Seven years after the death of Anton Chekhov, his sister, Maria, wrote to a friend, "You asked for someone who could write a biography of my deceased brother. If you recall, I recommended Iv. Al. Bunin . . . . No one writes better than he; he knew and understood my deceased brother very well; he can go about the endeavor objectively. . . . I repeat, I would very much like this biography to correspond to reality and that it be written by I.A. Bunin."
In About Chekhov Ivan Bunin sought to free the writer from limiting political, social, and aesthetic assessments of his life and work, and to present both in a more genuine, insightful, and personal way. Editor and translator Thomas Gaiton Marullo subtitles About Chekhov "The Unfinished Symphony," because although Bunin did not complete the work before his death in 1953, he nonetheless fashioned his memoir as a moving orchestral work on the writers' existence and art. . . . "Even in its unfinished state, About Chekhov stands not only as a stirring testament of one writer's respect and affection for another, but also as a living memorial to two highly creative artists." Bunin draws on his intimate knowledge of Chekhov to depict the writer at work, in love, and in relation with such writers as Tolstoy and Gorky. Through anecdotes and observations, spirited exchanges and reflections, this memoir draws a unique portrait that plumbs the depths and complexities of two of Russia's greatest writers.
Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) was one of the greatest Russian poets of this century. But during her life she was subjected to scathing critical attacks, denounced as "half-nun, half-whore," and then expelled from the Writers' Union. She also endured severe personal losses. Akhmatova's friend Lydia Chukovskaya (1907-96) kept intimate diaries of her conversations with the great poet. First published in the U.S.S.R. in 1987, The Akhmatova Journals offers a rare look into the day-to-day life of Akhmatova.
Anton Chekhov and his Times
Andrei Turkov University of Arkansas Press, 1995 Library of Congress PG3458.A657 1995 | Dewey Decimal 891.723
Now available for the first time in English in America, these sixty-eight letters and ten essay-length reminiscences trace the development of Chekhov's personality and talent, creating a window into the life and times of one of the world's greatest short story writers and playwrights. These perspectives on his family life and marriage, his early works, the stage productions of his plays, his literary successes, and the philosophies behind his writing create a rich biography of Chekhov that will reward writers, scholars, and all lovers of literature.
First published in 1973, this collection of Chekhov's correspondence is widely regarded as the best introduction to this great Russian writer. Weighted heavily toward the correspondence dealing with literary and intellectual matters, this extremely informative collection provides fascinating insight into Chekhov's development as a writer. Michael Henry Heim's excellent translation and Simon Karlinsky's masterly headnotes make this volume an essential text for anyone interested in Chekhov.
An entire generation of Russian writers have been living in exile from their homeland. Although today's glasnost has special meaning for many of these banished writers, it does not dissolve their experience of forced separation from their country of origin. In Conversations in Exile, John Glad brings together interviews with fourteen prominent Russian writers in exile, all of whom currently live in the United States, France, or Germany. Conducted between 1978 and 1989, these frank and captivating interviews provide a rich and complex portrait of a national literature in exile. Glad's introduction situates the three distinct waves of westward emigration in their historical and political framework. Organized by genre, the book begins with discussions with the older generation of writers and then moves on to more recent arrivals: the makers of fantasy and humor, the aesthetes, the moralists, and the realists. Each voice is compelling for its invaluable testimony--some reveal startling insights into the persecution of dissidents under Soviet rule while others address the relationship between creativity, writing, and conditions of exile. Taken together these interviews reveal the range of modern Russian writing and document the personalities and positions that have made Russian writers in emigration so diverse, experimental, and controversial.
