution, Doctor Zhivago (first published in Italy in 1957), which sees life’s meaning as transcending politics. Sinyavsky’s book-length essay Chto takoye sotsialistichesky realizm? (1956; On Socialist Realism), attacking Socialist Realist aesthetic doctrine and advocating the use of fantasy, and a number of “phantasmagoric works,” including Lyubimov (1961–62; The Makepeace Experiment), were published abroad. Charged with being the author of these works, Sinyavsky was tried and imprisoned in 1966. Some have considered the transcripts of his trial to be one of his most interesting “works.” After his emigration to France in 1973 he published the novel Spokoynoy nochi (1984; Goodnight!) under the name Terts and Osnovy sovetskoy tsivilizatsii (1989; Soviet Civilization: A Cultural History) under the name Sinyavsky.

Anatoly Kuznetsov was a writer who described his experiences in German-occupied Kiev during WWII in his internationally acclaimed novel Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel. The book was originally published in a censored form in 1966.

Some writers dared to oppose Soviet ideology, like short story writer Varlam Shalamov and Nobel Prize winning novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who wrote about life in the gulag camps, or Vasily Grossman, with his description of World War II events countering the Soviet official historiography. They were dubbed "dissidents" and could not publish their major works until the 1960s.

But the thaw did not last long. In the 1970s, some of the most prominent authors were not only banned from publishing, but were also prosecuted for their Anti-Soviet sentiments or parasitism. Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the country. Others, such as Nobel prize winning poet Joseph Brodsky, novelists Vasily Aksyonov, Eduard Limonov and Sasha Sokolov, and short story writer Sergei Dovlatov, had to emigrate to the US, while Venedikt Yerofeyev and Oleg Grigoriev "emigrated" to alcoholism. Their books were not published officially until perestroika, although fans continued to reprint them manually in a manner called "samizdat" (self-publishing).

Space opera subgenre was less developed, since both state censors and "serious" writers watched it unfavorably. Nevertheless, there were moderately successful attempts to adapt space westerns to Soviet soil. The first was Alexander Kolpakov with "Griada", after came Sergey Snegov with "Men Like Gods", among others. Bulychov, along with his adult books, created children's space adventure series about Alisa Seleznyova, a teenage girl from the future.


Boris Pasternak



Boris Leonidovich Pasternak, (b. Feb. 10 [Jan. 29, Old Style], 1890, Moscow, Russia—d. May 30, 1960, Peredelkino, near Moscow), Russian poet whose novel Doctor Zhivago helped win him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 but aroused so much opposition in the Soviet Union that he declined the honour. An epic of wandering, spiritual isolation, and love amid the harshness of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, the novel became an international best-seller but circulated only in secrecy and translation in his own land.

Pasternak grew up in a cultured Jewish household. His father, Leonid, was an art professor and a portraitist of novelist Leo Tolstoy, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and composer Sergey Rachmaninoff, all frequent guests at his home, and of Lenin. His mother was the pianist Rosa Kaufman.

Young Pasternak himself planned a musical career, though he was a precocious poet. He studied musical theory and composition for six years, then abruptly switched to philosophy courses at Moscow University and the University of Marburg (Germany). Physically disqualified for military service, he worked in a chemical factory in the Urals during World War I. After the Revolution he worked in the library of the Soviet commissariat of education.

His first volume of poetry was published in 1913. In 1917 he brought out a striking second volume, Poverkh baryerov (“Over the Barriers”), and with the publication of Sestra moya zhizn (1922; “My Sister Life”) he was recognized as a major new lyrical voice. His poems of that period reflected Symbolist influences. Though avant-garde and esoteric by Russian standards, they were successful. From 1933 to 1943, however, the gap between his work and the official modes (such as Socialist Realism) was too wide to permit him to publish, and he feared for his safety during the purges of the late 1930s. One theory is that Stalin spared him because Pasternak had translated poets of Stalin’s native Georgia. His translations, which were his main livelihood, included renderings of William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, English Romantic poets, Paul Verlaine, and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Although Pasternak hoped for the best when he submitted Doctor Zhivago to a leading Moscow monthly in 1956, it was rejected with the accusation that “it represented in a libelous manner the October Revolution, the people who made it, and social construction in the Soviet Union.” The book reached the West in 1957 through an Italian publishing house that had bought rights to it from Pasternak and refused to return it “for revisions.” By 1958, the year of its English edition, the book had been translated into 18 languages.

In the Soviet Union, the Nobel Prize brought a campaign of abuse. Pasternak was ejected from the Union of Soviet Writers and thus deprived of his livelihood. Public meetings called for his deportation; he wrote Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, “Leaving the motherland will equal death for me.” Suffering from cancer and heart trouble, he spent his last years in his home at Peredelkino.

Pasternak’s works in English translation include short stories, the autobiographical Okhrannaya gramota (1931; Safe Conduct), and the full range of his poetic output, which ended on a note of gravity and quiet inwardness.

In 1987 the Union of Soviet Writers posthumously reinstated Pasternak, a move that gave his works a legitimacy they had lacked in the Soviet Union since his expulsion from the writers’ union in 1958 and that finally made possible the publication of Doctor Zhivago in the Soviet Union. In addition to effecting Pasternak’s rehabilitation, the review commission, headed by poet Andrey Voznesensky, recommended that Pasternak’s home in Peredelkino be made a museum.



Joseph Brodsky


Nobel Lecture  December 8, 1987


Early years
Brodsky was born into a Jewish family in Leningrad, the son of a professional photographer in the Soviet Navy. In early childhood he survived the Siege of Leningrad. When he was fifteen, Brodsky left school and tried to enter the School of Submariners without success. He went on to work as a milling machine operator. Later, having decided to become a physician, he worked at a morgue at the Kresty prison. He subsequently held a variety of jobs at a hospital, in a ship's boiler room, and on geological expeditions.

At the same time, Brodsky engaged in a program of self-education. He learned English and Polish (mainly to translate poems by Czesław Miłosz, who was Brodsky's favorite poet and a friend), and acquired a deep interest in classical philosophy, religion, mythology, and English and American poetry. Later in life, he admitted that he picked up books from anywhere he could find them, including garbage dumps.

Brodsky began writing his own poetry and producing literary translations around 1957. His writings were apolitical. The young Brodsky was encouraged and influenced by the poet Anna Akhmatova who called some of his verses "enchanting."

In 1963, he was arrested and in 1964 charged with parasitism by the Soviet authorities. A famous excerpt from the transcript of his trial made by journalist Frida Vigdorova was smuggled to the West:

Judge: And what is your profession, in general?
Brodsky: I am a poet and a literary translator.
Judge: Who recognizes you as a poet? Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?
Brodsky: No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of humankind?
Judge: Did you study this?
Brodsky: This?
Judge: How to become a poet. You did not even try to finish high school where they prepare, where they teach?
Brodsky: I didn’t think you could get this from school.
Judge: How then?
Brodsky: I think that it ... comes from God.

For his "parasitism" Brodsky was sentenced to five years of internal exile with obligatory engagement in physical work and served 18 months in the Archangelsk region. His sentence was commuted in 1965 after protests by prominent Soviet and foreign literary figures, including Evgeny Evtushenko, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

In 1964, Leonid Brezhnev came to power. As the Khrushchev Thaw period ended, only four of Brodsky's poems were published in the Soviet Union. He refused to publish his writings under censorship and most of his work has appeared only in the West or in samizdat form.


Brodsky was expelled from the USSR on 4 June 1972 and moved to the United States where he was naturalized in 1977. His first teaching position in the US was at the University of Michigan. He was Poet-in-Residence and Visiting Professor at Queens College, Smith College, Columbia University, and the Cambridge University in England. He was a Five-College Professor of Literature at Mount Holyoke College, brought there by poet and historian Peter Viereck.

In 1978, Brodsky was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at Yale University, and on 23 May 1979, he was inducted as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1981, Brodsky received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "genius" award. He is also a recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.

In 1986, his collection of essays Less Than One won the National Book Critics Award for Criticism. In 1987, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the fifth Russian-born writer to do so. At an interview in Stockholm airport, to the question: "You are an American citizen who is receiving the Prize for Russian-language poetry. Who are you, an American or a Russian?", he responded: "I am Jewish - a Russian poet and an English essayist".

Brodsky held an honorary degree from the University of Silesia and was an honorary member of the International Academy of Science.

In 1991, Brodsky became Poet Laureate of the United States. His inauguration address was printed in Poetry Review.

A recurring theme in Brodsky's writing is the relationship between the poet and society. In particular, Brodsky emphasized the power of literature to positively impact its audience and to develop the language and culture in which it is situated. He suggested that the Western literary tradition was in part responsible for the world having overcome the catastrophes of the twentieth century, such as Nazism, Communism and the World Wars. During his term as the Poet Laureate, Brodsky promoted the idea of bringing the Anglo-American poetic heritage to a wider American audience by distributing free poetry anthologies to the public through a government-sponsored program. This proposal was met with limited enthusiasm in Washington. Much of Brodsky's writing–particularly his essays such as Less Than One–dabbled in existentialist philosophy.

Personal life
Between 1962 and 1964 Brodsky had a relationship with the artist Marina Basmanova which produced a son Andrey. Basmanova refused to marry Brodsky and registered the child under her own surname. Brodsky married Maria Sozzani in 1990. They had one daughter, Anna. Brodsky died of a heart attack in his New York City apartment on January 28, 1996, and was buried in the Episcopalian section at Isola di San Michele cemetery in Venice, Italy (the setting of his book Watermark).

A close friend to fellow Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Brodsky was memorialized in Walcott's poetry collection The Prodigal



Sergei Dovlatov

Sergei Donatovich Dovlatov (Mechik) (Russian: Серге́й Дона́тович Довла́тов (Ме́чик); 3 September 1941, Ufa, USSR – 24 August 1990, New York, USA) was a Russian journalist and writer.

Dovlatov was born on September 3, 1941 in Ufa, Republic of Bashkiria, USSR, where his family had been evacuated during World War II from Leningrad. His mother was an Armenian and his father was Jewish. After 1945 he lived with his mother in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Dovlatov studied at the Finnish Department of Leningrad State University, but flunked after two and a half years. He was drafted into the Soviet Internal Troops and served as a prison guard in high-security camps. Later, he earned his living as a journalist in various newspapers and magazines in Leningrad and then as a correspondent of the Tallinn newspaper "Soviet Estonia". He supplemented his income by being a summer tour guide in the Pushkin preserve, a museum near Pskov. Dovlatov wrote prose fiction, but his numerous attempts to get published in the Soviet Union were in vain. The set of his first book was destroyed under the order of the KGB. In 1976, some stories by Dovlatov had been published in Western Russian-language magazines, including "Continent", "Time and us", resulting in his expulsion from the Union of Journalists of the USSR.

In 1979 Dovlatov emigrated from the Soviet Union with his mother, Nora, and came to live with his wife and daughter in New York, where he later co-edited "The New American", a liberal, Russian-language émigré newspaper. In the mid 80's, Dovlatov finally achieved recognition as a writer, being printed in the prestigious magazine "The New Yorker". Dovlatov died on August 24, 1990 in New York and was buried at the Mount Hebron Cemetery.

Sergei Dovlatov published twelve books in the USA and Europe during his twelve years as an immigrant. In the Soviet Union, the writer was known from Samizdat and Radio Liberty. After his death and the fall of the Soviet Union, numerous collections of his short stories were finally published in Russia.



Vasily Aksyonov


Vasily Pavlovich Aksyonov, Aksyonov also spelled Aksenov (b. Aug. 20, 1932, Kazan, Russia, U.S.S.R.—d. July 6, 2009, Moscow, Russia), Russian novelist and short-story writer, one of the leading literary spokesmen for the generation of Soviets who reached maturity after World War II.

The son of parents who spent many years in Soviet prisons, Aksyonov was raised in a state home and graduated from medical school in 1956. After working for a few years as a doctor, he turned to writing, and in the cultural thaw of the late 1950s and early ’60s he published a number of short stories and novels. His novels Kollegi (1960; Colleagues), Zvezdnyi bilet (1961; A Ticket to the Stars), and Apelsiny iz Morokko (1963; “Oranges from Morocco”) are fast-moving narratives dealing with youthful rebels and misfits in Soviet society. In these books Aksyonov excels in reproducing the racy slang and jargon of characters who are attracted to Western culture even though they share the collectivist ideals of the previous generation.

Aksyonov began incorporating stronger elements of fantasy, satire, and parody in such later novels as Zatovarennaia bochkotara (1968; Surplussed Barrelware) and Ostrov Krym (1981; The Island of Crimea). His independent spirit had incurred the disfavour of the Soviet authorities beginning in the late 1960s. Because of his reputation and his involvement in the attempted publication of Metropol, an uncensored literary journal, in 1980 he was forced into exile in the West. His citizenship was restored by decree in 1990, and he later lived in Moscow.

One of his most important later novels was Ozhog (1980; The Burn), an anarchic blend of memory, fantasy, and realistic narrative in which the author tries to sum up Russian intellectuals’ spiritual responses to their homeland. Another, Skazhi izyum (1985; Say Cheese!), is an irreverent portrait of Moscow’s intellectual community during the last years of Leonid Brezhnev’s leadership. Pokolenie zimy (Generations of Winter, 1994) chronicles the fate of a family of intellectuals at the hands of the Soviet regime during the period of Stalin’s rule.



Georgi Vladimov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georgi Nikolaevich Vladimov (Volosevich) (February 19 1931 Kharkiv, Ukraine - October 19 2003 Frankfurt, Germany) was a Russian dissident writer.

In 1977 he became the leader of the Moscow section of Amnesty International, forbidden in the USSR.

Vladimov's most famous novel was Faithful Ruslan (English translation: 1979, ISBN 067124633X), the tale of Ruslan, a guard dog in a Soviet Gulag labor camp, told by the dog.

His novel General i yego armiya (“The General and His Army”), on General Vlasov, was awarded the Russian Booker Prize in 1995 and Sakharov Prize in 2000.



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 Jiří 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.



