Nikolai Klyuev is the first book in English to examine the life and work of this enigmatic poet. Klyuev (1884–1937) rose to prominence in the early twentieth century as the first of the so-called "new peasant poets" but later fell victim to Stalinist hostility to both his cultural ideology and his homosexuality. He was arrested and exiled in 1933, then shot in 1937.
Klyuev’s work incorporates rich elements of folklore, mysticism, politics, and religion, and he sometimes invokes arcane Russian syntax and vocabulary. Makin’s feat is particularly notable because Klyuev was often elusive in his own accounts of his life, and Makin successfully brings into focus the poet’s deliberate strategies of self-mythologization. Nikolai Klyuev is an indispensable guide to the life and the work of an important poet winning wider recognition outside of Russia.