The Writers: Vasily Aksyonov, Joseph Brodsky, Igor Chinnov, Natalya Goranevskaya, Frifrikh Gorensetin, Roman Goul, Yury Ivask, Boris Khazanov, Edward Liminov, Vladimir Makisimov, Andrei Siniavsky and Maria Rozanova, Sasha Sokolov, Vladimir Voinovich, Aleksandr Zinoviev
Excerpt John Glad: You're a Russian poet but an American essayist. Does that bring on any measure of split personality? Do you think you are becoming less and less Russian? Joseph Brodsky (recipient of 1987 Nobel Prize for Literature): That's not for me to say. As far as I'm concerned, in my inner self, inside, it feels quite natural. I think being a Russian poet and an American essayist is an ideal situation. It's all a matter of whether you have (a) the heart and (b) the brains to be able to do both. Sometimes I think I do. Sometimes I think I don't. Sometimes I think that one interferes with the other.
The first generation of Russian modernists experienced a profound sense of anxiety resulting from the belief that they were living in an age of decline. What made them unique was their utopian prescription for overcoming the inevitability of decline and death both by metaphysical and physical means. They intertwined their mystical erotic discourse with European degeneration theory and its obsession with the destabilization of gender. In Erotic Utopia, Olga Matich suggests that same-sex desire underlay their most radical utopian proposal of abolishing the traditional procreative family in favor of erotically induced abstinence.
2006 Winner, CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Titles, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
Honorable Mention, Aldo and Jean Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Modern Language Association
“Offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of new information on early Russian modernism. . . . It is required reading for anyone interested in fin-de-siècle Russia and in the history of sexuality in general.”—Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Slavic and East European Journal
More than a century after his death in 1881, Fyodor Dostoevsky continues to fascinate readers and reviewers. Countless studies of his writing have been published—more than a dozen in the past few years alone. In this important new work, Thomas Marullo provides a diary-portrait of Dostoevsky’s early years drawn from the letters, memoirs, and criticism of the writer, as well as from the testimony and witness of family and friends, readers and reviewers, and observers and participants in his life.
Marullo’s exhaustive search of published materials on Dostoevsky sheds light on many unexplored corners of Dostoevsky’s childhood, adolescence, and youth. Speakers of excerpts are given maximum freedom: Anything they said about the writer—the good and the bad, the truth and the lies—are included, with extensive footnotes providing correctives, counter-arguments, and other pertinent information.
The first part of this volume, “All in the Family,” focuses on Dostoevsky’s early formation and schooling, i.e., his time in city and country, and his ties to his family, particularly his parents. The second section, “To Petersburg!,” features Dostoevsky’s early days in Russia’s imperial city, his years at the Main Engineering Academy, and the death of his father. The third part, “Darkness before Dawn,” deals with the writer’s youthful struggles and strivings, culminating in the success of his work, Poor Folk. This clear and comprehensive portrait of one of the world’s greatest writers will appeal to students, teachers, and scholars of Dostoevsky’s early life, as well as general readers interested in Dostoevsky, literature, and history.
In the eighteenth century, as modern forms of literature began to emerge in Russia, most of the writers producing it were members of the nobility. But their literary pursuits competed with strictly enforced obligations to imperial state service. Unique to Russia was the Table of Ranks, introduced by Emperor Peter the Great in 1722. Noblesse oblige was not just a lofty principle; aristocrats were expected to serve in the military, civil service, or the court, and their status among peers depended on advancement in ranks.
Irina Reyfman illuminates the surprisingly diverse effects of the Table of Ranks on writers, their work, and literary culture in Russia. From Sumarokov and Derzhavin in the eighteenth century through Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and poets serving in the military in the nineteenth, state service affected the self-images of writers and the themes of their creative output. Reyfman also notes its effects on Russia’s atypical course in the professionalization and social status of literary work.
Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova (1743–1810), Russian princess, playwright, author, President of the Academy of Sciences, and founder and Director of the Russian Academy, was one of the first women in Europe to hold public office. Her memoir, among the earliest examples of autobiography in Russia, is part of what has become a long and powerful tradition of autobiographical writing by Russian women. It offers a rare glimpse into the life of a strong and outspoken public figure who was well recognized in much of her own time for her potent intellect but who died in isolation and has largely been forgotten today. Originally written in French, first published in English, and long out of print, Dashkova’s Memoirs tell the story of a woman who at age eighteen played an important role in the coup that brought Catherine the Great to the throne. The relationship between these two women, often tense, is a central theme throughout this story. Dashkova, occupying the highly unusual position of both stateswoman and mother, also reveals her own path between the demands and limitations of the "private" and "public" spheres of her society. She provides a view of the expectations of Russian aristocratic women, the possibilities available to them, and the ways in which gender roles were conceived in the eighteenth century. With a new introduction by Jehanne M Gheith, The Memoirs of Princess Dashkova will renew interest in the life of a fascinating woman for students of Russian history, women’s studies, and eighteenth-century studies. It will be a significant text for those engaged in the cross-cultural study of the traditions of women’s autobiographical writing.