Nadezhda Mandelstam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nadezhda Yakovlevna Mandelstam (Russian: Надежда Яковлевна Мандельштам, née Hazin; 31 October 1899 — 29 December 1980) was a Russian writer and a wife of poet Osip Mandelstam.

Born in Saratov into a middle-class Jewish family, she spent her early years in Kiev. After the gymnasium she studied art.

After their marriage in 1921, Nadezhda and Osip Mandelstam lived in Ukraine, Petrograd, Moscow, and Georgia. Osip was arrested in 1934 for his Stalin Epigram and exiled with Nadezhda to Cherdyn, in the Perm region and later to Voronezh.

After Osip Mandelstam's second arrest and his subsequent death at a transit camp "Vtoraya Rechka" near Vladivostok in 1938, Nadezhda Mandelstam led an almost nomadic way of life, dodging her expected arrest and frequently changing places of residence and temporary jobs. On at least one occasion, in Kalinin, the NKVD came for her the next day after she fled.

As her mission in life, she set to preserve and publish her husband's poetic heritage. She managed to keep most of it memorized because she didn't trust paper.

After the death of Stalin, Nadezhda Mandelstam completed her dissertation (1956) and was allowed to return to Moscow (1958).

In her memoirs, Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned, first published in the West, she gives an epic analysis of her life and criticizes the moral and cultural degradation of the Soviet Union of the 1920s and later. The titles of her memoirs are puns, Nadezhda in Russian meaning 'hope'.

In 1979 she gave her archives to Princeton University. Nadezhda Mandelstam died in 1980 in Moscow, aged 81.




Lydia Chukovskaya

Tea party in the Sakharov kitchen:
Andrei Sakharov, Ruth Bonner,
and Lydia Chukovskaya, 1976.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lydia Korneievna Chukovskaya (Russian: Лидия Корнеевна Чуковская) (24 March [O.S. 11 March] 1907 – February 8, 1996) was a Soviet writer and poet.

Her deeply personal writings reflect the human cost of Soviet totalitarianism, and she devoted much of her career to defending dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. She was herself the daughter of the celebrated children's writer Korney Chukovsky, wife of the scientist Matvei Bronstein, and close associate and chronicler of the poet Anna Akhmatova.

Early life
Lydia Chukovskaya was born in 1907 in Helsingfors (present-day Helsinki) in the Grand Duchy of Finland, then a part of the Russian Empire. Her father was Korney Chukovsky, a poet who is regarded today as perhaps the best-loved children's writer in Russian literature.

She grew up in St Petersburg, the former capital of the empire torn by war and revolution. Chukovsky recorded that his daughter would muse on the problem of social justice while she was still a little girl. But Lydia's greatest passion was literature, especially poetry. It could hardly have been otherwise, given her pedigree and circumstances — their house was frequently visited by leading members of the Russian literati, such as Blok, Gumilyov and Akhmatova. The city was also home to the country's finest artists — Lydia saw Chaliapin perform at the opera, for instance, and also met the painter Ilya Repin.

Lydia got into trouble with the Bolshevik authorities at an early age, when one of her friends used her father's typewriter to print an anti-Bolshevik leaflet. Lydia was exiled to the city of Saratov for a short period, but the experience did not make her particularly political. Indeed, upon her return from exile, she returned to Leningrad's literary world, joining the state publishing house in 1927 as an editor of children's books. Her mentor there was Samuil Marshak, perhaps her father's biggest rival in Russian children's literature. Her first literary work, a short story entitled Leningrad-Odessa, was published around this time, under the pseudonym "A. Uglov".

Soon, Chukovskaya fell in love with a brilliant young physicist of Jewish origin, by the name of Matvei Bronstein. The two got married. In the late 1930s, Stalin's Great Terror enveloped the land. Chukovskaya's employer came under attack for being too "bourgeois", and a number of its authors were arrested and executed. Matvei Bronstein also became one of Stalin's many victims. He was arrested in 1937 on a false charge and, unknown to his wife, was tried and executed in February 1938. Chukovskaya too would have been arrested, had she not been away from Leningrad at the time.

Later life and career
For several years, her life was to remain nomadic and precarious. She was separated from her daughter Yelena, and kept in the dark about her husband's fate. In 1939-40, while she waited in vain for news, Chukovskaya wrote Sofia Petrovna, a harrowing story about life during the Great Purges. But it was a while before this story would achieve widespread recognition. Out of favour with the authorities, yet principled and uncompromising, Chukovskaya was unable to hold down any kind of steady employment. But gradually, she started to get published again: an introduction to the works of Taras Shevchenko, another one for the diaries of Miklouho-Maclay.

By the time of Stalin's death in 1953, Chukovskaya had become a respected figure within the literary establishment, as one of the editors of the cultural monthly Literaturnaya Moskva. During the late 1950s, Sofia Petrovna finally made its way through Russia's literary circles, in manuscript form through samizdat. Khrushchev's Thaw set in, and the book was about to be published in 1963, but was stopped at the last moment for containing "ideological distortions". Indomitable as ever, Chukovskaya sued the publisher for full royalties and won. The book was eventually published in Paris in 1965, but without the author's permission and under the somewhat inaccurate title The Deserted House. There were also some unauthorized alterations to the text. The following year, a New York publisher published it again, this time with the original title and text restored.

Chukovskaya was a lifelong friend of Anna Akhmatova, and her next major work Spusk pod Vodu (Descent Into Water) described, in diary form, the precarious experiences of Akhmatova and Mikhail Zoshchenko. This book too was banned from publication in her native land. In 1964, Chukovskaya spoke out against the persecution of the young Joseph Brodsky; she would do so again for Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. She wrote a series of letters in support of Solzhenitsyn; these were published in Munich in 1970.

In supporting Soviet dissidents, Chukovskaya lost her own right to publish inside Russia. Although the KGB monitored her closely, it is thought that the Soviet state refrained from meting out harsher punishment, because of her reputation in the West but also because of her father’s indisputable stature in Russian culture.

Her relationship with Akhmatova was the subject of two more books. Throughout her life, Chukovskaya also wrote poems of an intensely personal nature, touching upon her life, her lost husband, and the tragedy of her people.

In her old age, she shared her time between Moscow and her father’s dacha in Peredelkino, a village that was the home to many writers including Boris Pasternak. She died in Peredelkino in February 1996.

Sofia Petrovna became legally available for the Soviet readers only in February 1988 after it was published in the magazine Neva. This publication made possible publications of the other Lydia Chukovskaya’s works as Chukovskaya explicitly forbade any publications of her fiction in the Soviet Union before an official publication of Sofia Petrovna




Anatoly Kuznetsov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anatoly Vasilievich Kuznetsov (Russian: Анатолий Кузнецов; August 18, 1929, Kiev–June 13, 1979, London) was a Russian language Soviet writer who described his experiences in German-occupied Kiev during WWII in his internationally acclaimed novel Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel. The book was originally published in a censored form in 1966 in the Russian language.

Career in the USSR
Kuznetsov was born to a Russian father and a Ukrainian mother, his passport stated that he was Russian. He grew up in the Kiev district of Kurenivka, in his own words "a stone's throw from a vast ravine, whose name, Babi Yar, was once known only to locals." At the age fourteen, Kuznetsov began recording in a notebook everything he saw as a witness and heard about the Babi Yar massacre. Once his mother discovered and read his notes. She cried and advised him to save them for a book he might write someday.

Before becoming a writer, Kuznetsov "studied ballet and acting, tried painting and music, worked as a carpenter, road builder, concrete worker, helped build the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant on the Dniper river, and worked on the Irkutsk and Bratsk hydroelectric power plants in Siberia." In 1955, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Eventually, he began "studying to become a writer" and enrolled at the Moscow Gorky Literary Institute.

In 1957, literary magazine Yunost featured his novella entitled Continuation of a Legend. Kuznetsov described his first experience with publishers as follows:

"I wrote the novella ‘Continuation of a Legend’ and offered it to Yunost magazine. It tells the story of a young man, who came to work in Siberia with a solid youthful belief in something better, in some ultimate good, despite all the hardships and poverty. The Yunost editors liked the novella very much but said they couldn’t publish it: the censors wouldn’t allow it, the magazine would be closed, and I would be arrested or, in the worst case, barred from literature for life. Above all, Western propagandists might pick up this story and run with it: ‘See, this is proof of how terrible life in the Soviet Union really is!’ Experienced writers told me that the novella could be saved, that at least a part of it must be brought to the readers’ attention, that they would know what came from the heart and what I had to write for form’s sake, and that I should add some optimistic episodes. For a long time my novella gathered dust without any hope of being published, but eventually I forced myself to add some optimistic episodes, which contrasted so sharply with the overall style and were so outrageously cheerful that no reader would take them seriously."

The novella was turned down, but eventually was published in a heavily censored form and without author's approval. It was this version that earned him a countrywide fame. He graduated in 1960 and was admitted to the USSR Union of Writers and, by extension, to the State Literary Fund. In the 1960s he became famous as one of the country's most talented and progressive writers, the father of the genre of confessional prose.

He married Iryna Marchenko and was preparing to become a father. Soon he and his pregnant wife moved to Tula.

The novel Babi Yar, published in Yunost in 1966[2], cemented Anatoly Kuznetsov's fame. The novel included the previously unknown materials about the execution of 33,771 Jews in the course of two days, September 29-30, 1941, in the Kiev ravine Babi Yar. The uncensored work included materials highly critical of the Soviet regime. Working on it was not easy. Kuznetsov recalled: "For a whole month in Kiev I had nightmares, which wore me out so much that I had to leave without finishing my work and temporarily switch to other tasks in order to regain my senses." In a recently published letter to the Israeli journalist, writer, and translator Shlomo Even-Shoshan dated May 17, 1965, Kuznetsov commented on the Babi Yar tragedy:

"Before September 29, 1941, Jews were slowly being murdered in camps behind a veneer of legitimacy. Treblinka, Auschwitz, etc. came later. Since Babyn Yar murder became commonplace. I trust you know how they did this. They published an order for all the Jews in the city to gather in the vicinity of the freight yard with their belongings and valuables. Then they surrounded them and began shooting them. Countless Russians, Ukrainians, and other people, who had come to see their relatives and friends “off to the train,” died in the swarm. They didn’t shoot children but buried them alive, and didn’t finish off the wounded. The fresh earth over the mass graves was alive with movement. In the two years that followed, Russians, Ukrainians, Gypsies, and people of all nationalities were executed in Babyn Yar. The belief that Babyn Yar is an exclusively Jewish grave is wrong, and Yevtushenko portrayed only one aspect of Babyn Yar in his poem. It is an international grave. Nobody will ever determine how many and what nationalities are buried there, because 90% of the corpses were burned, their ashes scattered in ravines and fields."

A shortened version of the novel was republished in 1967 in Russian by "Moloda Gvardiya" publishing house in shortened form without the authors permission.

After defection
Soon after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Kuznetsov defected from the USSR to the United Kingdom. His pretext for traveling abroad was to do research for his new book on Lenin's stay in Britain. He managed to smuggle 35-mm photographic film containing the uncensored manuscript.

He arrived in London on a two-week visa, accompanied by Georgy Andjaparidze, a suspected KGB "mamka", a secret police agent. Kuznetsov managed to trick Andjapazidze by saying he wanted to find a prostitute and instead ran for the nearest British government office. There he was connected over the phone with David Floyd, a Russian-speaking journalist and the Daily Telegraph's Soviet expert. Risking being caught, Kuznetsov returned to the hotel to pick up his manuscripts, his favorite typewriter and Cuban cigars.

Home Secretary James Callaghan and Prime Minister Harold Wilson decided to grant Kuznetsov an unlimited residence visa in the UK. Shortly after the public announcement of the British decision, Soviet Ambassador Mikhail Smirnovsky demanded the author's return, but Callaghan refused. Two days later, Smirnovsky called on Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart and asked that Soviet diplomats be allowed to see Kuznetsov, but Kuznetsov refused to meet with his countrymen. Instead, he wrote a declaration of his reasons for leaving and three letters: one to the Soviet government, another to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and a third to the USSR Union of Writers.

Sunday Telegraph published David Floyd’s interview with Kuznetsov, who spoke about his ties with the KGB, how he was recruited, and how he had formally agreed to cooperate in order to be allowed to leave abroad.

Babi Yar was published in the West in 1970 under pseudonym A. Anatoli. In that edition, the censored Soviet version was put in regular type, the content cut by censors in heavier type and newly added material was in brackets. In the foreword to the edition by the New York-based publishing house Posev Kuznetsov wrote:

"In the summer of 1969 I escaped from the USSR with photographic films, including films containing the unabridged text of Babi Yar. I am publishing it as my first book free of all political censorship, and I am asking you to consider this edition of Babi Yar as the only authentic text. It contains the text published originally, everything that was expurgated by the censors, and what I wrote after the publication, including the final stylistic polish. Finally, this is what I wrote."

During Kuznetsov's emigre years, he worked for Radio Liberty, traveled a great deal, but did not write anything for ten years.

Kuznetzov died in London in 1979 from his third heart attack.




Varlam Shalamov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov (Russian: Варла́м Ти́хонович Шала́мов; June 18, 1907–January 17, 1982), baptized as Varlaam, was a Russian writer, journalist, poet and Gulag survivor.

Early life
Varlam Shalamov was born in Vologda, Vologda Governorate, a Russian city with a rich culture famous for its wooden architecture, to a family of a hereditary Russian Orthodox priest and teacher, Father Tikhon Nikolayevich Shalamov, a graduate of the Vologda Seminary. At first young Shalamov was named and baptized after the patron of Vologda, Saint Varlaam Khutinskiy (1157-1210); Shalamov later changed his name to the more common Varlam. Shalamov's mother, Nadezhda (Nadia) Aleksandrovna, was a teacher as well. She also enjoyed poetry, and Varlam speculated that she could have become a poet if not for her family. His father worked as a missionary in Alaska for 12 years from 1892, and Varlam's older brother, Sergei, grew up there (he volunteered for World War I and was killed in action in 1917); they returned as events were heating up in Russia by 1905. In 1914, Varlam entered the gymnasium of St. Alexander's and graduated in 1923. After the October Revolution the Soviet regime confiscated Shalamov's house that stands right behind the local church to this day.

