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Russian literature


 


Andrei Sinyavsky





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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."
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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