Thaws and freezes
Nobel Lecture December 8,
"One Day in the Life of Ivan
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
The affair was accompanied by harsh propaganda campaign in
the Soviet media and was perceived as a sign of demise of the
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Some writers dared to
oppose Soviet ideology, like short story writer Varlam
Shalamov and Nobel Prize winning novelist
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.
was expelled from the country. Others, such as Nobel prize
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Nobel Lecture December 8,
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
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
Judge: And what is your profession,
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?
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
Brodsky held an honorary degree from the University of
Silesia and was an honorary member of the International Academy
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, 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.
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
"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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
One of his Kolyma short stories, "The Final Battle of Major
Pugachoff," was made into a film (Последний бой майора Пугачёва)
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
In the 1970s there appeared a relatively independent Village
Prose, whose most prominent representatives were Valentin
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).
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.
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".
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.
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
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
Valentin Rasputin's daughter Maria died in the
2006 crash of S7 Airlines Flight 778.
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
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.
"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
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
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.
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
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'
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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,
expelled from the U.S.S.R.
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
"One Day in the Life of Ivan
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
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.
"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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.. Correct was his
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
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.
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 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.'"
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
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 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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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
Lev Kopelev died in 1997 in Cologne, Germany.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia.
Zhivago and We were published in Russia, as were the
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
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 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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":
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
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
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
Petrushevskaya lives in Moscow, where she
continues her work.
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
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).
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.
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