Upon his graduation it became clear that the Regional Department of People's Education (RONO, Regionalnoe Otdelenie Narodnogo Obrazovania) would not support his further education because Varlam was a son of a priest. Therefore he found a job as a tanner at the leather factory in the settlement of Kuntsevo (since 1960 part of the Moscow city). In 1926, after having worked for two years, he was accepted into the department of Soviet Law at Moscow State University through open competition. While studying there Varlam was intrigued by the oratory skills displayed during the debates between Anatoly Lunacharsky and Metropolitan Alexander Vvedensky. At that time Shalamov was convinced that he would become a literature specialist.

First arrest
Shalamov joined a Trotskyist-leaning group and on February 19, 1929, was arrested and sent to Butyrskaya prison for solitary confinement. He was later sentenced to three years of correctional labor in the town of Vizhaikha, convicted of distributing the "Letters to the Party Congress" known as Lenin's Testament, which were critical of Stalin, and of participating in a demonstration marking the tenth anniversary of the Soviet revolution with the slogan "Down with Stalin." Courageously he refused to sign the sentence branding him a criminal. By train he was taken to the former Solikamsk monastery (Solikamsk), which was transformed into a militsiya headquarters of the Visher department of Solovki ITL OGPU (VishLAG). It was here that Shalamov truly realized what the Soviet government was all about and it was here the security guards returned him to the reality of life from the revolutionary euphoria that took Russia as a hostage. Shalamov was released in 1931 and worked in the new town of Berezniki, Perm Oblast at the local chemical plant construction site. He was given the opportunity to travel to Kolyma for colonization. Sarcastically, Shalamov said that he would go there only under enforced escort, but, ironically, fate would hold him to his promise later. He returned to Moscow in 1932, where he worked as a journalist and managed to see some of his essays and articles published, including his first short story "The three deaths of Doctor Austino" (1936).

Second arrest
At the outset of the Great Purge, on January 12, 1937, Shalamov was arrested again for "counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities" and sent to Kolyma, also known as "the land of white death," for five years. He was already in jail awaiting sentencing when one of his short stories was published in the literary journal Literary Contemporary. In 1943 he was sentenced to another term, this time for 10 years, under Article 58 (anti-Soviet agitation): the crime was calling Ivan Bunin a "classic Russian writer." The conditions he endured were extreme, first in gold mining operations, and then in coal mining. He was repeatedly sent to punishment zones, both for his political "crimes" and for his attempt to escape. There he managed to survive while sick with typhus of which Shalamov was not aware until he became well. At that time as he recollects in his writings that he did not care much about his survival.

In 1946, while becoming a dokhodyaga (an emaciated and devitalized state), in Russian literally means the one who's moving towards the ultimate end, his life was saved by a doctor-inmate A.I. Pantyukhov, who risked his own life to get Shalamov a place as a camp hospital attendant. The new "career" allowed Shalamov to survive and concentrate on a poetry.

After release
In 1951 Shalamov was released from the camp, and continued working as a medical assistant for the forced labor camps of SevvostokLAG while still writing. In 1952 he sent his poetry to Boris Pasternak, who praised Shalamov's work. After his release he was faced with the dissolution of his former family, including a grown-up daughter who now refused to recognize her father.

Shalamov was allowed to leave Magadan in November 1953 following the death of Stalin in March of that year, and was permitted to go to the village of Turkmen in Kalinin Oblast, near Moscow, where he worked as a supply agent.

Life as Novelist and Kolyma Tales
Beginning in 1954, and continuing until 1973, he worked on his book of short stories of labour camp life, Kolyma Tales.

During the Khrushchev thaw, enormous numbers of inmates were released from the GULAG and rehabilitated, many posthumously. Shalamov was allowed to return to Moscow after having been officially rehabilitated in 1956. In 1957, he became a correspondent for the literary journal Moskva, and his poetry began to be published. His health, however, had been broken by his years in the camps, and he received an invalid's pension.

Shalamov proceeded to publish poetry and essays in the major Soviet literary magazines while writing his magnum opus, Kolyma Tales. He was acquainted with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Boris Pasternak, and Nadezhda Mandelstam. The manuscripts of Kolyma Tales were smuggled abroad and distributed via samizdat. The translations were published in the West in 1966. The complete Russian-language edition was published in London in 1978, and reprinted thereafter both in Russian and in translation. Kolyma Tales is considered to be one of the great Russian collections of short stories of the twentieth century.

Gospodin Solzhenitsyn, I willingly accept Your funeral joke on the account of my death. With the feeling of honor and pride I consider myself the first Cold War victim which have fallen from Your hand … From the undispatched letter of V.T.Shalamov to A.I.Solzhenitsyn

In addition, he wrote a series of autobiographical essays that vividly bring to life Vologda and his life before prison.

Retraction controversy and death
The Western publishers always provided the disclaimer that Shalamov's stories were being published without the author's knowledge or consent. Surprisingly, in 1972 Shalamov retracted the Tales, most likely being forced to do so by the Soviet regime. As his health deteriorated, he spent the last three years of his life in a house for elderly and disabled literary workers in Tushino. Shalamov died on January 17, 1982, and was interred at Kuntsevo Cemetery, Moscow.

The book was finally published on Russian soil in 1987, as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost policy. Selections from Kolyma Tales are now mandatory reading for high school children in the Russian Federation.

In 1980s his family's house still was standing next to the town's cathedral. Since 1991 the house has been turned into the Shalamov's Memorial Museum as well as the local picture gallery. The cathedral's hill in Vologda is called Shalamov's in his memory.

One of his Kolyma short stories, "The Final Battle of Major Pugachoff," was made into a film (Последний бой майора Пугачёва) in 2005.

A minor planet 3408 Shalamov discovered by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1977 is named after him. A memorial to Shalamov was erected in Krasnovishersk in June 2007, the site of his first labor camp.

His funeral was attended by some 150 people. At his burial site the Shalamov's friend, Fedot Fedotovich Suchkov, has erected a monument, which in the year of 2000 was destroyed by somebody unknown. The criminal case was closed as uncompleted. With the help of some workers from SeverStal the monument was reestablished in 2001.

Thanks to the Soviet regime the name of Shalamov is now illogically associated with something of a former outlaw while he was, in fact, the son of a hereditary priest. The gratitude should also be extended for the state's support for his goal in life. Due to that his works contain an enormous deal of bitterness towards people and the government.



Vasily Grossman

Vasily Grossman with the Red Army in Schwerin, Germany (1945)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vasily Semyonovich Grossman (first name alternatively spelled as Vassily or Vasiliy, Russian: Василий Семёнович Гроссман, Ukrainian: Василь Семенович Гроссман), December 12, 1905 – September 14, 1964, was a prominent Soviet-era writer and journalist.

Early life and career
Born Iosif Solomonovich Grossman in Berdychiv, Russian Empire (today in Ukraine) into an emancipated Jewish family, he did not receive a traditional Jewish education. A Russian nanny turned his name Yossya into Russian Vasya (a diminutive of Vasily), which was accepted by the whole family. His father had social-democratic convictions and joined the Mensheviks. Young Vasily Grossman idealistically supported the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Grossman began writing short stories while studying at Moscow State University and later continued his literary activity working as an engineer in the Donbass. One of his first short stories, In the town of Berdichev (В городе Бердичеве), drew favorable attention and encouragement from Maxim Gorky and Mikhail Bulgakov. The movie Comissar (director Aleksandr Askoldov), made in 1967, suppressed by the KGB and released only in October 1990, is based on this four-page story.

In the mid-1930s Grossman left his job as an engineer and committed himself fully to writing. By 1936 he had published two collections of stories, and in 1937 was accepted into the privileged Union of Writers. During the Great Purge some of his friends and close relatives were arrested, including his common-law wife. For months he petitioned the authorities to release her, which happened in 1938.

War reporter
Vasily Grossman with the Red Army in Schwerin, Germany (1945)When Nazi-Germany invaded the Soviet-Union in 1941 and the Great Patriotic War broke out, Grossman's mother was trapped in Berdychiv by the invading German army, and eventually murdered together with 20,000 to 30,000 other Jews who did not evacuate Berdychiv. Grossman was exempt from military service, but volunteered for the front, where he spent more than 1,000 days. He became a war reporter for the popular Red Army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star). As the war raged on, he covered its major events, including the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, and the Battle of Berlin. In addition to war journalism, his novels (such as The People are Immortal (Народ бессмертен)) were being published in newspapers and he came to be regarded as a legendary war hero. The novel Stalingrad (1950), later renamed For a Just Cause (За правое дело), is based on his own experiences during the siege.

Grossman's descriptions of Nazi ethnic cleansing in German occupied Ukraine and Poland, and the liberation by the Red Army of the Nazi-German Treblinka and Majdanek extermination camps, were some of the first eyewitness accounts —as early as 1943—of what later became known as the Holocaust. His article The Hell of Treblinka 1944) was disseminated at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal as evidence for the prosecution.

Conflict with the Soviet regime
Grossman participated in the assembly of the Black Book, a project of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to document the crimes of the Holocaust. The post-war suppression of the Black Book by the Soviet state shook him to the core, and he began to question his own loyal support of the Soviet regime. First the censors ordered changes in the text to conceal the specifically anti-Jewish character of the atrocities and to downplay the role of Ukrainians who worked with the Nazis as police. Then, in 1948, the Soviet edition of the book was scrapped completely. The poet Semyon Lipkin, Grossman's friend, believed it was Joseph Stalin's post-war antisemitic campaign that cracked Grossman's belief in the Soviet system:

In 1946... I met some close friends, an Ingush and a Balkar, whose families had been deported to Kazakhstan during the war. I told Grossman and he said: "Maybe it was necessary for military reasons." I said: "...Would you say that if they did it to the Jews?" He said that could never happen. Some years later, a virulent article against cosmopolitanism appeared in Pravda. Grossman sent me a note saying I had been right after all. For years Grossman didn't feel very Jewish. The campaign against cosmopolitanism reawoke his Jewishness.

Grossman also criticized collectivization and political repressions of peasants that led to Holodomor tragedy. He wrote that "The decree [about grain procurement] required that the peasants of the Ukraine, the Don and the Kuban be put to death by starvation, put to death along with their little children"

Because of state persecution, only a few of Grossman's post-war works were published during his lifetime. After he submitted for publication his magnum opus, the novel Life and Fate (Жизнь и судьба, 1959), the KGB raided his apartment. The manuscripts, carbon copies, notebooks, as well as the typists' copies and even the typewriter ribbons were seized.

With the "Thaw period" underway after the death of Stalin, Grossman wrote to Nikita Khrushchev: "What is the point of me being physically free when the book I dedicated my life to is arrested... I am not renouncing it... I am requesting freedom for my book." The Politburo ideology chief Mikhail Suslov told Grossman that his book could not be published for at least three hundred years:

I have not read your novel but I have carefully read the reviews of your manuscript, responses to it, which contain many excerpts from your novel. Look how many quotes from them I have written down....Why should we add your book to the atomic bombs that our enemies are preparing to launch against us? . . . Why should we publish your book and begin a public discussion as to whether anyone needs the Soviet Union or not?

Life and Fate, as well as his last major novel, Forever Flowing (Все течет, 1961), were considered a threat to the totalitarian regime, and the dissident writer was effectively transformed into a nonperson. Forever Flowing, in particular, is unique in its quiet, unforced, and yet horrifying condemnation of the Soviet totalitarian state, a work in which Grossman, liberated from worries about censors, spoke honestly about Soviet history. Grossman died of stomach cancer in 1964, not knowing whether his novels would ever be read by the public.

Memorial plaque in Donetsk where Grossman lived and worked in the 1930sLife and Fate was published in 1980 in Switzerland, thanks to fellow dissidents: physicist Andrei Sakharov secretly photographed draft pages preserved by Semyon Lipkin, and the writer Vladimir Voinovich managed to smuggle the photographic films abroad. Two dissident reserchers, professors and writers, Efim Etkind and Shimon Markish retyped the text from the microfilm, with, of course, some mistakes and misreadings due to the bad quality. The book was finally published on Russian soil in 1988 after the policy of glasnost was initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev. The text was again published in 1989, because after the first publication some original manuscripts had emerged from the oblivion. Forever Flowing was published in the Soviet Union also in 1989.

Life and Fate is considered to be an autobiographical work. Robert Chandler, the novel's English translator, has written in his introduction to the Harvill edition that its leading character, Viktor Shtrum, "is a portrait of the author himself," reflecting in particular his anguish at the murder of his mother at the Berdichev Ghetto. Chapter 18, a letter from Shtrum's mother, Anna, has been dramatized for the stage and film The Last Letter (2002), directed by Frederick Wiseman, and starring Catherine Samie. Chandler additionally suggests that the character of Shtrum is based on the physicist Lev Landau.

Some critics have compared Grossman's novels to Leo Tolstoy's monumental prose.



Aleksandr Zinovyev


Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Zinovyev (Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Зино́вьев; October 29, 1922 – May 10, 2006, Russia) was an internationally recognised Russian logician, sociologist and writer.

Son of a poor Russian peasant, Zinovyev distinguished himself as a fighter pilot in the Second World War, and later as a scientist, having earned a professor’s title and international recognition in the field of logic. After that, in the 1970s he voluntarily sacrificed his social standing by voicing a critical attitude to the political system of the Soviet Union, and eventually facing exile in 1978 for having published his novels The Yawning Heights and The Radiant Future. He continued to develop his ideas about society and projected them in his writings, at times employing his original genre of the sociological novel.

While there is no general agreement on Aleksandr Zinovyev’s political views and their shift over time, he always asserted the need for a logically consistent theory for the study of human society, that should be devoid of ideology and vague clichés. He proposed his logical sociology as a foundation for such a theory.


Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Zinovyev was born in the village of Pakhtino, Chukhlomsky District, Kostroma Oblast as the sixth child to Aleksandr Yakovlevich and Appolinariya Vasilyevna. A few years after Aleksandr’s birth they moved to Moscow, seeking better quality of life.