J. A. E. Curtis Reaktion Books, 2017 Library of Congress PG3476.B78Z64 2017 | Dewey Decimal 891.784209
Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) was one of the most popular Russian writers of the twentieth century, but many of his works were banned for decades after his death due to the extreme political repression his country enforced. Even his great novel, The Master and Margarita, was written in complete secrecy during the 1930s for fear of the writer being arrested and shot. In her revelatory new biography, J. A. E. Curtis provides a fresh account of Bulgakov’s life and work, from his idyllic childhood in Kiev to the turmoil of World War One, the Russian Revolution, and civil war.
Exploring newly available archives that have opened up following the dissolution of the USSR, Curtis draws on new historical documents in order to trace Bulgakov’s life. She offers insights on his absolute determination to establish himself as a writer in Bolshevik Moscow, his three marriages and tumultuous personal life, and his triumphs as a dramatist in the 1920s. She also reveals how he struggled to defend his art and preserve his integrity in Russia under the close scrutiny of Stalin himself, who would personally weigh in each time on whether one of his plays should be permitted or banned. Based upon many years of research and examining previously little-known letters and diaries, this is an absorbing account of the life and work of one of Russia’s most inventive and exuberant novelists and playwrights.
First published in 1965 and reprinted many times in the U.S.S.R. and Russia, No Day without a Line is a series of thematically assembled journal entries which together form an unusual and engaging personal memoir. Ranging from Olsesha's prerevolutionary childhood, to notable cultural figures, to Russian and Western literature, the entries are a fundamental piece of the legacy of a major Russian writer and an important contribution to the literature of autobiography and memoir.
The memoirs of Ariadna Efron have informed all important studies of Marina Tsvetaeva’s writing and are indispensable to a complete understanding of her life and work. Never before translated into English, these memoirs provide the insider’s view of Tsvetaeva’s daughter and "first reader."
No Love Without Poetry gives us Efron’s wrenching story of the difficulty of living with genius. The hardships imposed by early twentieth-century Russian political upheaval placed incredible strain on her already fraught, intense relationship with her mother. Efron recounts the family’s travels from Moscow to Germany, to Czechoslovakia, and finally to France, where, against her mother’s advice, Efron decided to return to Russia. Nemec Ignashev draws on new materials, including Efron’s short stories and her mother’s recently published notebooks, to supplement the original memoirs. No Love Without Poetry completes extant historical records on Marina Tsvetaeva and establishes Ariadna Efron as a literary force.
Through careful textual readings of Gogol's most famous works, Karlinsky argues that Gogol's homosexual orientation—which Gogol himself could not accept or forgive in himself—may provide the missing key to the riddle of Gogol's personality.
"A brilliant new biography that will long be prized for its illuminating psychological insights into Gogol's actions, its informative readings of his fiction and drama, and its own stylistic grace and vivacity."—Edmund White, Washington Post Book World
Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977), a writer of world renown, grew up in a culturally refined family with diverse interests. Nabokov’s father, Vladimir Dmitrievich (1870–1922), was a distinguished jurist and statesman at the turn of the twentieth century. He was also a great connoisseur and aficionado of literature, painting, theater, and music as well as a passionate butterfly collector, keen chess player, and avid athlete. This book, the first of its kind, examines Vladimir Nabokov’s life and works as impacted by his distinguished father. It demonstrates that V. D. Nabokov exerted the most fundamental influence on his son, making this examination pivotal to understanding the writer’s personality and his world perception, as well as his literary, scholarly, and athletic accomplishments. The book contains never heretofore published archival materials. It is appended with rare articles by Nabokov and his father and is accompanied by old photographs. In addition, the book constitutes a survey of sorts of Russian civilization at the turn of the twentieth century by providing a partial view of the multifaceted picture of Imperial Russia in its twilight hours. The book illumines the historical background, political struggle, juridical battles, and literary and artistic life as well as athletic activities during the epoch, rich in cultural events and fraught with sociopolitical upheavals.