Zinovyev excelled at school, and in 1939 he entered the Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History of Moscow. He was soon expelled for a critical attitude to forced collectivisation, and even was forbidden to enter any other institute. He claims that he was arrested but then managed to escape, and later involved in a plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin during a school parade (the plan was called off). He joied the Red Army in 1940 and took part in the Great Patriotic War as tankist and fighter pilot, receiving many medals for a distinguished flight record.

Scientific work in Moscow
Zinovyev entered Moscow State University; he later told that his ban from higher education was overlooked for a bribe — a box of sweets. He graduated in 1951 summa cum laude with a thesis on logical structure of Marx’ Das Kapital (the thesis was only published in Russia in 2002). During the following decades he became one of the most important logicians of the USSR.

Alexander Zinovyev wrote many articles and books on logic (especially multivalued logic) and methodology of science and was often invited to international conferences, yet the authorities never let him attend. As professor and the chairman of Moscow State University Logic Department, Zinovyev got the reputation of a pro-dissident since he refused to expel dissident professors. In a gesture of protest against Brezhnev’s cult of personality, he resigned from the editorial board of Voprosy Filosofii (“Problems of Philosophy”), the leading journal on philosophy of the time.

The sociological novel
Various fictional, often satirical, stories he wrote about the Soviet society agglomerated into his first major work of fiction, Yawning Heights. After the release of the book in Switzerland in 1976, Zinovyev was demoted from his lecturer’s position, evicted from the Academy of Sciences, rescinded of all awards including his war medals, and finally expelled from Soviet Union after his second novel of a similar satirical style, The Radiant Future, was published in the West in 1978. He settled in Munich where he lived until 1999.

Yawning Heights was the first in a series of Zinovyev’s fictional works that are recognised to belong in the original genre that he has called the sociological novel. Yawning Heights was a success, being soon translated into most major European languages and read aloud in Russian via Western radio broadcasts. Such novels describe fictional situations with much focus on aspects that are socially significant. Characters, who vary in their personal qualities and social positions, discuss their life in the society, being allowed by the author to voice different opinions on divers issues. Zinovyev admits that much misunderstanding of his ideas arises from undue confusion of his point of view with those of his characters.

Sociological work in exile
Among Zinovyev’s non-fictional works from that time are Without Illusions (1979), We and the West (1981), Communism as a Reality (1981), Gorbachevism (1987). The latter was first published in French, 1987 (Lausanne, L'Âge d'homme). Without Illusions is a collection of essays, lectures, and broadcasts by Zinovyev. He explained thereby his way of interpretation of the Communist society, while expressing loyalty to the scientific method. Zinovyev postulated that the Western powers had underestimated the threat of Communism, especially the peaceful infiltration of Communist traits into the Western society. He claimed that Communism did not destroy and principally could not have destroyed the social differences among the people, but had only changed the forms of inequality. Zinovyev emphasised his view that the Soviet regime’s peculiarities were not irrational in essence, nor result of some incidental circumstances. Rather, he would assert, they followed from “laws of society” and based on mainly rational and calculated decisions of its participants. However, Zinovyev was one of the most outspoken critics of the Soviet regime until the era of Perestroyka. Unlike Solzhenitsyn, who sought a kind of revival of pre-1917 Russia, Zinovyev dismissed the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church and of Russian nationalism.

After the “Catastroika”
Zinovyev ceased to criticise Communism at the very dawn of Perestroika, before the upsurge of crime and socio-economic problems that Russia faced in the 1990s. He became sympathetic to some aspects of the Soviet regime, and most radically condemned the reforms initiated by Boris Yeltsin. He argues that the West was the key influence in the Union's downfall: “Headed by the United States (a global supersociety located in the USA), the West has purposely implemented a program for destroying Russia”. In 1996, he appealed to the public to support Gennady Zyuganov, a Communist candidate who eventually lost the presidential election to Yeltsin. According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Zinovyev spoke of collectivisation in the USSR as of a “long-awaited gift to the Russian peasantry”.

Return to Russia
After 21 years of exile, Aleksandr Zinovyev returned to Russia in 1999, declaring that he could no longer live “in the camp of those who are destroying my country and my people”. He approved of Yugoslavia’s anti-Western leader Slobodan Milošević and visited him. Regarding Joseph Stalin, Zinovyev declared: “I consider him one of the greatest persons in the history of mankind. In the history of Russia he was, in my opinion, even greater than Lenin. Until Stalin’s death I was anti-Stalinist, but I always regarded him as an outstanding personality.”

In his online interview, Zinovyev maintained that all the accusations brought against Milošević were mere slander; he also declared that he admired Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladić, whom he regards as significant and brave persons of the 20th century. Zinovyev was a co-chairman of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic.

Zinovyev was opposed to globalisation, which he likened to a “Third World War”. He was also fervently critical of the United States’ role in the world, regarding them as more dangerous to Russia than Nazi Germany.

Zinovyev was married three times and had several children. On May 10, 2006, Aleksandr Zinovyev died of brain cancer.

Study of the Western world’s society
In his later non-fictional works (and the sociological novel The Global Humant Hill), Zinovyev analyses the post-Soviet and modern Western social formations, arguing, among other things, that such concepts as 'democracy', 'capitalism', 'communism', 'free market', 'liberalism', 'society', 'totalitarianism' do not grasp the actual social phenomena of the modern society.

Zinovyev repeatedly asserted the decline of significance of the nation-state framework, and the recent (post-World War II) emergence of a new phenomenon of what he calls a supersociety (Russian: сверхобщество). The supersocial traits arise due to the exhaustion of the fundamental “evolutionary limit” of the usual societies (like nation-states, although with no implicit strict correspondence between the terms). According to Zinovyev, both Communist and Western countries exhibited similar tendencies of development, which he attributes to that new supersociety. They include:

the complex supereconomy, which is de facto planned to a great degree;
the powerful supergovernment of networks and cliques that is non-democratic by nature;
yet, at the same time, the seemingly unreasonable growth of governmental structures and institutions;
the corruption of some liberalist principles like that of separation of powers;
the emergence of superhumans (with the two variations: homo sovieticus in the USSR and the zapadoid (Russian: западоид — literally, “Westoid”) in the West)that have some new, important behavioural qualities moulded by the changed social conditions.

In the 1970s there appeared a relatively independent Village Prose, whose most prominent representatives were Valentin Rasputin.

Since the thaw in the 1960s Soviet science fiction began to form its own style. Philosophy, ethics, utopian and dystopian ideas became its core, and Social science fiction was the most popular subgenre. Books of brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, and Kir Bulychev, among others, are reminiscent of social problems and often include satire on contemporary Soviet society. Ivan Yefremov, on the contrary, arose to fame with his utopian views on future as well as on Ancient Greece in his historical novels. Strugatskies are also credited for the Soviet's first science fantasy, the Monday Begins on Saturday trilogy.

A movement called “village prose” cultivated nostalgic descriptions of rural life. Particularly noteworthy is Valentin Rasputin’s elegiac novel Proshchaniye s Matyoroy (1976; Farewell to Matyora) about a village faced with destruction to make room for a hydroelectric plant. The novel’s regret for the past and suspicion of the new dramatically marks the difference between village prose and the Socialist-Realist collective farm novel. Yury Trifonov wrote about what he called “the ordeal of ordinary life” in Dom na naberezhnoy (1976; The House on the Embankment) and Starik (1978; The Old Man). Lyudmila Petrushevskaya’s plays portray family life; her collection of stories Bessmertnaya lyubov (1988; Immortal Love) could be published only under Mikhail Gorbachev. Works first published in full in the West and in fundamental ways critical of Soviet ideology and culture include Andrey Bitov’s experimental novel Pushkinsky dom (1978; Pushkin House), Venedikt Yerofeyev’s alcoholic, hallucinatory novel Moskva-Petushki (1977; Moscow to the End of the Line), Zinovyev’s Ziyayushchiye vysoty (1976; The Yawning Heights), and Voynovich’s satire Zhizn i neobychaynyye priklyucheniya soldata Ivana Chonkina (1975; The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin).

Valentin Rasputin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Valentin Grigoriyevich Rasputin (Russian: Валентин Григорьевич Распутин) (born March 15, 1937) is a Russian writer. He was born and lived much of his life in the Irkutsk Oblast in Eastern Siberia. Rasputin's works depict rootless urban characters and the fight for survival of centuries-old traditional rural ways of life. Rasputin covers complex questions of ethics and spiritual revival.

Valentin Rasputin was born on March 15, 1937 in the village of Ust-Uda (Усть-Уда) in Irkutsk Oblast of Russia. His father worked for a village cooperative store, and his mother was a nurse. Soon after his birth, the Rasputin family moved to the village of Atalanka in the same Ust-Uda district, where Valentin spent his childhood. Both villages, which were located on the bank of the Angara River, do not exist in their original locations any more, as much of the Angara Valley was flooded by the Bratsk Reservoir in the 1960s, and the villages were relocated to higher ground. Later, the writer remembered growing up in Siberia as a difficult, but happy time. "As soon as we kids learned how to walk, we would toddle to the river with our fishing rods; still a tender child, we would run to the taiga, which would begin right outside the village, to pick berries and mushrooms; since young age, we would get into a boat and take the oars..."

When Valentin finished the 4-year elementary school in Atalanka in 1948, his parents sent the precocious boy to a middle school and then high school in the district center, Ust-Uda, some 50 km away from his home village. He was the first child from his village to continue his education in this way.

Rasputin graduated from Irkutsk University in 1959, and started working for local Komsomol newspapers in Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk. He published his first short story in 1961.

An important point in Rasputin's early literary career was a young writers' seminar in September 1965 in Chita led by Vladimir Chivilikhin (Владимир Чивилихин), who encouraged the young writer's literary aspirations and recommended him for membership in the prestigious Union of Soviet Writers. Since then Rasputin has considered Chivilikhin his "literary godfather".

In 1967, after the publication of his Money for Maria, Rasputin was indeed admitted to the Union of Soviet Writers. Over the next three decades, he published a number of novels, many became both widely popular among the Russian reading public and critically acclaimed.

In 1980, after researching the Battle of Kulikovo for two years, Rasputin was baptised by an Orthodox priest in nearby Yelets.

Rasputin's literary work is closely connected to his activism on social and environmental issues. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Rasputin, called by some the leading figure of the "Siberian environmental lobby", took an active part in the campaign for protection of Lake Baikal and against the diversion of Siberian fresh water to Central Asian republics. In the 1990s he participated in the nationalist opposition movement.

Having spent most of his adult life in Irkutsk, Rasputin remains one of the leading intellectual figures of this Siberian city. He was an honoured guest for many events in the city of Irkutsk, including the unveilings of the monuments to Czar Alexander III and Admiral Kolchak. He organized the readers' conference in Irkutsk Central Scientific Library named after Molchanov-Sibirsky.

Valentin Rasputin's daughter Maria died in the 2006 crash of S7 Airlines Flight 778.

Rasputin's writing
Rasputin is closely associated with a movement in post-war Soviet literature known as "village prose," or sometimes "rural prose" (деревенская проза). Beginning in the time of the Khrushchev Thaw (оттепель), village prose was praised for its stylistic and thematic departures from socialist realism. Village prose works usually focused on the hardships of the Soviet peasantry, espoused an idealized picture of traditional village life, and implicitly or explicitly criticized official modernization projects. Rasputin's 1979 novel Farewell to Matyora, which depicts a fictional Siberian village which is to be evacuated and cleared so that a hydroelectric dam can be constructed further down the Angara River, was considered the epitome of this genre. The opening paragraph below is a good example of Rasputin's writing style (exceptional even for the village prose writers), and the novel's theme of natural cycles disprupted by modernization:

Once more spring had come, one more in the never-ending cycle, but for Matyora this spring would be the last, the last for both the island and the village that bore the same name. Once more, rumbling passionately, the ice broke, piling up mounds on the banks, and the liberated Angara River opened up, stretching out into a mighty, sparkling flow. Once more the water gushed boisterously at the island’s upper tip, before cascading down both channels of the riverbed; once more greenery flared on the ground and in the greens, the first rains soaked the earth, the swifts and swallows flew back, and at dusk in the bogs the awakened frogs croaked their love of life. It had all happened many times before. (From Rasputin's novel Farewell to Matyora, translated by Antonina Bouis, 1979)

Rasputin's nonfiction works contain similar themes, often in support of relevant political causes. He directed particularly trenchant criticism at large-scale dam building, like the project that flooded his own hometown, and water management projects, like the diversion of the Siberian rivers to Central Asia. He argued that these projects were destructive not simply in an ecological sense, but in a moral sense as well.

In "Siberia, Siberia" (first published in 1991), Rasputin compares what he considers modern moral relativism with the traditional beliefs of the people of Russkoye Ustye, who believed in reincarnation. According to Rasputin, when burying their dead, the Russkoye Ustye settlers would often bore a hole in the coffin, to make it easier for the soul to come back to be reborn; but if the deceased was a bad person, they would drive an aspen stake through the grave, to keep his soul from coming back into the world of living again. The writer is not ambiguous as to which category the souls of the "modernizers" should belong:

When reflecting on the actions of today's "river-rerouting" father figures, who are destroying our sacred national treasures up hill and down with the haste of an invading army, you involuntarily turn to this experience: it would not be a bad idea for them to know that not everything is forgiven at the time of death.

Some critics accused Rasputin of idealizing village life and slipping into anti-modern polemics. The journal Voprosy literatury published an on-going debate on the question, "Is the Village Prose of Valentin Rasputin Anti-Modern?" Controversy intensified in the 1980s, as Rasputin became associated with the nationalist organization Pamyat (Память: "Memory"). Originally formed to preserve monuments and examples of traditional Russian architecture, Pamyat became increasingly known for a reactionary, antisemitic form of Russian nationalism. Rasputin has been criticized for his involvement with this organization, as well as for making his own antisemitic statements. Rasputin himself argues that his alleged antisemitic statements have been exaggerated and taken out of context. In July, 1991, Rasputin signed the open letter "A Word to the People", other signatories of which were mostly Soviet functionaries opposed to Gorbachev's reforms. In 1992, Valentin Rasputin joined the National Salvation Front (a coalition of radical opposition forces), nominally belonging to its leadership.



Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The brothers Arkady (Russian: Арка́дий; August 28, 1925 – October 12, 1991) and Boris (Russian: Бори́с; born April 14, 1933) Strugatsky (Russian: Струга́цкий; alternate spellings: Strugatskiy, Strugatski, Strugatskii) are Soviet Russian science fiction authors who collaborated on their fiction.

Life and work
The Strugatsky brothers (Бра́тья Струга́цкие or simply Струга́цкие), as they are usually called, although also known as "Абээ́сы" ("Abeesy", from ABS, Arkadiy and Boris Strugatsky) in Russian, are perhaps the best-known Soviet science fiction writers with a well developed fan base. Their early work was influenced by Ivan Yefremov. Their famous novel Piknik na obochine has been translated into English as Roadside Picnic in 1977 and was filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky under the title Stalker.

Several other of their works were translated into German, French, English, and Italian but did not receive the same magnitude of the critical acclaim granted them by their Russian audiences. The Strugatsky brothers, however, were and still are popular in many countries, including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Germany, where most of their works were available in both East and West Germany.

The brothers were Guests of Honour at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention, held in Brighton, England.

Arkady Natanovich Strugatsky was born August 25, 1925 in Batumi; his father was an art critic, his mother a teacher. The family later moved to Leningrad. In January 1942 Arkady and his father left the besieged city, but Arkady was the only survivor in his train car; his father died on reaching Vologda. Arkady was later drafted into the Soviet army, training first at the artillery school in Aktyubinsk and later at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, from which he graduated in 1949 as an interpreter of English and Japanese. He worked as a teacher and interpreter for the military until 1955. From 1955 he began to work as a editor and writer. In 1958, he began to collaborate with his brother Boris, a collaboration that lasted until Arkady's death October 12, 1991.

Born April 14, 1933, Boris Natanovich Strugatsky remained in Leningrad with his mother during the siege of the city during World War II. He graduated from high school in 1950 and applied to the physics department as Leningrad State University, but studied astronomy instead. After graduating in 1955, he worked as an astronomer and computer engineer until 1966 when he became a full-time writer.

Noon Universe
Several of the books written by the Strugatsky brothers take part in the same universe, known as The World of Noon; another unofficial and perhaps less-known title is the Wanderers Universe. The name is derived from the title of one of their texts, Noon: 22nd Century. The main characteristics of the Noon Universe are: a very high level of social, scientific, and technological development; the creativity of the general population; and the very significant level of societal maturity compared to the modern world. For instance, this world knows no monetary stimulation (indeed, money does not exist), and every person is engaged in a profession that interests him or her. The Earth of the Noon Universe is governed by a global technocratic council composed of the world's leading scientists and philosophers. That Noon World has been clearly named as "World of Communism" in their novels, which was kind of handy for publishing their novels in 1960's, when the "redsovet" (editors' committee meeting) had right to decide whether book would be printed, and whether book is aprroved for mass circulation.

The Universe was described by the authors as the world in which they would like to live and work. It became highly influential for at least a generation of Soviet people, e.g. a person could quote the Strugatsky books and be sure of being understood. At first the authors thought that the Noon Universe would become reality "by itself", but then they realized that the only way to achieve it is by inventing the High Theory of Upbringing, making the upbringing of each person a unique deed.

One of the important story arcs of those books is how the advanced human civilization covertly steers the development of those considered less advanced. Agents of humans are known as Progressors. At the same time, some humans suspect that a very advanced spacefaring race called Wanderers exists and is 'progressing' humanity itself.



Yury Trifonov


Yury Valentinovich Trifonov (Russian: Юрий Валентинович Трифонов; August 28, 1925 - 28 March 1981) was a leading representative of the so-called Soviet "urban prose", a 1970s movement inspired by the psychologically complicated works of Anton Chekhov and his 20th-century American followers.

Trifonov was born in the luxurious apartments on the Arbat Street and spent his whole life in Moscow. After his father, Valentin Trifonov, was purged by Stalin in 1937, his family moved from the famous House on Embankment (just across the river from the Kremlin), into a sordid kommunalka.

Trifonov attended a literary institute between 1944 and 1949. His first novel, The Students (1950), won him the Stalin Prize. Trifonov's subsequent works treated such topics as moral ambivalence of Soviet intelligentsia and tragic vicissitudes of Cossackdom during the Russian Civil War.

Trifonov's best regarded and most widely read pieces are half a dozen "Muscovite novellas": Exchange (1969), Preliminary Conclusions (1970), The Long Good-Bye (1971), Another Life (1975), and (most importantly) House on the Embankment (1976). These works are ranked among the most stylish, richly textured and aesthetically satisfying written in the Soviet period.



Andrey Bitov


Andrei Georgiyevich Bitov (Russian: Андрей Георгиевич Битов, born Leningrad/St. Petersburg, May 27, 1937) is a prominent Russian writer. Many consider him among the foremost Russian writers of the late 20th century.

Among the novels that solidified his reputation are: Flying-Away Monakhov, Life in Windy Weather, Pushkin House, Captive of the Caucasus, and The Monkey Link.

Bitov was granted the Bunin Award in 2006 for his selected prose works Palace Without a Tsar. Bitov’s works have been translated into a number of European language, including English, German, Swedish, French and Italian.



Venedikt Yerofeyev

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Venedikt Vasilyevich Yerofeyev (another spellings: Erofeev, Erofeyev; Russian: Венедикт Васильевич Ерофеев; 24 October 1938 — 11 May 1990), was a Russian writer.

Yerofeyev was born in the small settlement Niva-2, suburb of Kandalaksha, Murmansk Oblast. His father was imprisoned during Stalin's purges but survived after 16 years in the gulags. Most of his childhood Yerofeyev spent in Kirovsk, Murmansk Oblast. He managed to enter the philology department of the Moscow State University but was expelled from the University after a year and a half because he did not attend compulsory military training. Later he studied in several more institutes in different towns including Kolomna and Vladimir but he has never managed to graduate from any, usually being expelled due to his "amoral behaviour" (freethinking). Between 1958 and 1975 Yerofeyev lived without propiska in towns in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, also spending some time in Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan, doing different low-qualified and underpaid jobs; for a time he lived and worked in the Muromtsev Dacha in Moscow. He started writing at the age of 17; in the 1960s he unsuccessfully submitted several articles on Ibsen and Hamsun to literary magazines.

Literary heritage
Yerofeyev is best known for his 1969 poem in prose Moscow-Petushki (several English translations exist, including Moscow to the End of the Line and Moscow Stations). It is an account of a journey from Moscow to Petushki (Vladimir Oblast) by train, a journey soaked in alcohol. During the trip, the hero recounts some of the fantastic escapades he participated in, including declaring war on Norway, and charting the drinking habits of his colleagues when leader of a cable laying crew. Referred to by David Remnick as "the comic high-water mark of the Brezhnev era", the poem was published for the first time in 1973 in Jerusalem immediately making Yerofeyev famous throughout the world. It was not published in the Soviet Union until 1989.

Of note is his smaller 1988 work, My Little Leniniana (Моя маленькая лениниана, Moya malenkaya Leniniana), which is a collection of Lenin's quotations works and letters, which shows the unpleasant parts of the character of the "leader of the proletariat".

Yerofeyev also claimed to have written in 1972 a novel Shostakovich about the famous Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, but the manuscript was stolen in a train. The novel has never been found.

Yerofeyev died of throat cancer. Before his death he finished a play called Walpurgisnacht or Steps of the Commodore ("Вальпургиева ночь или Шаги командора") and was working on another play about Fanny Kaplan.


Solzhenitsyn first earned fame with Odin den Ivana Denisovicha (1963; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich), an understated novel about the horrors of a Soviet camp. As part of his de-Stalinization campaign, Khrushchev personally saw to its publication. Under Brezhnev, Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the U.S.S.R. Solzhenitsyn’s Arkhipelag GULag, 1918–1956: opyt khudozhestvennogo issledovaniya, 3 vol. (1973–75; The Gulag Archipelago, 1918–1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation) is arguably the greatest work of Soviet prose. It narrates the history of the Soviet camp system with controlled fury and in an ironic mode reminiscent of the 18th-century English historian Edward Gibbon.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


Russian author and historian, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn continued the realistic tradition of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and complemented it with his views of the flaws of both East and West. In the 1960s and 1970s he produced a number of major novels based on his own experiences of Soviet prisons and hospital life. Later he saw that his primary mission is to rewrite the Russian history of the revolutionary period in the multivolumed work The Red Wheel (1983-1991).

"He had drawn many a thousand of these rations in prisons and camps, and though he'd never had an opportunity to weight them on scales, and although, being a man of timid nature, he knew no way of standing up for his rights, he, like every other prisoner, had discovered long ago that honest weight was never to be found in the bread-cutting. There was short weight in every ration. The only point was how short. So every day you took a look to soothe your soul - today, maybe, they haven't snitched any." (from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, 1962)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn descended from an intellectual Cossack family. He was born in Kislovodsk in the northern Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian seas. His father, Isaaki Solzhenitsyn, a tsarist artillery officer, was killed in an hunting accident six months before Aleksandr's birth. During WW I he had served on the front, where he married Taissia Shchberbak, Solzhenitsyn's mother.

To support herself and her son, Taissia worked in Rostov as a typist and did extra work in the evenings. Because the family was extremely poor, Solzhenitsyn had to give up his plans to study literature in Moscow. Instead he enrolled in Rostov University, where he studied mathematics and physics, graduating in 1941. In 1939-41 he took correspondence courses in literature at Moscow State University. In 1940 he married Natalia Alekseevna Reshetovskaia; they divorced in 1950, remarried in 1957, and divorced again in 1972. In 1973 Solzhenitsyn married Natalia Svetlova; they had three sons, Yermolai, Stephan, and Ignat. Dmitri was the son from Svetlova's first marriage to Prof. Andrei Tiurin. Svetlova, born in 1939, was a postgraduate of the mechanical department of Moscow State University.

In WW II Solzhenitsyn achieved the rank of captain of artillery and was twice decorated. From 1945 to 1953 he was imprisoned for writing a letter in which he criticized Joseph Stalin - "the man with the mustache." Solzhenitsyn served in the camps and prisons near Moskow, and in a camp in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan (1945-53). During these years, Solzhenitsyn's double degree in mathematics and physics saved him mostly from hard physical labour, although in 1950 he was taken to a new kind of camp, created for political prisoners only, where he worked as a manual laborer.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


"The Kolyma was the greatest and most famous island, the pole of ferocity of that amazing country of Gulag, which, though scattered in an archipelago geographically, was, in the psychological sense, fused into a continent - an almost invisible, almost imperceptible country inhabited by the Zek people." (from The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, 1974)
From Marfino, a specialized prison that employed mathematicians and scientist in research, Solzhenitsyn was transferred to forced-labour camp in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic; there he developed stomach cancer. Between 1953 and 1956 Solzhenitsyn was exiled to South Kazakhstan village of Kok-Terek. To supported himself Solzhenitsyn worked as a mathematics and physics teacher. Solzhenitsyn also wrote in secret. He developed a cancer, but was successfully treated in Tashkent (1954-55). Later these experiences became basis for the novels First Circle and Cancer Ward. After rehabilitation, Solzhenitsyn settled in Riazan as a teacher (1957).

At the age of 42, Solzhenitsy had written a great deal, but published nothing. After Nikita Khrushchev had publicly condemned the "cult of personality" - an attack on Stalin's heritage - the political censorship loosened its tight grip for a period. Solzhenitsyn's first book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, appeared next year in the leading Soviet literary journal Novyi Mir. It marked the beginning of Soviet prison-camp literature. Solzhenitsyn used third-person direct speech, examining the Soviet life through the eyes of a simple Everyman. Written in clear and honest style, it described the horrors of just one day in a labour camp. The book gained fame both in the USSR and the West, and was compared with Fedor Dostoyevsky's novel House of the Dead. With the royalties, Solzhenitsyn bought a green Moskvich car.

Novyi Mir published also the stories 'Matryona's Home' and 'An Incident at Krechetovka Station', but rejected Cancer Ward (1968), in which Kostoglotov, the protagonist, was a semi-authorial figure. The characters confront questions of life and death, truth and falsehood - emphasized by the discussion of Lev Tolstoi's What Do Men Live For? in the ward. Stalinism is paralleled with the tragedy of those in the hospital suffering from cancer: an informer has cancer of the tongue. The Fist Circle (1968) was set during the late 1940s and early 1950s, and drew a picture of a class of intellectuals, research scientists, caught up in the system of prisons and camps. They are forced to work for the secret police, and debate endlessly about politics and the principles of morality. The title of the book referred to the least painful circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno. However, if the prisoners do not produce satisfactory work, they will found themselves in the lower circles of the labor camps.


The period of official favour lasted only a few years. Between the years 1963 and 1966 Solzhenitsyn managed to publish only four stories and finally all his manuscripts were censored. Khrushchev himself was forced into retirement in 1964. The KGB confiscated the novel V KRUGE PERVON and other writings in 1965. Solzhenitsyn refused to join his colleagues who protested prison sentences imposed on the writers, because he "disapproved of writers who sought fame abroad", but in 1969 he was expelled in absentia from the Writers' Union. "Dust off the clock face," Solzhenitsyn said in his open letter after the expulsion. "You are behind the times. Throw open the sumptuous heavy curtain - you do not even suspect that day is already dawning outside." From 1971 his unpublished manuscripts were smuggled in the West. These works secured Solzhenitsyn's international fame as one of the most prominent opponents of government policies.

Rejecting the ideology of his youth, Solzhenitsyn came to believe that the struggle between good and evil cannot be resolved among parties, classes or doctrines, but is waged within the individual human heart. During the Cold War years, this Tolstoian view and search for Christian morality was considered radical in the ideological atmosphere of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. As the great 19th-century Russian writers, Solzhenitsyn assumed the role of an observer. "Where can I read about us? Will that be only in a hundred years?" says a woman in Cancer Ward. Solzhenitsyn became a chronicler, witness whose own experiences are part of the way to approach truth and judge.

The first volume of The Gulag Archipelago appeared in 1973. (Gulag stands for "Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps.") For the work Solzhenitsyn collected excerpts from documents, oral testimonies, eyewitness reports, and other material, which all was inflammable. The detailed account of the network of prison and labor camps - scattered like islands in a sea - in Stalin's Russia angered the Soviet authorities and Solzhenitsyn was arrested and charged with treason. "A great writer is, so to speak, a second government in his country," Solzhnenitsyn wrote in The First Circle. "And for that reason no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones."

As with Boris Pasternak, the Soviet government denounced Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Prize as a politically hostile act. "If Solzhenitsyn continues to reside in the country after receiving the Nobel Prize, it will strenghten his position, and allow him to propaganda his views more actively," wrote the KGB chief Yuri Andropov in a secret memorandum.

In 1974 the author was exiled from the Soviet Union. He lived first in Switzerland and moved then in 1976 to the United States, where he continued to write series called The Red Wheel, an epic history of the events, that led to the Russian Revolution. August 1914 (1971), constructed in fragmented style, focused on the defeat of the Russian Second Army in East Prussia. Although Solzhenitsyn did not have much sympathy for intentionally experimental, avant-garde literature, he used also in this work documents, proverbs, songs, newspapers, and imitation film scripts. With these technical devices Solzhenityn managed to create a broad social picture of this crucial moment of history.

"Exile from his great theme, Stalinism and the Gulag, had exposed his major weakness. Whatever its origins - and I suspect it was born early in his life - an overpowering repression would not allow him to penetrate below the conscious level of his mind. In his earlier works this did not matter, for he was able to externalize his unconscious: the savage, Inferno-esque vision of Gulag is, in a sense, a projection of his own repressed violence - on a gargantuan scale, because of the intensity of the repression. Lacking a strong fictive sense, he could never have invented and Inferno, as Dante did; he didn't need to, because this Russian Inferno existed. He hacked the salamander out of the ice. No one else in world literature, ever, could have done it." (D.M. Thomas in Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1998)
After collapse of the Soviet Union Solzhenitsyn returned from Vermont to his native land in 1994. The new regime, led by Mikhail S. Gorbachev, had offered to restore his citizenship already in 1990, and next year his treason charges were formally dropped. Solzhenitsyn made a sensational whistle-stop tour through Siberia, becoming a highly popular figure. Solzhenitsyn was also received by President Yeltsin and in 1994 he gave an address to Russian Duma.

Solzhenitsyn settled in Moscow, where he continued to criticize western materialism and Russian bureaucracy and secularization. Western democratic system meant for Solzhenitsyn "spiritual exhaustion" in which "mediocrity triumphs under the guise of democratic restraints." "We have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience. The complex and deadly crush of life has produced stronger, deeper, and more interesting personalities than those generated by standardized Western well-being." (from a speech given in Harvard in 1978) Sozhenitsyn's old Russian ideals were already explicit in the character of Matryona in 'Matryona's House'. Its narrator meets a saintly woman, whose life has been full of disappointments but who helps others. "We had lived side by side her and had never understood that she was the righteous one without whom,. as the proverb says, no village can stand."

In modern Russia Solzhenitsyn was soon labelled as "a reactionary utopian". His basic message was that the only salvation is to abandon materialist world view and return to the virtues of Holy Russia. Due to low ratings, Solzhenitsyn's 15-minute talk show was cancelled a year after it was started, but the television adaptation of The First Circle, broadcasted in 2006, gained a huge audience.

The Solzhenitsyn Prize for Russian writing was established in 1997. Since his return Solzhenitsyn, published several works, but in the West his views did not gain the former interest, with the exception of the essay Rebuilding Russia (1990) which was widely read and arose much debate. Solzhenitsyn's later books include ROSSIYA V OBVALE (1998, Russia Collapsing), an attack on Russia's business circles and government, published by Viktor Moskvin. The first printing was 5 000 copies. He also wrote on Russian-Jewish relations. In January 2003 Solzhenitsyn was hospitalized with high blood pressure. "For me faith is the foundation and support of one’s life," Solzhenitsyn said in a Spiegel interview (July 23, 2007). In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Solzhenitsyn a State Award for humanitarian achievement, saying that millions of people around the world associate Solzhenitsyn's name and work with the very fate of Russia itself. Solzhenitsyn died from a heart condition on August 3, 2008.




Soviet Dissident Writers

Soviet dissidents were citizens of the Soviet Union who disagreed with the policies and actions of their government and actively protested against these actions through non-violent means. Through such protests, Soviet dissidents would incur harassment, persecution and ultimate imprisonment by the KGB, or some other Soviet state policing arm.

From the mid-1970s, the term was first used in the Western media and subsequently, with derision, by the Soviet propaganda: human rights activists in the USSR came to use the term for self-designation as a joke.

While dissent with Soviet policies and persecution for this dissent existed since the times of the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet power, the term is most commonly to the dissidents of the post-Stalin era.





Andrei Amalrik

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andrei Alekseevich Amalrik (Russian:Андрей Алексеевич Амальрик; May 12, 1938 - November 12, 1980), alternatively spelled Andrei or Andrey, was a Russian writer and dissident.

Amalrik was best known in the Western world for his essay, Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?

He was one of the founders of the Soviet Democratic Movement.

Early life
Amalrik was born in Moscow, during the time of Stalin's purges.

When the Soviet revolution broke out, Andrei's father, then a young man, volunteered for the Red army. After the war he went into the film industry. Andrei's father fought in World War II in the Northern Fleet. He was overheard uttering negative views about Stalin's qualities as a military leader, which led to his arrest and imprisonment; he feared for his life, but shortly afterwards was released to rejoin the army. In 1944 he was wounded at Stalingrad and invalided out of the service. Andrei's father's hardships explain Andrei's decision to become a historian. For his father, after climbing the educational ladder, was after the war refused permission to study at the Academy of Sciences' Institute of History on account of what authorities felt was his own compromised political past. But as Historian John Keep wrote: "Andrei has gone one better by not only writing history but by securing a place in it."

Andrei's father developed a serious heart condition which required constant nursing. This care was provided first by his wife, and on her death from cancer in 1959 by his son Andrei, until Andrei's arrest prevented him from ministering to his father's needs. He died when Andrei was in prison.

In high school, Andrei Amalrik was a restless student and truant. He was expelled a year before graduation. Despite this, he won admission to the history department at Moscow State University in 1959.

In 1963, he angered the university with a dissertation suggesting that Scandinavian warrior-traders and Greeks, rather than Slavs, played the principal role in developing the early Russian state in the ninth century. Amalrik refused to modify his views and was expelled from Moscow University.

First prison sentence
Without a degree, Amalrik did odd jobs and wrote five unpublished plays but was soon under the gaze of the security police for an attempt to contact a Danish scholar through the Danish Embassy. These plays and an interest in modern non-representational art led to Amalrik's first arrest in May 1965. A charge of spreading pornography failed because the expert witnesses called by the prosecution refused to give the correct testimony. However, the authorities then accused Amalrik of "parasitism," and he was sentenced by an administrative tribunal to banishment in western Siberia for a two-and-a-half-year term.

He was freed briefly and then rearrested and sent to exile in a farm village near Tomsk, in Siberia. Allowed to make a brief trip to Moscow after the death of his father, Amalrik persuaded Tatar expressionist artist, Gyuzel Makudinova, to marry him and share his exile.

It was this exile he described in Involuntary Journey to Siberia. Thanks to the efforts of his lawyer, his sentence was overturned in 1966 and Amalrik returned to Moscow, moving with Gyuzel into a crowded communal apartment with one bath, one kitchen, and one telephone.

Protest at trial
During the Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel trial in February 1966, Amalrik and other dissenters stood outside of the trial to protest.

Amalrik often met with correspondents to relay protests, took part in vigils outside courthouses and even gave an interview to an American television reporter.

After the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, pressure on Russia's intellectuals was stepped up by the authorities. Amalrik's apartment was twice searched, in May 1969 and February 1970.

Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?
Amalrik was best known in the Western world for his essay Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?, published in 1970. The book predicts the country's eventual breakup under the weight of social and ethnic antagonisms and a disastrous war with China.

Writing in 1969, Amalrik originally wanted to make 1980 as the date of the Soviet downfall, because 1980 was a round number, but Amalrik was persuaded by a friend to change it to the Orwellian 1984.] Amalrik predicted the collapse of the regime would occur between 1980 and 1985.

Amalrik said in his book:

I must emphasize that my essay is based not on scholarly research but only on observation. From an academic point of view, it may appear to be only empty chatter. But for Western students of the Soviet Union, at any rate, this discussion should have the same interest that a fish would have for an ichthyologist if it suddenly began to talk.

Amalrik was incorrect in some of his predictions, such as a coming military collision with China, and the collapse of the Soviet Union occurred in 1991, not 1984.[6]. Correct was his argument that:

If...one views the present "liberalization" as the growing decrepitude of the regime rather than its regeneration, then the logical result will be its death, which will be followed by anarchy."

Amalrik predicted that when the breakup of the Soviet empire came, it would take one of two forms. Either power would pass to extremist elements and the country would "disintegrate into anarchy, violence, and intense national hatred," or the end would come peacefully and lead to a federation like the British Commonwealth or the European Common Market.

As 1984 drew nearer, Amalrik revised the timetable but still predicted that the Soviet Union would eventually collapse.

US reaction
Predictions of the Soviet Union's impending demise were discounted by many, if not most, Western academic specialists, and had little impact on mainstream Sovietology. "Amalrik's essay was welcomed as a piece of brilliant literature in the West" but "[v]irtually no one tended to take it at face value as a piece of political prediction."

Soviet reaction
Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky described that "in 1984 KGB officials, on coming to me in prison" when Amalrik's essay was mentioned, "laughed at this prediction. 'Amalrik is long dead', they said, 'but we are still very much present.'"

Post-USSR views
Of those few who foresaw the fall of the Soviet Union, including Andrei Amalrik, author Walter Laqueur argued in 1995 that they were largely accidental prophets, possessors of both brilliant insight into the regime's weaknesses and even more brilliant luck.

Second prison sentence
For several months after the publication of Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? (1970) and Involuntary Journey to Siberia (August 1970), abroad, a criminal offense under Soviet law, Amalrik remained free to walk the streets of Moscow and to associate with foreigners.

Inevitably, for "defaming the Soviet state", Amalrik was arrested in November 1970[3] and sentenced to three years in a labor camp in Kolyma. At the end of his term, he was given three more years, but because of his poor health (he almost died of meningitis) and protests from the West, the sentence was commuted after one year to exile in the same region. After serving a five year term, he returned to Moscow in 1975. Although they were not Jewish, the authorities tried to persuade Amalrik and his wife to apply for visas to Israel, the common channel for emigration from the Soviet Union; they refused. On September 13, 1975, Amalrik was arrested again. The police captain told his wife that he was arrested for not having permission to live in Moscow; he could have faced a fine or up to 1 year in prison for violating Soviet passport regulations.

The KGB gave Amalrik an ultimatum: to emigrate or face another sentence. In 1976 his family got visas to go to the Netherlands. He made a farewell tour of Russia before emigrating.

Amalrik worked in the Netherlands at the Utrecht University, then moved to the United States to study and lecture. Later, he and Gyuzel bought a villa in France, near the Swiss border, where he worked on his book, Notebooks of a Revolutionary.

He scorned détente with the Soviet Union. He urged that Western trade and technology be linked to liberalization within the Soviet Union.

On November 12, 1980, Amalrik, his wife, and two other Soviet exiles, Vladimir Borisov and Viktor Feinberg, were on their way to Madrid to attend an East-West conference called to review the Helsinki Accords of 1975. "Spanish police stated that Amalrik, coming from southern France, swerved out of his lane on a wet road near the city of Guadalajara and his car struck an oncoming truck. Mr. Amalrik was instantly killed by a piece of metal, probably from the steering column, which was embedded in his throat, according to the police. His widow, Gyuzel, received only slight injuries," as did the two other passengers.




Alexander Galich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alexander Galich (Russian: Алекса́ндр Арка́дьевич Га́лич, born Alexander Aronovich Ginzburg, October 19, 1918 – December 15, 1977), was a Russian poet, screenwriter, playwright, and singer-songwriter. Galich is a pen name, a sort of acronym of his last name, first name, and patronymic: Ginzburg Alexander Arkadievich. He adopted this name to conceal his Jewish ancestry in the face of Soviet antisemitism. He also changed his patronymic from Aronovich to Arkadievich for this reason.

Alexander Ginzburg was born on October 19, 1918 in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk) into a family of Jewish intellectuals. His father, Aron Samoilovich Ginzburg, was an economist, and his mother, Fanni Borisovna Eksler, worked in a music conservatory. For most of his childhood he lived in Sevastopol. Before World War II, he entered the Gorky Literary Institute, then moved to Stanislavsky's Operatic-Dramatic Studio, and then to the Studio-Theatre of A. Arbuzov and V. Pluchek (in 1939).

He wrote plays and screenplays, and in the late 1950s, he started to write songs and sing them accompanying himself on his guitar. Influenced by the Russian city romance tradition and the art of Alexander Vertinsky, Galich developed his own voice within the genre. He practically single-handedly created the genre of "bard song". Many of his songs spoke of the Second World War and the lives of concentration camp inmates -- subjects which Vladimir Vysotsky also began tackling at around the same time. They became popular with the public and were made available via magnitizdat.

His first songs, though rather innocent politically, nevertheless were distinctly out of tune with the official Soviet aesthetics. They marked a turning point in Galich's creative life, since before this, he was a quite successful Soviet man of letters. This turn was also brought about by the aborted premiere of his play Matrosskaya Tishina written for the newly opened Sovremennik Theatre. The play, already rehearsed, was banned by censors, who claimed that the author had a distorted view of the role of Jews in the Great Patriotic War. This incident was later described by Galich in the story Generalnaya Repetitsiya (Dress Rehearsal).

Galich's increasingly sharp criticism of the Soviet regime in his music caused him many problems. In 1971, he was expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union, which he had joined in 1955. In 1972, he was expelled from the Union of Cinematographers. That year he became baptized in the Orthodox Church.