To the Memory of Childhood
Lydia Chukovskaya Northwestern University Press, 1988 Library of Congress PG3476.C485Z47313 1988 | Dewey Decimal 891.7342
For years Lydia Chukovskaya's support for persecuted writers cut her off from her own audience. Even her name was banned in the USSR, and she was expelled from the Union of Writers in 1974. Though unable to publish at home and cut off from contacts with readers and editors, Chukovskaya continued to write. To the Memory of Childhood, her loving chronicle of growing up beside the Gulf of Finland with her father, the writer Kornei Chukovsky, reveals the sources of her strength and her belief in the power of the written word.
Her father is a household name in Russia because of his tales in verse for children. But his literary accomplishments ranged far beyond bedtime stories. As a critic he wrote controversial articles and lively profiles of cultural figures; as a translator he introduced Whitman, Twain, Kipling, and Wilde to Russian readers. When his children's literature was attacked in the 1920s and 1930s, he turned to editing, scholarship, and articles on translation. A man of boundless energy, he played a vital role in his country's cultural life until his death in 1969. "I am not writing Kornei Ivanovich's biography," Chukovskaya says, "but he was the author of my childhood."
Shloyme-Zanvl Rappoport, known to the world as An-sky, was the author of The Dybbuk, the best known work of Yiddish/ Hebrew theater. During a tumultuous life, he left his mark on a dizzying array of political and cultural movements, Russian and Jewish, and seemingly crossing paths with just about every significant member of the radical intelligentsia of his time. Born in the Pale of Settlement in 1863, An-sky experimented with a variety of identities across virtually his entire adult life, from Jewish Enlightener to Russian Populist, writer, ethnographer, Zionist, and finally, Jewish communal relief worker during the cataclysms of the First World War. An-sky is a singularly interesting historical figure as he, like few others, encapsulates a crucial era of Jewish history - an era that marked the birth of modern Jewish politics and a modern, secular Jewish culture.
Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (?????? ??????? ? ?????? ????????????) is an early book-length essay by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky which he composed while traveling in western Europe. Many commentators believe that in the themes it explores, the essay anticipates his later work Notes from the Underground.
In June 1862, Dostoevsky left Petersburg on his first excursion to Western Europe. Ostensibly making the trip to consult Western specialists about his epilepsy, he also wished to see firsthand the source of the Western ideas he believed were corrupting Russia. Over the course of his journey he visited a number of major cities, including Berlin, Paris, London, Florence, Milan, and Vienna. He recorded his impressions in Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, which were first published in the February 1863 issue of Vremya (Time), the periodical of which he was the editor.
Among other themes, Dostoevsky reveals his Pan-Slavism, rejecting European culture as corrupt and exhorting Russians to resist the temptation to emulate or adopt European ways of life.
Yankees in Petrograd, Bosheviks in New York examines the myth of America as the Other World at the moment of transition from the Russian to the Soviet version. The material on which Milla Fedorova bases her study comprises a curious phenomenon of the waning nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—pilgrimages to America by prominent Russian writers who then created travelogues. The writers’ missions usually consisted of two parts: the physical journey, which most of the writers considered as ideologically significant, and the literary fruit of the pilgrimages. Until now, the American travelogue has not been recognized and studied as a particular kind of narration with its own canons. Arguing that the primary cultural model for Russian writers’ journey to America is Dante’s descent into Hell, Federova ultimately reveals how America is represented as the country of “dead souls” where objects and machines have exchanged places with people, where relations between the living and the dead are inverted.