Galich was forced to emigrate from the Soviet Union in 1974. He initially lived in Norway for one year, where he made his first recordings outside of the USSR. These were broadcasted on Radio Liberty, a congress-funded radio station outlawed in USSR. His songs became immensely popular in the underground scene for being openly critical towards the Soviet government. He later moved to Munich, where he joined the Russian anti-communist organization NTS. He finally moved to Paris where, on the evening of December 15, 1977, he was found dead by his wife, clutching a Grundig stereo recording antenna plugged into a power socket. While his death appears to have been an accident, the consensus opinion was that it was either an assassination or a suicide. As his wife was absent the whole day, no one witnessed the exact circumstances of his death. In 1988, he was posthumously re-instated into the Writers' and Cinematographers' Unions. In 2003, the first memorial plaque for Galich was put up on a building in Akademgorodok (Novosibirsk) where he performed in 1968. That same year, the Alexander Galich Memorial Society was founded.

Alexander Galich, like most bards, had a fairly minimal musical background. He played his songs on a seven string Russian guitar, which was fairly standard at the time. He often wrote in the key of D minor, relying on very simple chord progressions and fingerpicking techniques. He had basic piano playing skills as well.

Galich had a signature cadence that he would usually play at the conclusion of a song (and sometimes at the beginning). He would play the D minor chord toward the top of the fretboard (fret position 0XX0233, thickest to thinnest string, open G tuning), then slide down the fretboard to a higher voiced D minor (0 X X 0 10 10 12).




Lev Kopelev

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lev Zalmanovich Kopelev (also Lev Zinovevich Kopelev; Russian: Лев Залма́нович Ко́пелев or Лев Зино́вьевич Ко́пелев, German spelling Lew Kopelew: April 9, 1912 – June 18, 1997) was a Jewish author and a dissident.

Kopelev was born in Kiev, Ukraine, to a middle-class Jewish family. In 1926, his family moved to Kharkov. While a student at Kharkov State University in the philosophy faculty, Kopelev began writing in the Russian and Ukrainian languages; some of his articles were published in the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

An idealist Communist and active Bolshevik, he was first arrested in March 1929 for "consorting with the Bukharinist and Trotskyist opposition," and spent ten days in prison.

Later, he worked as an editor of radio news broadcasts at a locomotive factory. In 1932, as a correspondent, Kopelev witnessed the NKVD's forced grain requisitioning and the "liquidation" (the Bolshevik term) and deportation of the kulaks. Later, he described the Holodomor in his memoirs The Education of a True Believer, quoted in Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow (see also Collectivisation in the USSR).

He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages in 1935 in the German language faculty, and, after 1938, he taught at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History where he earned a PhD.

When the Great Patriotic War broke out in June 1941, he volunteered for the Red Army and used his knowledge of German to serve as a propaganda officer and an interpreter. When he entered East Prussia with the Red Army throughout the East Prussian Offensive, he sharply criticized the atrocities against the German civilian population and was arrested in 1945 and sentenced to a ten-year term in the Gulag for fostering bourgeois humanism and for "compassion towards the enemy". In the sharashka Marfino he met Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Kopelev became a prototype for Rubin from The First Circle.

Released in 1954, in 1956 he was rehabilitated. Still an optimist and believer in the ideals of Communism, during the Khrushchev Thaw he restored his CPSU membership. In 1957–1969 he taught in the Moscow Institute of Polygraphy and the Institute of History of Arts.

It was Kopelev who first urged Aleksandr Tvardovsky, editor of the literary journal Novyi mir, to publish Solzhenitsyn's short novel about the Gulag, "One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich." The appearance of the work in "Novyi mir" in November 1962, with approval of the Soviet leadership, caused a sensation.

Since 1966 Kopelev actively participated in the human rights and dissident movement. In 1968 he was fired from his job and expelled from the CPSU and the Writers' Union for signing protest letters against the persecution of dissidents, publicly supporting Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel and actively denouncing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He also protested Solzhenitsyn's expulsion from the Writers' Union and wrote in defense of dissenting General Pyotr Grigorenko, imprisoned at a psikhushka.

Kopelev's books were distributed via samizdat and were published in the West.

For his political activism and contacts with the West, he was deprived of the right to teach or be published in 1977.

As a scientist, Kopelev led a research project on the history of Russian-German cultural links at the University of Wuppertal. In 1980, while he was on a study trip to West Germany, his Soviet citizenship was revoked. After 1981 Kopelev was a Professor at the University of Wuppertal.

Kopelev was an honorary Ph.D. at the University of Cologne and a winner of many international awards. In 1990 Gorbachev restored his Soviet citizenship.

Kopelev was married for many years to Raisa Orlova, a Soviet specialist in American literature, who emigrated with him to Germany. Her memoirs were published in the United States in 1984.

Lev Kopelev died in 1997 in Cologne, Germany.




Anatoly Marchenko

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anatoly Tikhonovich Marchenko (also Anatoli Marchenko, Anatolii Marchenko, etc.) (January 23, 1938 – December 8, 1986) was an influential and well-known Soviet dissident, author, and human rights campaigner. He was the first recipient of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of the European Parliament, awarded to him posthumously in 1988 (the only recipient to be honoured in this manner to date).

Initially a worker on a drilling gang, and not of intellectual background or upbringing, he became radicalized, and turned to writing and politics, after being imprisoned as a young man on trumped-up charges. During his time in the labour camps and prisons he studied, and began to associate with dissidents.

He first became widely known through his book My Testimony, an autobiographical account of his then-recent sentence in Soviet labour camps and prison, which caused a sensation when it was released in the West in 1969, after limited circulation inside the Soviet Union as samizdat. It brought home to readers around the world, including the USSR itself, that the Soviet gulag had not ended with Stalin.

He also became active in the Soviet human rights movement. He was one of the founder members of the influential and much-emulated Moscow Helsinki Group. He organized protests and appeals, and authored a number of open letters, several of which landed him in prison again.

He was continually harassed by the authorities, and was imprisoned for several different terms, spending about 20 years all told in prison and internal exile. Nathan Shcharansky said of him: "After the release of Yuri Orlov, he was definitely the number one Soviet prisoner of conscience."

He died in Chistopol prison hospital during his last incarceration, at the age of 48, as a result of a three month long hunger strike he was conducting, the goal of which was the release of all Soviet prisoners of conscience. The widespread international outcry over his death was a major factor in finally pushing then-General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to authorize the large-scale release of political prisoners in 1987.

Detailed biography
Marchenko was born in Barabinsk, in Western Siberia, in 1938. His parents were illiterate railway workers (his father, Tikon Akhimovich, was a locomotive fireman, and his mother was a station cleaner). His grandfather was a peasant, who had been shot by Kolchak. He had two brothers, one of whom died very young.

He left school after only 8 years, two short of the normal full secondary education. He then joined the Komsomol, and became a shift foreman on a drilling gang. The gang travelled around Siberia, and on a job at the Karaganda power station in 1958 he ran into trouble. Some exiled Chechens began a fight with some of the Russian workers in the hostel where Marchenko was staying; after the fight was over, and most of the combatants had left, the police arrested everyone left in the hostel, innocent and guilty alike, and they were all sent to the Karaganda labour camps after a perfunctory trial.

Marchenko becomes a "political" prisoner
In 1960 he escaped from the camp (ironically, just as his sentence was about to be overturned), and seeing no future for himself in the USSR, tried to escape over the border into Iran. However, he was captured on October 29 near Ashkabad, just short of the border. He was subsequently tried for treason on March 2, 1961; the charge of treason was because he supposedly intended to engage in work against the USSR for money; in reality it was payback for his attempt to leave. On March 3, 1961, he was convicted; it was a designation that would cripple his life, but also change it, because it officially made him a "political" prisoner, not an ordinary criminal. He was sentenced to six years in labour camp.

After several months in a series of transit prisons, he was moved to a labour camp in Mordovia. He attempted to escape from there, but did not succeed, and as a result he was sentenced to serve three years of his sentence in prison, which he spent in infamous Vladimir Prison. While in Vladimir he went on a long hunger strike, a tactic he would often later repeat. In 1963, he was moved back to the labour camps in Mordovia. While there, in March 1966, he survived a bout of suppurant meningitis with almost no medical care, which caused problems with his ears which would trouble him for the rest of his life.

During his time in the camps he educated himself by studying, reading a number of socio-political works, including the complete works of Lenin; he would later also read the complete works of Marx and Engels. He also met a number of intellectual political prisoners, including Yuli Daniel, a meeting that would later prove fateful for Marchenko.

First release, and the writing of My Testimony
Marchenko was released on November 2, 1966, and spent months travelling through Russia, trying to find a locality which would let him register to live there. He finally succeeded in being allowed to register in Barabinsk, and later in Alexandrov, in the Vladimir oblast. From May 1968, while still formally living in Alexandrov, he was working in Moscow as a loader, the only job available to him, even though doctors had forbidden him to do hard manual labour.

During this time, he had met Larisa Bogoraz, the wife of Yuli Daniel (although they were in the process of separating), and through her a number of other people in their circle. He was determined to write a record of the camps, and his fellow prisoners, and he enlisted their aid in his project. They also helped him receive medical care, both for his ears, and for problems with internal bleeding in his stomach.

By December 1967, he had finished work on his book, My Testimony, the first book to reveal that the gulag had continued in full operation through the rule of Khrushchev and on into that of Brezhnev. It was described by the Daily Telegraph as "An extraordinarly important book ... a totally realistic, detailed, factual and yet profoundly and human account of Russian prison and camp life...".

It provided a detailed account of both his time in labour camps and prison, as well as a wide-ranging look at conditions there. The publication of the book would later earn him further confinement for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.

Marchenko openly becomes a dissident
On September 5, 1967, Marchenko announced to the authorities his association with the dissident circle by appearing at a search of the apartment of the mother of Alexander Ginzburg, the subject of another famous show trial.

On March 27, 1968 he wrote an open letter to Alexander Chakovsky, then editor of the Literaturnaya Gazeta, contradicting a letter from Chakovsky which had been published that day, which had charged that dissidents were "fed .. at public expense in [Soviet] prisons [and] corrective labour colonies". Marchenko bitterly refuted the charges from his own personal experience, pointing out that rations were minimal, and the prisoners over-worked. On April 17, he followed this up with a series of letters on the same subject to the head of the Soviet Red Cross, and other highly-placed people.

His next focus was the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. On July 22 that year, he wrote an open letter to a variety of publications, including Communist media in the West, about the situation there, predicting that the Soviet Union would not allow the 'Prague Spring' to continue.

This was too much for the authorities; as a result, on July 28, he was arrested and charged with "violating passport regulations", because of his presence in Moscow. On August 21 (ironically, the same day that the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, as he had predicted it would), he was sentenced to the maximum penalty for that crime, one year in labour camp. In reality, his crime had been the open letter about Czechoslovakia.

He was then sent to a camp in the far-Northern province of Perm. He was scheduled to be released on July 27, 1969, but before that could happen, he was tried on charges of "defamation of the Soviet political system", notionally for statements on the subjects of Czechoslovakia and human rights in the USSR which he supposedly had made in camp. In reality, as Soviet officials later admitted, it was payback for the publication of My Testimony in the West. He was tried on that charge on August 22, and convicted; on August 26 he was sentenced to a further two years of imprisonment.

Siberian exile and family
Although many (including his American publisher, Dutton, did not expect him to live through this imprisonment, he did, and was released in August 1971.

Given a choice for his place of internal exile after release, he chose Chuna, in Siberia, where his fellow dissident Larisa Bogoraz, was also in internal exile. (She had been sentenced to four years of exile after being arrested in August, 1968 for publicly protesting the invasion of Czechoslovakia.)

Bogoraz was by now divorced from Yuli Daniel, a process that had started before she met Marchenko. She and Marchenko had become lovers during the period after his first release from prison; later, they married.

In September 1972, the couple moved back to Tarusa, where they moved into a dilapidated house which Marchenko rebuilt. While there, they had one son, Pavel, born that winter. Marchenko's health was still poor, and he was unable to find any work other than manual labour as a furnace stoker in a factory.

Marchenko continues with dissident activity
Tarusa was only about 100 kilometers from Moscow, so they were able to maintain contact with dissident circles in the capital, which were suffering increasing repression as they more openly challenged the government. Marchenko and Bogoraz considered emigrating, but the increasing repression moved him to act.

On August 23, 1973 he wrote to Kurt Waldheim (then Secretary-General of the United Nations), expressing concern about the condition of another imprisoned writer. A letter to Willy Brandt, warning of the dangers of détente, followed. The authorities replied with increased repressive measures aimed at Marchenko through 1974, and the more they pressed him, the more it moved him to act.

On December 10 he wrote a letter to Nikolai Podgorny (then the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR) renouncing his Soviet citizenship, and indicating he intended to emigrate to the United States. The Soviet response was to encourage him to apply for an exit visa to Israel, which they could use for propaganda purposes. Typically, Marchenko refused to cooperate, even though he could have easily changed his destination once out of the Soviet Union.

 His first major hunger strike
In response to his refusal to cooperate in any way, on February 26, 1975 he was again arrested, and charged with violating the repressive "administrative supervision" measures which had been imposed on him the previous summer.

His response was to begin a hunger strike, on which he was still engaged when he was tried a month later, on March 31. He was quickly convicted, and sentenced that day to four years of internal exile to Siberia, again to Chuna.

During a two-week wait for transport to begin, and for a week thereafter, he continued his hunger strike. During this entire period, he received no special treatment, and was handled just like all the other prisoners. He only gave up on April 21, when it became clear to him that he was at risk of death; his hunger strike had lasted 53 days.

His transportation to Siberia through a series of prisons (Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, and Irkutsk) lasted through the rest of April, and May.

Life in exile again
On arrival in Chuna, he started work as a log handler at a sawmill, a place where he had worked during his previous period of exile. Later in 1975, he suffered an attack of neuritis, and was hospitalized in Irkutsk, although he was forced to leave before he was fully recovered.

During his exile in Siberia, he managed to complete his second book, From Tarusa to Siberia, in October, 1975; it covers the then-recent trial and hunger strike. In 1976, he was one of the founders of the influential and pathbreaking Moscow Helsinki Group.

His last period of freedom
In September 1978, his term of exile ended, and he was allowed to leave Chuna, and he and his family moved back to the vicinity of Moscow. He was given an ultimatum to leave the Soviet Union or go back to prison, but ignored it.

During this period, he completed his third and final book, To Live Like Everyone; the title was a favourite phrase of his. It covered the period from 1966 to 1969, when he was writing My Testimony, up through his trial in retribution for its publication.

This book contributed to his demise, though: in 1980, he was arrested for publishing it. On September 3, 1981 he went on trial for "anti-Soviet agitation", and the next day was given a 15-year sentence (the last 5 of internal exile). He would not complete this sentence.

Marcheko's final hunger strike, and death
Little is known of his last period of imprisonment, although in December 1983 he was badly beaten by guards, losing consciousness as a result.

Over the next few years, Bogoraz began a public campaign to free all Soviet political prisoners, which proved ultimately successful when Gorbachev began mass releases in 1987. However, this proved too late for Marchenko, who had died not long before Gorbachev's announcement - ironically, from the effects of a hunger strike demanding the release of all Soviet political prisoners.

This last hunger strike started on August 4, 1986 when he wrote a letter to the Helsinki review conference in Vienna. Sadly, there was little reaction to his hunger strike from the world press. It continued through November, although Bogoraz believed that he ended it around the end of November, when he was placed on the sick list.

Although there were indications shortly before his death that the Soviet authoritites were on the verge of releasing him, Marchenko died before that could happen, on December 8, after being hospitalized the day before.

The exact cause of his death is not certain; some reports indicate problems with his heart, others a stroke. However, it was certainly caused by the effects of the long hunger strike.

His wife and son travelled to Chistopol to bury him there; they were not allowed to bring his body back to Moscow for burial.

He was buried on December 12, near the prison in Chistopol, after Russian Orthodox rites at a church nearby. His widow was denied a death certificate, and had to write his name in ballpoint pen on the pine cross on his grave.



Post-Soviet literature

Almost no one expected the Soviet Union to come suddenly to an end. The effects of this event on literature have been enormous. The period of glasnost (verbal openness) under Gorbachev and the subsequent collapse of the U.S.S.R. led first to a dramatic easing and then to the abolition of censorship. Citizenship was restored to émigré writers, and Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia. Doctor Zhivago and We were published in Russia, as were the works of Nabokov, Solzhenitsyn, Voynovich, and many others. The divisions between Soviet and émigré and between official and unofficial literature came to an end. Russians experienced the heady feeling that came with absorbing, at great speed, large parts of their literary tradition that had been suppressed and with having free access to Western literary movements. A Russian form of postmodernism, fascinated with a pastiche of citations, arose, along with various forms of radical experimentalism. During this period, readers and writers sought to understand the past, both literary and historical, and to comprehend the chaotic, threatening, and very different present.

End of the 20th century has proven a difficult period for Russian literature, with relatively few distinct voices. Among the most discussed authors of these period were Victor Pelevin, who gained popularity with first short stories and then novels, novelist and playwright Vladimir Sorokin, and the poet Dmitry Prigov.

A relatively new trend in Russian literature is that female short story writers  Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, and novelists Lyudmila Ulitskaya have come into prominence.


Victor Pelevin

Victor Olegovich Pelevin (Russian: Виктор Олегович Пелевин, born 22 November 1962 in Moscow) is a Russian fiction writer. His books usually carry the outward conventions of the science fiction genre, but are used to construct involved, multi-layered postmodernist texts, fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity and New Realism literary movements.

After high school Pelevin received a degree in electromechanical engineering from the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, then attended seminars in creative writing at the Literature Institute. As an editor of "Science and Religion" magazine, he was responsible for an ongoing series of articles on Eastern mysticism.

Pelevin's first story was published in 1989, and for the next three years his short stories appeared in various magazines and compilations. In 1992 a book of Pelevin's collected stories The Blue Lantern received the first annual Russian Little Booker Prize. His first novel, Omon Ra, appeared in 1992.

Pelevin rarely gives interviews; when he does, he is known to talk about the nature of the mind rather than his own writing. He has permitted all of his texts in Russian predating 2006 to be published on the Internet for non-commercial use. Some novels are also available as voice files in Russian.

Pelevin's prose is usually devoid of dialogue between the author and the reader, whether through plot, character development, literary form or narrative language. This corresponds to his philosophy (both stated[where?] and unstated) that, for the most part, it is the reader who infuses the text with meaning. His novel Babylon bears on its cover the inscription, Any thought that occurs in the process of reading this book is subject to copyright. Unauthorized thinking of it is prohibited.



Vladimir Sorokin

Vladimir Georgievich Sorokin (Russian: Владимир Георгиевич Сорокин) (born 7 August 1955 in Bykovo, Moscow Oblast) is a contemporary postmodern Russian writer and dramatist, one of the most popular in modern Russian literature.

Sorokin was born on 7 August 1955 in Bykovo, Moscow Oblast near Moscow. In 1972 he made his literary debut with a publication in the newspaper Za Kadry Neftyanikov (Russian: За кадры нефтяников, lit. For the petroleum industry manager). He studied at the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow and graduated in 1977 as an engineer.

After graduation he worked for one year for the magazine Change (Russian: Смена), before he had to leave due to his refusal to become a member of the Komsomol.

Throughout the 1970s, Sorokin participated in a number of art exhibitions and designed and illustrated nearly 50 books. Sorokin’s development as a writer took place amidst painters and writers of the Moscow underground scene of the 1980s. In 1985, six of Sorokin’s stories appeared in the Paris magazine A-Ya. In the same year, French publisher Syntaxe published his novel Ochered' (The Queue).

Sorokin's works, bright and striking examples of underground culture, were banned during the Soviet period. His first publication in the USSR appeared in November 1989, when the Riga-based Latvian magazine Rodnik (Spring) presented a group of Sorokin's stories. Soon after, his stories appeared in Russian literary miscellanies and magazines Tretya Modernizatsiya (The Third Modernization), Mitin Zhurnal (Mitya's Journal), Konets Veka (End of the Century), and Vestnik Novoy Literatury (Bulletin of the New Literature). In 1992, Russian publishing house Russlit published Sbornik Rasskazov (Collected Stories) – Sorokin’s first book to be nominated for a Russian Booker Prize. In September 2001, Vladimir Sorokin received the People's Booker Prize; two months later, he was presented with the Award of Andrei Bely for outstanding contributions to Russian literature.

Sorokin's books have been translated into English, French, German, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Italian, Polish, Japanese, Serbian, Korean, Romanian, Estonian, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, and Croatian, and are available through a number of prominent publishing houses, including Gallimard, Fischer, DuMont, BV Berlin, Haffman, Mlinarec & Plavic and Verlag der Autoren.

One of his recent novels, A Day in the Life of an Oprichnik, describes dystopian Russia in 2028, with a Tzar in the Kremlin, the Russian language with numerous Chinese expressions, and a "Great Russian Wall" separating the country from its neighbors.



Dmitry Prigov

Dmitri Aleksandrovich Prigov (Cyrillic: Дми́трий Алекса́ндрович При́гов) (5 November 1940 – 16 July 2007) was a Russian writer and artist. Prigov was a dissident during the era of the Soviet Union and was briefly sent to a psychiatric hospital in 1986.


Early life and career
Born in Moscow, Russian SFSR, Prigov started writing poetry as a teenager. He was trained as a sculptor, however, at the Stroganov Art Institute in Moscow and later worked as an architect as well as designing sculptures for municipal parks.

Artistic career
Prigov and his friend Lev Rubinstein were leaders of the conceptual art school started in the 1960s viewing performance as a form of art. He was also known for writing verse on tin cans.[

He was a prolific poet having written nearly 36,000 poems by 2005. For most of the Soviet Era, his poetry was distributed as Samizdat circulating underground with his poetry not being officially published until the end of the Communist era. His work was widely published in émigré publications and Slavic studies journals well before it was officially distribute.

In 1986, the K.G.B arrested Prigov, who performed a street action with handing poetic texts down to passers-by, and sent him to a psychiatric institution before he was freed after protests by poets such as Bella Akhmadulina.

From 1987 he started to be published and exhibited officially, and in 1991 he joined the Writers’ Union, whereas he was a member of the Artists’ Union from 1975.

Prigov took part in an exhibition in the USSR in 1987: his works were presented in the framework of the Moscow projects “Unofficial Art” and “Modern Art”. In 1988 his personal exhibition took place in the USA, in Struve’s Gallery in Chicago. Afterwards his works were many times exhibited in Russia and abroad.

Prigov also wrote the novels Live in Moscow and Only My Japan, and was an artist with works at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. He had many strings to his bow writing plays and essays, creating drawings, video art and installations and even performing music.

Prigov, together with philosopher Mikhail Epstein, is credited with introducing the concept of "new sincerity" (novaia iskrennost' ) as a response to the dominant sense of absurdity in late Soviet and post-Soviet culture. Prigov referred to a "shimmering aesthetics" that (as explained by Epstein) "is defined not by the sincerity of the author or the quotedness of his style, but by the mutual interaction of the two."

In 1993 Prigov was awarded Pushkin Prize of Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. and in 2002 he won Boris Pasternak Prize.

Dmitri Prigov died from a heart attack in 2007, aged 66, in Moscow. He had been planning an event where he would sit in a wardrobe reading poetry while being carried up 22 flights of stairs at Moscow State University.



Lyudmila Petrushevskaya


Lyudmila Stefanovna Petrushevskaya (Russian: Людмила Стефановна Петрушевская) (born May 26, 1938) is a Russian writer, novelist and playwright. Petrushevskaya is regarded as one of Russia's most talented contemporary writers, whose writing combines postmodernist trends with the psychological insights and parodic touches of writers such as Anton Chekhov. Over the last few decades, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya has been one of the most admired and acclaimed contemporary writers at work in Eastern Europe: Publishers Weekly has called her "one of the finest living Russian writers".

In 1979 she was co-writer of the scenario for one of the most influential Russian animated films, Tale of Tales. She served as a jury member in the 3rd Open Russian Festival of Animated Film in 1998.

In a 1993 interview with Sally Laird, translator of her novella, "The Time Night," Petrushevskaya said of her own work, "Russia is a land of women Homers, women who tell their stories orally, just like that, without inventing anything. They're extraordinarily talented storytellers. I'm just a listener among them."

Her works include the novels The Time Night (1992) and The Number One, both short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, and Immortal Love, a collection of short stories and monologues. Since the late 1980s her plays, stories and novels have been published in more than 30 languages all over the world. In 2003 she was awarded the Pushkin Prize in Russian literature by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Germany. She was awarded The Russian State Prize for arts (2004), The Stanislavsky Award (2005), and The Triumph Prize (2006).

A new book, "There Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby," by Lyudmila Petrushevskaya was published in the U.S. by Penguin in October 2009. The first major translation of her work by an American publisher, the stories often contain mystical or allegorical elements which are used to illuminate bleak Soviet and post-Soviet living conditions. The collection of stories has been well-reviewed, buttressing Petrushevskaya's reputation in the English-speaking world. An article in Dissent called the collection "a striking introduction to the author's work":

"Petrushevskaya’s stories could easily be read as bleak grotesques, populated by envious neighbors, selfish adolescents, and parents who overcompensate with exaggerated love. But ultimately, Petrushevskaya’s skillful juxtapositions yield glints of light. Resilience and ingenuity thread through the hardship, whether in the form of forgiveness or love. Such traces of humanity are starker—and brighter—because of the darkness that surrounds them."

"There Once Lived a Woman" entered The New York Times Book Review Top 35 Bestsellers (Dec 2009)

In her late 60s Liudmila Petrushevskaya started a powerful singing career. She re-wrote most famous songs of the 20th century (from Ella Fitzdgerald to Edith Piaf) - those best known hits of war and peace, tears and happiness, love and sorrow - and created new lyrics for her favorite songs. Since 2008 she's regularly performing as a singer in Moscow (from nightclubs to major venues such as Moscow House of Music) and across Russia as well as internationally (from New York to Odessa). Recently she started writing her own songs. Some of the videos showing Petrushevskaya as a singer became youtube's hits

Petrushevskaya is also known as a visual artist - her portraits, nudes and still lifes have been shown in major Russia's museums (Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, State Museum of Literature9lk) and private galleries

Lyudmila Petrushevskaya lives in Moscow, where she continues her work.



Lyudmila Ulitskaya

Lyudmila Evgenevna Ulitskaya (Людмила Евгеньевна Улицкая) is a critically acclaimed modern Russian novelist and short-story writer. She was born in the town of Davlekanovo in Bashkiria in 1943. She grew up in Moscow where she studied biology at the Moscow State University.

Having worked in the field of genetics and biochemistry, Ulitskaya began her literary career by joining the Jewish drama theatre as a literary consultant. She was the author of two movie scripts produced in the early 1990s: The Liberty Sisters (Сестрички Либерти, 1990) and A Woman for All (Женщина для всех, 1991).

Ulitskaya's first novella, Sonechka (Сонечка), published in Novy Mir in 1992, almost immediately became extremely popular, and was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Award. Today her writing is much admired by the general reading public and critics in Russia and many other countries. A number of interlinked themes dominate her works: the need for religious and ethnic tolerance; the problem of the intelligentsia in Soviet culture; gender and family issues; everyday life as a literary subject; and new images of the body (the sexual body, handicapped body, etc.). In 2006 she published Daniel Stein, Translator (Даниэль Штайн, переводчик), a novel dealing with the Holocaust and the need for reconciliation between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Her works have been translated into several languages and received several international and Russian literary awards, including the Russian Booker for Kukotsky's Case (Казус Кукоцкого) (2001). (Ulitskaya was the first woman to receive this distinguished prize.) She regularly publishes commentary on social issues and is actively involved in philanthropic projects increasing access to literature. Lyudmila Ulitskaya currently resides in Moscow.

Ulitskaya's works have been translated into many foreign languages. In Germany her novels have been added to bestseller list thanks to features of her works in a television program hosted by literary critic Elke Heidenreich. A number of her novels and short stories have been translated into English.


Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy