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12. The Post-Soviet Homecoming of First-Wave Russian Émigré Poets and its Impact on the Reinvention of the Past

Alexandra Smith

© 2017 Alexandra Smith, CC BY 4.0

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the re-assessment of Soviet literature’s role in disseminating national identity and promoting socialist ethics became a part of the widespread re-evaluation of cultural elites, including writers, responsible for the formation of national identity constructs. In the early 1990s the inflated political value of literature in the Soviet Union became significantly discredited by numerous philological wars in Russian literary journals.1 Sadly, the withering away of the communist ideology triggered the rise of an explicitly ultra-nationalist course and a more elaborate Russophile ideology based on the notion of transnational identity. New intellectual centres in Russia began to emerge from the mid-1990s onwards and their influence on cultural policies in Putin’s Russia is becoming increasingly evident.2 Thus, for example, in December 2012, Gennadii A. Ziuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, who had appropriated various ideas of leading Russian and European right-wing thinkers including, for instance, the émigré monarchist political theorist Ivan Il’in’ (1883–1954), started chairing the Russian creative movement Russkii lad (Russian Order). It comprises some 300 patriotic and religious associations. The proclaimed aim of the movement is to protect the Russian identity against the corruption of globalisation and to unite Russians and other indigenous people in their efforts to preserve the Russian language as the most important basis ‘for unity and creativity in the country’.3 This reference to the Russian language invokes the use of Russian literature as a tool of cultural hegemony during the Late Imperial and Soviet periods. As Alexander Etkind noted, ‘Russian literature proved to be an extremely successful instrument of cultural hegemony’, especially because it enabled the standardisation of the language and the integration of a multi-ethnic community of readers on an enormous scale. As Etkind put it, ‘the Empire collapsed, but the literature outlived it’.4 The utilisation of the concept of Russia beyond borders in post-Soviet Russia — which contributed to the integration of the first wave Russian émigré culture both into the present day politics and into the pedagogical canon — might be viewed therefore as a part of the emergence of the Russophone canon which overcomes Soviet classification of literary traditions by nationality. The term russkofoniia is well described in Mikhail Gusman’s 2002 article in which it is applied to an emerging unified information space of the Russian language that characterises the community of people ‘raised in the system of the Russian language and culture’ who live or work together, irrespective of their place of residence, national boundaries and religious beliefs.5 The emergence of the Russophone canon inside and outside Russia in the 2000s has its roots in the nostalgic reinvention of the Late Imperial culture in the 1990s and in the tradition of state messianism associated with the sixteenth-century doctrine of Moscow as the Third Rome. It is largely supported by contemporary radical conservatives in Russia who aspire to achieve cultural hegemony in the collective consciousness with the help of a new mythology of the empire capable of uniting people in a new historical situation.

The present chapter will outline the history of the post-Soviet reception of émigré poetry of the first wave, with the aim of demonstrating the absence of the homogenising entity called the canon in today’s Russia, and will point to the co-existence of competing views on the role of the canon as an important aid in the production of works of art and in the formation of both national and transnational identities.

In the West, the ongoing debate about the canon triggered by the postmodernist critique of high culture tends to focus on the issue of its inclusions and exclusions. It highlights the role of institutional forms of syllabus and curriculum (administered by schools and universities) in the process of canon formation which is often defined as pedagogical canon.6 It has been argued that the mechanisms of the canonisation of various authors should be best understood ‘as a problem of the constitution and distribution of cultural capital’ and ‘as a problem of access to the means of literary production and consumption’.7 In his commentary on the recent revision of the English canon, which legitimised the moderns and re-evaluated the metaphysical poets, John Guillory notes that the redefinition of cultural capital, comprising both linguistic capital known as standard English and symbolic capital that the well-educated person is expected to possess, became possible due to literary study in universities where the use of the technique of close reading enabled students to appreciate the conceptual and linguistic difficulty of the metaphysical and modern poets.8 Yet, as Jan Gorak elucidates, nowadays the issue of the intrinsic value of works included in the canon is overshadowed by discussion of the role of educationalists and public intellectuals in the process of canon formation:

The conviction that the canon survives only by virtue of institutional control and sponsorship has made it difficult to argue for the intrinsic merit and genuine worth of the works included in it. It is traditional to suggest that some works are more linguistically or aesthetically rewarding or more humanly moving than others […]. This appeal to emotional or evaluative criteria has fallen out of favour.9

Guillory thinks that the issue of value is difficult to abandon altogether, even if the educational system should stop claiming a monopoly over the consecration of past and present day cultural consumers. In Guillory’s view, cultural producers would continue to compete for the reader and the spectator with the aim that their products be read, studied and heard. Subsequently, they would still

accumulate cultural capital in the form of ‘prestige’ or fame’ and ‘social distinctions’ reinstated on such an aesthetic basis would have to be expressed in social relations as distinctions in ‘life style’, […] as a vast enlargement of the field of aesthetic judgment.10

Guillory believes that in a cultural space of universal access, canonical works would cease to be perceived as lifeless monuments if critics were able to reform the conditions of cultural practice by using judgments in a different way.11 Guillory’s vision of the formation of canon/s in contemporary societies is only partly applicable to post-Soviet Russia because the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created a void in Russian society and led to the emergence of independent newspapers, publishing houses and internet publications which made the cultural landscape highly diverse and eclectic. At the same time, in the 1990s many conservative forces became eager to revive Russian cultural imperial hegemony and promote Russia’s role in the Eurasian space in a reinvented messianic manner. The commercialisation of Russian cultural production also became inseparable from the promotion of cultural icons and celebrities as part of the growing fascination with the glamour aspects of globalisation. The sensationalist nature of some publications created a distorted view of many writers and performers, so the traditional notion of a Soviet cultural elite located in such cultural centres as Moscow and Petersburg became undermined by the existence of several elites (comprising powerful businessmen, television producers and local authorities) residing both in the centre and at the peripheries, and involved in the formation of cultural values through the mass media, television broadcasts and cultural tourism. This process can be well illustrated by the evolution of Vladimir Nabokov’s image from one of a subversive émigré author to that of a fully canonised writer, to the effect that two museums dedicated to Nabokov opened in the 1990s — in St Petersburg and in Rozhdestveno. Yuri Leving elucidates: ‘We became full witnesses during the 1990s to the full crystallisation of Nabokov’s heritage, from hot, half-legal and ambiguous intellectual goods to an object of a heightened semiotic and marketable value’.12 After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nabokov became a best-selling author able ‘to compete with Pushkin, the pivot of Russian culture, and what is a more important barometer of popular culture, he has become a character of anecdotes’.13 Due to an increasingly popular vision of cultural activities as being autonomous from politics in the 1990s, Nabokov ‘was transformed into a shining myth of a dissident and aesthete whose subversive discourse was undermining the basis of socialist realism’.14 Likewise, the legacy of other émigré authors was turned into a useful antidote to the poisonous effects of socialist realism on the formation of the Russian national identity.

The post-Soviet revaluation of the literary canon illustrates well how the issue of canonicity can be traced to institutions (including schools, academia, critics, editors and publishers) on the one hand, and on the other hand to the notion of personal choices, lifestyles and preferences articulated by influential authors and critics involved in the creation of anthologies, textbooks and life-writing projects. Alastair Fowler’s thesis that the formation of canon pertains to the issue of genres is also relevant to the current broadening of the definition of literature in the post-Soviet period that is marked by a growing interest in memoirs, diaries, letters, occasional pieces and confessions produced by modernists inside and outside Russia.15 Modernist impressionistic and fragmented literary output has been accepted as a manifestation of different kinds of written communication that enables the reader to engage in the demystification of literary production. By contrast with the post-Soviet canon/s, the Soviet canon promoted the epic and monumental genres, especially the novel that served ‘as the official repository of state myths’.16 Party watchdogs in charge of literary activities suppressed any experimental modes of artistic expressions deviating from the norms of cultural production controlled by the state. While the canon created during Soviet times by institutions and ideologists collapsed in the 1990s, the history of post-Soviet canon formation does not amount to a story of an evolving and stabilising consensus.

The integration of Russian émigré poetry into the current process of canon formation entails a reassessment of the term canon perceived by critics and practitioners today in a variety of ways — as a sublime truth, as an artistic model, as a master work, or as a book list for educational use. The first important debates about the emergence of several coexisting twentieth-century Russian literary traditions took place in the 1970s–80s and were followed by the subsequent merger of Russian émigré literature with the output of Soviet writers after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, yet the issue of the legitimacy of a single encompassing twentieth-century canon remains problematic. This chapter will assess the reception of several major Russian émigré poets of the first wave in the post-Soviet period in the context of current debates about the canon and the notion of canonicity. It will also demonstrate how absorption of first-wave Russian émigré literature into the post-Soviet cultural landscape has led to the creation of new myths and new reductionist approaches to twentieth-century literary developments as a whole.

One prevalent approach to Russian contemporary culture pivots around the notion of nostalgia associated with the reinvention of the imperial past. Svetlana Boym, in her discussion of Iosif Brodskii’s autobiographical works, affirms that the preservation of Russian poetic language, together with its classical metrics and stanzas, functioned for Brodskii as ‘a survivalist mnemonic device’. It enabled him to create ‘an alternative space of cultural memory’.17 Such a vision of Russian language as a mnemonic device is not only relevant to Brodskii. It can be easily applied to other émigré poets as well as to post-Soviet poets who found themselves displaced in today’s Russia due to various political and social factors. Furthermore, the vision of Russian language as an embodiment of cultural memory has become widespread in a post-Soviet Russia that is generally defensive of her literary heritage in opposition to the destabilisation of the language and the existing canon undertaken by many authors, young people and media personalities who embraced the wave of liberalisation in the 1990s by creating their own alternative virtual communities with the help of the internet. Radical experiments with the Russian linguistic and literary heritage in the early 2000s triggered concerns about the destabilisation of the standard language and of the established literary canon. Many leading Russian educationalists, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and government officials responded with their own projects related to the spread of traditional values via the Russian media and the internet, including the television channel Culture, and such sites as and Priamaia rech′ (Direct Speech) at As Kåre Johan Mjør’s 2009 analysis of Russian internet resources shows, several internet libraries and web portals in Russia, including the Fundamental Electronic Library of Russian Literature and Folklore (FEB) and the site, became government sponsored.18 It was done as part of the reinforcement of the policy of kul′turnost′ (culturedness) that had been previously employed in the Soviet Union. Russian policy makers and educationalists think that the notion of culturedness had been forgotten in the 1990s when many disparate internet sites started to offer a variety of texts promoting their own idiosyncratically compiled canons and preferences.19

While the aim of the Fundamental Electronic Library is to create the most comprehensive and accurate library of Russian literary and folklore texts on line, including unofficial Soviet literature, it is largely oriented towards the Soviet canon, comprising a selection of Russian literature and folklore preserved and circulated during the Soviet period through scholarly and authoritative editions of literary works. Mjør explains:

Having become a fundamental value in Soviet society, kul′turnost′ was not only propagated by the authorities, but also supported by the intelligentsia. In particular in the post-Stalin period, kul′turnost′ came above all to be seen as manifesting itself in the reading of books.20

Mjør links the notion of culturedness existing in Russia and outside Russia before the post-Soviet period to the creation of the Russian canon. The version of the canon that is currently transmitted and preserved in the FEB has its roots in late Imperial Russia and was maintained with some adjustments during the Soviet period. Mjør elucidates:

As argued by Jeffrey Brooks, its emergence was tightly connected to quests for a new secular Russian national identity, in which educated Russians such as Vissarion Belinskii saw nineteenth-century literature as well-suited for drawing the common man into a unified Russian culture.21

The appropriation of Russian émigré poets’ outputs in today’s Russia might be seen as a vivid manifestation of the Russian cultural elite’s longing for pre-revolutionary values, institutions, national unity and educational practices. This trend might be explained by the striking analogy between displaced Russian intellectuals of the 1920s who fled Russia after the 1917 October Revolution and Russian intellectuals in the 1990s who had to adjust themselves to the loss of Soviet imperial culture.

Greta Slobin’s 2001 examination of how works written in the 1920s–1950s in the Russian diaspora have been integrated into the literary landscape in the late 1980s–1990s also points to the presence of nostalgic overtones in Russia’s quest for a new national identity. Slobin attests: ‘We see the complexity of this process in the contested versions of nationalism, tinged with a heady mix of imperial, orthodox, and postcommunist nostalgia, that are shaping both the memory and the history of the past’.22 Slobin goes on to say that ‘in the absence of a coherent political ideology, Russia’s transformation is haunted by meta-narratives and cultural systems that can be defined as “prerevolutionary, Soviet and émigré”’.23 She argues that the heterogeneous makeup of the first-wave émigré community might have been instrumental in the post-Soviet quest for unity and points to similarities between celebrations of Pushkin’s 1937 anniversary that took place both in Russia and outside Russia. It appears that émigré rituals aimed at preserving the Russian canon served as models imitated in post-Soviet Russia, so superseding the sense of the rupture of the cultural tradition when seen through the prism of Soviet ideology.

The post-Soviet reception of émigré authors turned them into heroes due to their sense of moral duty, and their efforts to preserve the classical nineteenth-century canon have been perceived as a symbol of a nation able to counteract the rupture caused by the division of Russian culture. Slobin states:

The cult of Aleksandr Pushkin was central for this purpose, and in 1925 a host of educational institutions issued an appeal to organize an annual ‘Day of Russian Culture’ to be celebrated on the poet’s birthday. Holding an annual cultural celebration helped to provide a sense of unity and continuity for the émigré communities across the globe from Berlin to Shanghai.24

According to Mark Raeff, members of the Russian diaspora were determined to carry on in their adopted countries ‘a meaningful Russian life’.25 The focus on unity highlighted in Raeff’s and Slobin’s studies derives from the established framework favoured by many historians and social scientists who link nation-building tendencies to the formation of modern states. As William Robinson observes, the nation-state framework of analysis ‘continues to guide much macro-social inquiry despite recognition among scholars that globalization involves fundamental change in our paradigmatic reference points’.26 Robinson thinks that scholars do not take account of ‘the truly systemic change represented by globalisation’ and, consequently, their research into transnationalism unfolds ‘within the straitjacket of a nation-state framework’.27 He points to the limitations of nation-state conceptualisations as useful tools for explaining a phenomenon that is transnational in nature. This observation resonates well with the reception of works by Russian diaspora writers in the post-Soviet period because many critics and scholars fail to see the impact of globalisation on the patterns of readership and the construction of identity inside and outside Russia today.

In order to understand the post-Soviet reception of first-wave Russian émigré culture, it is necessary to deconstruct the myth of the prevalence of unifying tendencies of the Russian diaspora in the 1920s–1940s. It was reinforced by the television documentary series Russkie bez Rossii, 2003–2005 (Russians Without Russia, 2003–2005) directed and presented by Nikita Mikhalkov, a prominent Russian filmmaker known for his nationalistic views, not least his admiration for the Russian monarchy and the White Army movement. One film from the series entitled Russkii vybor (The Russian Choice) features Viktor Leonidov’s song ‘Son’ (‘The Dream’)28 in which the lyric hero encounters in his dream many participants in the White Army movement dispersed all over the world and living parallel lives in France and China simultaneously with present-day Russians. The use of montage in the film helps to promote the message of the simultaneous existence of different historical epochs. Leonidov’s song, sung in the style of Vladimir Vysotskii’s ballads, portrays White Army officers as one collective body united by their loyalty to the Tsar and their Motherland, invoking thereby a sense of nostalgia and patriotic sentiments. Leonidov’s song functions as a nostalgic gesture in the film and illustrates the hybrid nature of post-Soviet melancholy permeated with postmodernist overtones which are often entwined with apocalyptic rhetoric. The song creates an imaginary community of Russian heroes who need to protect Russian values from the corruptive influences of globalisation and from the oblivion of the legacy of Russian diaspora. Yet it does not call for any radical change of the post-Soviet cultural situation characterised by the co-existence of competing processes of remembering and forgetting. One can even detect in Leonidov’s song a self-ironising gesture that mocks modern Russian men as lacking the characteristics of true heroes due to a crisis of masculinity in post-Soviet Russia. ‘Despite the apocalyptic rhetoric that often accompanies it’, states Linda Hutcheon, ‘the postmodern marks neither a radical Utopian change nor a lamentable decline to hyperreal simulacra’.29 Hutcheon’s thesis about the ironising and self-ironising discourses produced by postmodernist texts implies that they do not shatter culture but contest and challenge it from within. Indeed, both Leonidov’s song in particular and the post-Soviet cultural landscape as a whole encompass several disparate tendencies related to the idea of modernisation and the recycling of the usable past which results in the ironising of the inability of the post-Soviet audience to reinvent grand narratives in a non-totalising way.

Mikhalkov’s series devoted to the life of Russian émigré communities of the first wave failed to produce a coherent image of the Russian diaspora. The project highlights the existence of conflicting ideological and cultural trends and articulates the discontinuities of cultural memory in Russia shaped by memory wars and various interpretations of the past. Yet we can see that the idea of the unity of the Russian émigré community in the 1920s–1940s was celebrated in Mikhalkov’s series in such a way that the emphasis on Russian spiritual values became reinforced. Such a vision of the Russian diaspora as a homogenious group preoccupied with the preservation of Russian spiritual values could easily be exposed as a post-Soviet myth, especially because Russian émigré communities were located in many parts of the world. Furthermore, many cultural groups were divided due to political, religious and personal beliefs. Despite the search for unity in the 1920s–1940s and the establishment of many publishing houses, churches, schools and centres responsible for promoting Russian culture abroad, there were many tensions and disagreements even within seemingly coherently organised associations and groups. Even such a well-established Parisian émigré journal as Sovremennye zapiski (Contemporary Annals), defined by Simon Karlinsky as ‘the finest Russian literary journal of the post-revolutionary period’, relied on the expertise and aesthetic sensibilities of many prominent editors, including Vadim Rudnev, who were determined to make idiosyncratic modernist writing to fit their notions of realistic and accessible literature. ‘The five Socialist Revolutionary politicians who started Contemporary Annals in 1920, and the editors of The Latest News, like the majority of pre-revolutionary radicalized intelligentsia’, writes Karlinsky, ‘were not affected by the broadening of cultural horizons brought about by Sergei Diaghilev and the symbolist movement at the turn of the century’.30

The cultural roots of the editors of several émigré publications were comparable to the roots of Lenin and Lev Trotskii. They were shaped by the radical utilitarianism found in the works of nineteenth-century critics and writers, including Belinskii, Nikolai Dobroliubov and Nikolai Chernyshevskii. Karlinsky lists a few examples of severe censorship undertaken by émigré editors in relation to the works of Marina Tsvetaeva, Nabokov and Dmitrii Chizhevskii. While Nabokov was asked to delete one chapter from his novel Dar (The Gift), because its satirical portrayal of Chernyshevskii was not to the liking of the editors of Sovremennye zapiski, Chizhevskii’s book on Nikolai Gogol′ (published by the journal in 1938) appeared in such a form that all references to devils were removed, although most of them were mentioned in quotations from Gogol’s works.31

It would be wrong therefore to understand the views of those émigré critics and authors who worked towards autonomy of national culture and its separation from the state as being representative of the whole community of Russian intellectuals abroad. Given that many Russian émigré authors had close contacts with their European counterparts and were engaged in many cultural activities organised by French, German and British writers, it would be better to see Russian émigré literature of the 1920s–1940s as a tradition complementing Soviet and European cultural developments of that period. In his 1937–1939 notes on Russian émigré culture, Vladislav Khodasevich highlights the differences between Soviet and émigré literary developments and focuses on the different understanding of artistic sensibilities: ‘The differences are deeper and much more striking: they are in the language, in style, in the voice, in the very concepts of the nature and function of artistic creativity’.32 Khodasevich’s observation of the differences of the two traditions has been forgotten today. It can be argued that for contemporary readers and educationalists one attraction to the works of Russian émigré authors of the first wave lies in how their literary output provides additional links to the past and to alternative visions of Russian twentieth-century history which were largely muted and suppressed in the Soviet period. In Slobin’s opinion, the most valuable link offered by Russian émigré writings ‘to the pre-revolutionary renaissance of philosophy and the arts during the so-called Silver Age that was curtailed under Iosif Stalin yet continued abroad’ has been the eagerness of post-Soviet authors to expand their linguistic and cultural knowledge in order to promote their innovations and engagements with the tradition.33 Yet many post-Soviet interpretations of Russian first-wave culture offer a useful insight into the existence of competing discourses related to the search for national unity today. The post-Soviet re-evaluation of the literary output of the Russian diaspora of the 1920s–1950s, maintains Slobin, ‘presents an interesting case of “partisan” appropriation of the past and of its suppressed history and memory’.34 The re-examination of Russian religious philosophical thought of the 1880s–1920s by post-Soviet critics, artists and thinkers is subordinated to the traditional Russian spirituality that today is also seen as an antidote to Soviet culture and to globalisation.

Furthermore, in the last twenty years the imaginary community created by Russian nationalists and conservatives has become entwined with the notion of imaginary geographies. According to Edith Clowes, unlike the Soviet identity ‘linked to a vision of the Soviet state at the vanguard of history’, major Russian cultural figures and public intellectuals tend to present their vision of post-Soviet identity with the help of spatial metaphors.35 The tendency to spatialise cultural memory and historical continuity discussed in Clowes’s book can be well illustrated by the existence of several Tsvetaeva monuments erected in Moscow, Bashkiriia, Tatarstan, Tarusa and France as well as by the special commemorations known as ‘the Tsvetaeva fires’ that take place all over the world around her birthday in October. Although no works written by Tsvetaeva were published widely or studied by schoolchildren in Russia before 1991, today they are being appropriated for the formation of local, national and global identities.

The reception of Tsvetaeva in today’s Russia is very different from the more personal engagements with Tsvetaeva’s poetry found in Russian émigré writing of the third wave émigré community and in the works of Russian dissidents of the 1970s–1980s. In general, their works related to Tsvetaeva were more oriented towards philosophical and metaphysical themes rather than ideological concerns. Thus Brodskii, in contrast to post-Soviet nationalists, comments on Tsvetaeva’s use of the tradition of lamentation in her long poem ‘Novogodnee’ (‘Happy New Year’), dedicated to Rainer Maria Rilke. He highlights Tsvetaeva’s ability to express modern sensibility rather than Russian national identity. He says that the poem endeavours ‘to transmit the psychology of modern man by means of traditional folk poetics’ and ‘it gives an impression of linguistic justification for any fracture or dislocation of the modern sensibility’.36 The Scottish contemporary poet Christopher Whyte (currently residing in Budapest), who recently translated this poem into English, affirms that Tsvetaeva’s ‘Novogodnee’ is ‘a crucial event in European poetry between the wars’.37

By contrast with Brodskii and Whyte, Sofia Gubaidulina, an important Russian-German composer of the post-war period, talks in spatial terms about her personal connection with Tsvetaeva (whose poetry she used for her vocal music on several occasions in the 1970s–1990s). In a 1995 interview with Vera Lukomsky, Gubaidulina states:

I feel a very special connexion to Marina Tsvetaeva. Marina ended her own life (in suicide) in the small town Elabuga, very close to Chistopol′, my place of birth. Both cities are located between two rivers, the Volga and the Kama. I lived in Chistopol′ for the first seven months of my life. Nevertheless I feel a significant symbol in our geographic closeness: I started where she finished’.38

At the same time, for Gubaidulina Tsvetaeva stands out as a symbol of resistance to Soviet ideology and vulgarity.

Like Brodskii, Gubaidulina is interested in the metaphysical aspects of Tsvetaeva’s poetry but she does not link them to the transnational and cosmopolitan identities embedded in her poems. The composer proclaims Tsvetaeva as a saint-like figure concerned with metaphysical and spiritual values:

Her fate was extremely tragic: she was destroyed by the vulgarity of Soviet ideology, the aggressiveness of the Soviet system. I decided to make percussion the medium representing Marina’s soul, her irrationality and mysticism. Her musical antagonists are Soviet popular and patriotic songs, representing vulgarity and the aggressiveness of the common crowd as bred by the Soviet system.39

A stronger verdict regarding Tsvetaeva’s victimhood is inserted into the concluding paragraph of Irma Kudrova’s biography of Tsvetaeva:

Gumilev who was shot; Kliuev and Mandel′shtam who disappeared in the Gulag; Meierkhol′d and Babel′ who were executed… Marina Tsvetaeva who was noble, independent and brilliant belongs to the same group of victims of the great socialist revolution.40

Kudrova’s and Gubaidulina’s views on Tsvetaeva’s legacy are representative of the large group of the post-Stalin readers who were inspired by the Thaw cultural liberalisation and who see the post-Soviet period as a continuation of the de-Stalinisation of the 1960s.

Yet Tsvetaeva’s physical displacement — cultivated in her poetry as an important trope and as an existential condition of any poet — appears to accord with the portrayal of Russian identity constructed from spatial metaphors that extends beyond the traditional sense of identity confined to geographical borders. In Clowes’s opinion,

Many major voices in the contemporary debate move beyond the traditional concepts of nation defined by language, kinship, ethnic group, shared history, though virtually all either cling to or interrogate a crucial characteristic of national identity — geographical territory and its symbolic meanings.41

Clowes finds this type of identity comparable to the notion of hybrid identity foregrounded in postcolonial theory and suggests that its emergence takes place through the metaphors of territorial border and periphery. This tendency is visible in the attempt by many post-Soviet performers and critics to present Tsvetaeva as a multicultural figure that stimulates the creation of communities of like-minded individuals inside and outside Russia with the help of various museums, commemorative plaques, and monuments located in Tarusa, Moscow, Elabuga, Aleksandrov, Feodosiia, Bolshevo, Prague and Vshenory as well as in locations in Germany and France.

Fig. 12.1 Commemorative plaque in Elabuga. © Alexandra Smith, CC BY 4.0.

A more recent monument to Tsvetaeva created by Zurab Tsereteli was unveiled in the town of St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in western France on 16 June 2012. As one newspaper reports, ‘the resort has been one of the favourite places of Russian celebrities, in various years it was visited by the composer Sergey Prokofiev, poet Konstantin Bal′mont, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and others’.42 As can be seen from the description of the French resort, a cultural landmark associated with the life of Russian émigré writers and composers is perceived as the rightful place for a monument to Marina Tsvetaeva who wrote many poems and letters to Boris Pasternak there in which she immortalised her own vision of an imagined Russian creative identity beyond geographical borders.

At the same time, one poem dedicated to the Tsvetaeva monument in Moscow penned by Ol′ga Grigor′eva, a Russian poet and journalist from Kazakhstan (Pavlodar) — who received the Tsvetaeva prize organised by the Tsvetaeva museum in Elabuga in 2008 — reinstates Moscow as an important cultural centre featuring a monument to Tsvetaeva located next to the Tsvetaeva museum on Borisoglebskii Avenue. In her 2008 poem ‘Vstretimsia u Mariny’ (‘We’ll See Each Other at Marina’s Place’) Grigor′eva describes an imaginary meeting with her friend near the Tsvetaeva monument in Moscow and suggests that they should read together a volume of Tsvetaeva’s poems on the bench near the monument. The poem concludes with the belief that Tsvetaeva’s verse will elevate them to higher realms of being and, subsequently, the two characters will join their beloved poet in heaven:

Рано иль поздно встретимся — 

Там, у Марины. Там, у нее в гостях.43

Sooner or later — We’ll meet each other at Marina’s place.

Over there. We’ll visit her over there.

In metaphysical vein, the poem refers to the otherworldly realm, suggesting that the notion of displacement is an essential part of the poetic self and that those whose sense of national belonging is neither axiomatic nor unproblematic could be offered a different vantage point: their everyday life can be seen as part of their spiritual evolution guided by Tsvetaeva.

The examples above demonstrate a shift from de-Stalinisation to the de-ideologisation linked to the reinvention of the canon. It advocates the inclusion of metaphysical poems into the canon. To this end, the rediscovery of émigré literature enabled post-Soviet readers to see cultural tradition itself as their imaginary spiritual homeland. In Slobin’s view,

The émigré sense of its ‘sacred’ mission, now combined with postcommunist nostalgia, appeared to inspire a longing for an impossible return to some version of a ‘misty’ pre-revolutionary Russia, with the ‘originary tradition’ still intact.44

Russian émigré authors’ dedication to the continuity of Russian cultural tradition, used to a large extent as a compensation for their loss of motherland, appeals to Russian nationalists today. Yet their heterogeneous cultural longings and encoded practices of accommodation of cultural norms of their host countries do not appear completely compatible with a post-Soviet mainstream culture mourning the loss of the empire. According to Slobin, the post-Soviet literary canon continues to be associated with Russian realism, due to the suppression of the modernist tradition in the Soviet Union over several decades. As she puts it, the rejection of the modernist literary experiment does not seem to be compatible ‘with a nationalist conception of the canon-traditionally identified with Russian realism’.45

In a more optimistic manner, Natalia Ivanova’s 2007 article welcomes the merger into one narrative of different branches of Russian literature, including émigré, Soviet official and underground literatures, as one of the most important features of the post-Soviet period. She also talks about the emergence of postmodernist literature as a mainstream literature rooted in the Thaw-era cultural experiments of the 1960s. For Ivanova, the initial merger of different trends and alternative canon/s has resulted in a more vibrant cultural landscape. She sees the explosive clashes of different styles and worldviews triggering further diversification of Russian literature and the hybridisation of contemporary culture as an extension of the postmodern condition.46 Yet the reception of the modernist tradition, including Russian émigré poetry, continues to be shaped by Russian intellectuals and cultural figures of the 1960s–1980s who promote their own values, taste and their own version of the canon through memoirs, biographies, scholarly studies and intertextual links embedded in their poetry, vocal music and performances. The attitudes to Tsvetaeva expressed by Gubaidulina and Kudrova, discussed above, are representative of the displacement experienced by Russian intellectuals in the Soviet Union. It is not surprising that they turned to Tsvetaeva as an embodiment of displacement and of opposition to Soviet ideology. The influential Russian dissident critic, translator and scholar Efim Etkind also perceived Tsvetaeva’s works as an important antidote to Soviet ideology and vulgarity. As will be demonstrated below, his views regarding Tsvetaeva were extended to other émigré poets, including Khodasevich and Ivanov.

Etkind’s contribution to the collection of articles published and edited by Georges Nivat in 1981 — based on a conference devoted to the role of the émigré literature in Russian twentieth-century cultural developments — was a courageous attempt to challenge the Soviet canon and broaden it through the inclusion of many modernist and émigré texts. The 1981 volume provided an important forum for the Russian diaspora and presented it as a significant alternative to the cultural elite in the Soviet Union. It offers a range of approaches to émigré works that challenge the Soviet canon and question the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion applied to Soviet and Russian émigré anthologies. In his article ‘Russian Twentieth-century Poetry As a Single Movement’, Etkind names sixteen significant Russian poets who lived abroad in the 1920s–1950s and suggests that Georgii Ivanov, Khodasevich and Tsvetaeva should be viewed as the most important poets produced by the first-wave emigration.47 While Etkind agrees with the list of canonical twentieth-century poets created by Gleb Struve that includes, in addition to the above-mentioned three major poets of the Russian diaspora, seven more names (Valerii Briusov, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolai Gumilev, Fedor Sologub, Mikhail Kuzmin, Boris Pasternak, and Osip Mandel′shtam); he asserts that a further fifteen poets of the Soviet period (including Vladimir Maiakovskii, Sergei Esenin and Nikolai Kliuev) should be also regarded as major twentieth-century poets. Curiously, the list of poets discussed in Etkind’s article omits Elena Guro, Aleksei Kruchenykh, Boris Poplavskii and Velimir Khlebnikov, suggesting thereby that Russian versions of surrealism and futurism were seen by him as been alien to the Russian canon.

Despite disagreements with Struve, Etkind shares the view that in the future the Russian émigré poetic output will be integrated into the mainstream of Russian literature and will significantly enrich the canon.48 Etkind rightly points out that Russian émigré poetry absorbed many aesthetic principles and innovations of European culture and suggests that it is up to future cultural historians to assess whether the contribution of Russian émigré poets to the overall development of Russian literature was more significant than the impact on it produced by Soviet poets.49 For Etkind, the most important criterion of the vitality of Russian émigré poetry was embodied in the works of Tsvetaeva who managed to overcome ‘émigré snobbery’ and ‘provincial narrow-mindedness’ by incorporating in her works many experiments undertaken by Maiakovskii and Pasternak and by enriching her poetic language.50 Etkind’s emphasis on Tsvetaeva’s ability to attune herself to Soviet everyday language and poetic practice demonstrates his adherence to Aleksandr Potebnia’s belief that poetry embodies the most creative aspects of language, contributes to the sustainability of cultural memory and helps the reader to cognise life.51

Etkind mentions Tsvetaeva and Khodasevich as the two most significant poets of the Russian diaspora who maintained a strong interest in Soviet literary developments and whose poetry had similar traits to the output of such poets as Pasternak, Akhmatova and Mandel′shtam. In his opinion, the gap between the two strands of Russian twentieth-century poetry created by political circumstances was not very substantial. Such a view downplays the effect of the socialist realist aesthetic on poets living in the Soviet Union in the 1920s–1940s. While Etkind’s suggestion, that the formal devices used by poets inside and outside Russia were independent from the everyday life with which they engaged, might appear to be ahistorical it does reveal his view that canonicity is systemic. In accordance with such a view, all excluded texts are potentially includable in the canon. As Ross Chambers rightly points out, ‘when we accede to the idea that certain texts are in the canon while others are not, we are in fact acceding to the system of canonicity, of which the canon is a product’.52 Chambers’s thesis that ‘the supposedly canonical texts are so only by virtue of there being texts excluded from that category’ and ‘that the noncanonical works are an indispensable part of the whole system of which the canon is another part’ resonates well with Etkind’s critique of the twentieth-century literary canon created by Soviet critics and educationalists.

Given that ‘every excluded text is potentially included in the canon and every included text is a possible candidate for exclusion’53, Georges Nivat’s collection of articles about a new literary canon comprising literary texts produced both in Russia and outside Russia can be seen as a pioneering attempt to conceptualise the legacy of the Russian diaspora.54 It anticipated the debate about the Russian twentieth-century canon in the late 1980s–early 1990s. Thus the publication of works by Russian poets featured in the Soviet popular weekly Ogonek that had been initiated by Evgenii Evtushenko during perestroika raised many questions about the stability of the Soviet poetic canon. Likewise, the publication of memoirs by Irina Odoevtseva (born Iraida Heinike) that feature Odoevtseva’s participation in important pre-revolutionary cultural developments (including the Institute of the Living Word and Acmeist gatherings), her life in France and her contacts with many prominent cultural figures, including Georgii Ivanov and Georgii Adamovich, created an impression that the notion of one single Russian poetic canon had its validity. Even though Odoevtseva’s memoirs were written in the 1960s and were published by émigré publishing houses in the US and in France, her status as a living embodiment of the Silver Age was achieved largely not by her émigré writings but by her return to St Petersburg at the invitation of the Union of Writers in 1987. The fact of her return to Russia had a symbolic meaning for Russian writers and readers and influenced the subsequent rediscovery of her fiction, poetry and memoirs in the late 1980s and in the 1990s. Odoevtseva’s memoirs and her interviews with Soviet journalists and critics on her return to Russia after many years in emigration reinforced the sense of unity between the different branches of Russian twentieth-century literature. A volume of Odoevtseva’s collected writings, including her poetry and memoirs, appeared in Moscow in 1998: it was meant to promote a sense of continuity of Russian culture. Prior to this, in her 1989 interview with Ogonek, Odoevtseva mentions her wish to reconcile the two branches of Russian literature as the main reason for her return to Russia. It gave an impression that she aspired to fulfill the missionary role of the Russian diaspora to preserve and develop further Russian cultural traditions of the pre-Soviet period. ‘One cannot have a separate Russian émigré literature’, says Odoevtseva. ‘As I pointed out before, there is only one great Russian literature’. Odoevtseva’s authentic account of twentieth-century literary and cultural developments published in Russia triggered widespread interest among Russian readers who saw her as a Silver Age celebrity. While the print run of the 1988 edition of the book On the Banks of the Neva was 250,000, the 1989 edition of the book about Russian émigré culture —On the Banks of the Seine — was 500,000. In his introduction to the 1988 edition of On the Banks of the Neva, the influential Russian poet and critic Konstantin Kedrov defined Odoevtseva as a chronicler of pre-revolutionary culture and a herald of Acmeism. He also mentions Georgii Ivanov, commenting that Ivanov’s poetry has become an important part of Russian contemporary culture.55

Following several decades of oblivion in the Soviet Union, at the end of the 1980s Georgii Ivanov was declared a leading poet of the Russian diaspora. While a volume containing Ivanov’s poetry and memoirs was published in the Soviet Union in 1989, in 1994 a three-volume edition of his works appeared in Moscow and in 2006 the prestigious series New Poet’s Library published a collection of his poetry. The first biography of Georgii Ivanov — written by Vadim Kreid, the Russian-American poet, scholar, critic and editor-in-chief of the émigré journal The New Review — was published in Russia in 2007 in the famous series Zhizn′ zamechatel′nykh liudei (Lives of Remarkable People). It was followed by the publication of a second biography of Ivanov in 2009 penned by Andrei Ar′ev, St Petersburg critic and editor of a collection of Ivanov’s poetry.56 Shortly after the publication of his collections of poetry in post-Soviet Russia, Ivanov’s poetry was also appropriated by Russian popular culture. In 2012 the St Petersburg musician Aleksandr Vetrov produced a disc featuring his performance of songs based on Ivanov’s poetry and told his fans about the next project that would also transfer Khodasevich’s poetry into songs.57 Vetrov’s homage to émigré poets might be seen as a part of a larger trend to revive the modernist tradition in Russia, especially the Silver Age, that has become glamourised by contemporary films, mass media and popular culture.58

Due to a growing interest in the 1990s–2000s to the Silver Age, the terms ‘modernism’ and ‘the Silver Age’ have become interchangeable in the post-Soviet popular imagination. This tendency has its roots in Russia’s non-conformist artistic circles in the 1950s and 1960s. Boris Ivanov wrote that Russian non-conformist poets of the 1970s, including Petersburg poet Viktor Krivulin, embraced the legacy of the Silver Age in the same way as European medieval artists and writers had created their own image of antiquity. Elena Ignatova’s article ‘Who are we?’, first published in the literary journal Neva in 1992, also identifies the presence of a nostalgic longing for the Silver Age among the dissidents of the 1960s–1980s.59

Galina Rylkova’s study features several writers and poets (including Akhmatova, Mikhail Kuzmin, Vladimir Nabokov, Boris Pasternak and Viktor Erofeev) who have contributed to the mythologising of historical and cultural developments associated with the Silver Age. She argues that, despite its occupation of a unique place in the Russian collective memory for several decades, its distinct function as an enigmatic ‘other’ during the Soviet period prevented it from becoming a sustainable realm of memory in post-Soviet times. In Rylkova’s view, the Silver Age’s role in the Russian collective memory has been downplayed by the erasure of the Bolshevik Revolution from the political and cultural landscape of today’s Russia. Thus the celebration of the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution on 7 November was replaced by the Den′ narodnogo edinstva (Day of Popular Unity), celebrated for the first time on 4 November 2005. Rylkova thinks that the Silver Age, which was seen as the main enemy of the 1917 Revolution, might ‘sink into oblivion not because of the revolution but together with the revolution’ as a result of such an association with one of the major political events in twentieth-century history.60

The tendency to see Russian émigré writing as part of the Silver Age and its legacy continues visibly in today’s Russia. It is strongly felt in Nikolai Bogomolov’s review of Ar′ev’s biography of Georgii Ivanov, which benefits from well-researched contextual details of Ivanov’s life, thereby serving as an insightful account of cultural life of the Silver Age and of the Russian diaspora in France.61 Bogomolov concludes that Ar′ev’s publications enabled Ivanov to return to Russia, after a long period of oblivion in his native land and of limited recognition outside Russia, as ‘a rightful creator of Russian literature’.62 D. D. Nikolaev’s review highlights the canonical status of Georgii Ivanov in the post-Soviet period more boldly: it claims that the task of any biography published in the series Lives of Remarkable People is not to engage in literary debates with fellow critics but to put the subject of one’s study on a pedestal.63 It should be noted here that the vision of poets as biographical subjects — which stems from the recognition of a new poet-hero in the early modern period — constitutes a relatively new development in the history of Russian biography.64 The inclusion of biographies of Russian émigré poets in the series Lives of Remarkable People — run by F. F. Pavlenkov in 1890–1924 and re-started by Maxim Gor′kii in 1933 — suggests that the post-Soviet culture is still oriented towards the canon formation which became solidified during the pre-Soviet and Soviet periods. This might be explained by how Russian cultural traditions were largely shaped by the emergence of the secular culture in Russia in the eighteenth century, which was oriented towards the preservation of many cultural values of antiquity. In the last three hundred years, the neo-classical themes were often used by early modern and modern Russian authors for self-canonisation purposes. Anna Makolkin also points to the link between biographies and eulogies:

At least through the end of the eighteenth century, change is the defining quality of Russian biography, as heroic blends into postheroic and preheroic phases, and a new subject — the poet — emerges. Russian biography during this period was awaiting the new saint, the poet, but remains deeply rooted in the eternal mourning song, the eulogy, and the transhistoric, transcultural praise of the departed.65

Likewise, the presentation of Georgii Ivanov as a friend of Nikolai Gumilev and as a saint-like hero victimised by the 1917 October Revolution in post-Soviet biographies, suggests that a representation of a life has a definite pattern and is closely linked to the reshaping of the existing canon. Given that Kreid and Ar′ev were familiar with Georgii Ivanov’s works during the Soviet period, either through foreign publications (tamizdat) or through the journals and books published in Russia in the 1910s–1920s, it would appear natural to them to consider Ivanov as a living embodiment of the displacement of the Silver Age in the post-Soviet period and to include him in the twentieth-century poetic canon.66

Following the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Georgii Ivanov’s birth in Russia in 1994 and the subsequent publication of his books, his biographies and several Ph.D. theses, it is not surprising that his poetry has become part of the contemporary cultural landscape characterised by a search for new saint-like heroes. It is not coincidental that for biographies like Kreid’s, Ivanov’s poetry appears permeated with the idea of spiritual quest and religious attitudes towards creativity, despite the many nihilist overtones embedded in his works.67 The post-war generation of critics and poets influenced by the Thaw period sees the widespread nihilism and commercialisation of Russian culture in the 1990s as something that should be remedied. In their eyes, Russian émigré poetry of the 1920s–1950s, including the poetry of Georgii Ivanov, serves as a repository of cultural and spiritual values of the pre-revolutionary period that could reconnect post-Soviet readers with Russian pre-Soviet culture. At the same time, the widespread appeal of Georgii Ivanov’s poetry to post-Soviet readers and musicians of the younger generation (including Tat′iana Aleshina, who included her songs based on his poetry in a special double-disc album dedicated to the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg, and Aleksandr Vetrov68) lies in how its ironic and decadent overtones, inseparable from the perception of life as part of the collapse of grand narratives, accord well with Russian contemporary poetry’s manifestations of the crisis of humanism which, according to Mikhail Epstein, ‘reached its maturity’. Epstein explains:

The movement of lyric poetry beyond the sphere of the lyric ‘I’ reveals the depths of a new experience, which is more primordial, more originary, and hence more holistic. Its structuredness and trans-subjectivity […] are best described in religious terms, even if this description has no immediate connection to any concrete religious tradition. The essential thing is not the object of representation, but the subject of enunciation […] The elusive subject, as a consequence of all the processes of dis-embodiment and ‘depersonalisation’, cannot help manifesting the characteristics of a transcendental subjectivity.69

Commenting on such poets as Ol′ga Sedakova, Ivan Zhdanov, Alexei Parshchikov and Il′ia Kutik, Epstein suggests that they have incorporated into their poetry those words that have not turned yet into clichés and ‘placed them under high tension’ in order ‘to reveal the structure of a multidimensional reality’.70

Certainly, these authors belong to the generation of poets who achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. That is why their vision of the Russian cultural tradition deviates from the binary oppositions of the Soviet period which pivot around the Soviet and anti-Soviet attitudes towards culture. Their vision of culture might be defined as neo-classical or even neo-Acmeist. It includes many allusions not only to Russian modernist and Romantic poets but also to eighteenth-century Russian poets, European poets (especially to Dante, Goethe and Rilke), and to classical poets (including Catullus, Ovid, and Horace). Their works foreground the notion of metarealism, which indicates the shift from the vision of poetry as a means of political resistance to the understanding of poetry as an important tool of the preservation of cultural memory.

In his 2007 book on Russian poetry, Igor′ Shaitanov also detects many signs of alienation from society, and self-alienation, in post-Soviet poetry that show in the language of silence. It is revealed through the expression of autodestruction or self-transcendence. Shaitanov’s definition of the language of silence derives from Ihab Hassan’s description of postmodern art as an embodiment of reflexive energy and of the introversion of the alienated will that give rise to ‘the arts of silence, of the void, and of death’ as well as to ‘the languages of omission, ambiguity, games, and numbers’.71 According to Shaitanov, the emergence of postmodern tendencies in the post-Soviet period resulted in a different attitude towards tradition which is invoked in contemporary poetry either through palimpsest-like writing or through the employment of centos. He refers to the prevalence of a hybrid mode of writing that comprises both palimpsest and centos. It enables the reader to recognise the humorous juxtaposition of famous lines in a new semantic matrix and appreciate the diversity of sources of various poetic texts. In Shaitanov’s opinion, this type of poetic expression subverts the notion of continuity and cultural memory since it is oriented towards amnesia and absurdity and makes the meaning of the poem unstable.72 Viewed in this light, Ivanov’s poetry accords well with the post-Soviet sense of disorientation, amnesia and self-ironising discourse manifested in the work of many leading authors, including Elena Shvarts, Genrikh Sapgir and Timur Kibirov, to name just a few.

As Eric Laursen points out, Ivanov’s highly autobiographical and confessional émigré poetry contains a dialogue conducted by a split self acting like a two-headed Janus ‘who simultaneously gazes at the beloved past and the hopeless present’.73 In Laursen’s opinion, a striking feature of Ivanov’s paradoxical and distinctive lyric poetry is the co-existence of two opposing visions of hope and despair that ‘merge into distorting reflections of one another’.74 Ivanov’s ability to express his melancholic longing for the past and his inability to revive it might be especially appealing to a post-Soviet reader grappling with the revision of the Soviet and pre-Soviet past. To a large extent, the first-wave émigré poets serve as role models for contemporary authors attempting the construction of a transnational identity and for overcoming the sense of discontinuity of the tradition interrupted by Soviet cultural policies.

The above-discussed treatment of the works of Tsvetaeva and Ivanov in the post-Soviet period exemplifies Theodor Adorno’s thesis that ‘artworks have a life sui generis’: they ‘constantly divulge new layers’, grow old and die, and, as products of social labour, they ‘speak by virtue of the communication of everything particular to them’ and ‘communicate with the empirical experience that they reject and from which they draw their content’.75 In Adorno’s view, ‘art perceived strictly aesthetically is art aesthetically misperceived’ since art is both autonomous and not autonomous.76 Evgenii Evtushenko’s 1994 anthology of twentieth-century Russian poetry comprising 875 poets exemplifies Adorno’s thesis about the limitations of strictly aesthetic criteria applied to literary and artistic production.77 Although Evtushenko envisaged his anthology as a poetic textbook on Russian twentieth-century history, many critics found his selection of poems and commentaries highly subjective and arbitrary.78 Mikhail Gasparov defined it as a book for easy reading rather than an anthology due to its eccentric selection of poems that do not represent all the poetic trends and literary developments of the twentieth century.

Gasparov’s review poses an important question about the notion of canonicity and suggests that Evtushenko’s system of cultural values reflects the taste of the generation of readers and authors born in the 1930s. Furthermore, Gasparov thinks that the inclusion of many poets of the Soviet period into Evtushenko’s anthology indicates how most of the twentieth-century literary output was inseparable from Soviet experiences and historical events.79 Given that Evtushenko’s desire to produce an anthology of Russian twentieth-century poetry was inspired by his conversations with Georgii Adamovich, a minor Acmeist poet but influential critic of the Russian diaspora in Paris, it might be possible to see how Evtushenko’s anthology was shaped by the creative dialogue between two important representatives of different currents of Russian twentieth-century poetry. The anthology also exemplifies Evtushenko’s personal desire to create a new national literary canon, fulfilling thereby his own messianic role as poet-prophet and poet-educator dedicated to the nineteenth-century ideal of linking poetic activities with the notions of civic and moral duty.80

The striking presence of Russian twentieth-century émigré poets on the internet, including Brodskii, Georgii Ivanov and Tsvetaeva, suggest that there might be some aesthetic as well as extra-literary factors that have contributed to the promotion of these poets in today’s Russia. It is plausible that Georgii Ivanov and Tsvetaeva occupy an important place in the post-Soviet cultural landscape not only because their poetry accords well with today’s search for a new national identity but also because their poetic selves represent the manifestation of the subjectivity, individualism, dialogicity and the lyric ‘I’ entwined with elegiac overtones that were largely suppressed in the Soviet period. The melancholic mode of expression was seen as something that stood in sharp contrast to the socialist realist aesthetic oriented towards an optimistic, futuristic and heroic representation of reality.

In her recent study on lyric poetry and modern politics in Russia and in Poland, Clare Cavanagh provides a good summary of many views antagonistic to the expression of individualism in Soviet times. She notes that Aleksandr Bogdanov’s post-revolutionary manifesto welcomes the replacement of the lyric ‘I’ with the notion of lyric comradeship and claims that Soviet proletarian poetry foregrounded the collective as the most basic creator of poetry. She goes on to say:

By the end of the twenties, Boris Eikhenbaum laments, both ‘personal poetry’ (the lyric) and ‘the lyric “I” were virtually taboo’. […] In his speech, Bukharin derides the ‘anti-realistic lyric’, with its unsocialist attachment to otherworldly imaginings. Bakhtin was very much Bukharin’s comrade-in-arms in this, if little else.81

Cavanagh’s analysis of the construction of the self in Soviet poetry suggests that the polyphonic mode of poetic speech that became evident in Russian poetry in the 1930s might have been influenced by the rise of the Soviet novel. These novels were oriented towards the construction of epic modes of artistic expression and the glorification of contemporary heroes who devoted their lives to the attainment of a radiant socialist future. In contrast, Tsvetaeva’s and Georgii Ivanov’s works offer a different vision of the notions of the heroic and of the lyric from those found in socialist realist canonical narratives. That is why their popularity among post-Soviet readers might be partially explained by the radical departure from Soviet literary practices and by the search for a more sophisticated mode of artistic expression attuned with the anxieties of post-Soviet readers affected by the experience of discontinuity caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Given the didactic nature of socialist realism, it is not surprising that many theoretical studies devoted to it highlight the role of the positive hero in Soviet canonical texts. Comparing the representation of the positive hero in Soviet mainstream fiction to the self-representation of gladiators in ancient Rome, Régine Robin suggests that the positive hero found in Soviet fiction in particular, and in the aesthetic of socialist realism in general, accomplished an important task that enabled the writer ‘to maintain enthusiasm at the level of the great historical tragedy’ and conceal not ‘the narrow content of the struggle’ but ‘rather the price to be paid for the construction of socialism, the lost generation, the uncertainty of the future’.82 Having taken a cue from Mikhail Bakhtin on dialogicity and polyphony as prerequisites for the novelistic genre, Robin explains her theoretical position about the impossibility of writing socialist realist narratives in these terms:

‘Impossible’ refers to the theoretical contradictions, to the aporias of that aesthetic, to the nature of the particular combination that it puts into figures: epics, heroic narratives, legendary verse-chronicles that take on the forms of verisimilitude, realism, and representation.83

Robin’s conviction that ‘the postulates of realism as aesthetic constraint and textual convention are incompatible’ with socialist realism’s insistence on the use of ‘revolutionary Romanticism’, ‘certainty in the vector of history’, ‘control of the imaginary’ and ‘mandatory monologism’ is strongly felt in her verdict suggesting that the death of socialist realism as an aesthetic ‘preceded the death of the Soviet Union by twenty to thirty years’ due to how it ‘has been replaced by all sorts of genres and writings, from country prose to a new urban prose than no longer conceals the harsh conditions of everyday life’.84 In her comments on the post-perestroika diversification of genres and narratives, Robin offers an apt assessment of the way the past reconstructs itself in today’s Russia: ‘From silence and taboo to lapse of memory, from repression to censorship, from the political rewriting of history to re-readings of public opinion and fiction’.85 Likewise, the post-Soviet poetic canon in making is inevitably associated either with lamenting the death of socialist realism or with reinventing the past. Such a mythopoeic reinvention of the past enables post-Soviet readers to come to terms with the collapse of grand narratives (including Marxism and socialist realism).

As has been demonstrated above, many contemporary interpretations of the present state of Russian literature are still expressed in binary terms and highlight either the official-dissident or Soviet-émigré divisions of Russian twentieth-century literary traditions. In his book on post-Soviet literature, N. N. Shneidman suggests that the binary opposition applicable to late Soviet literary developments has been transformed into another set of oppositions that manifest two distinct literary ideological trends in Russia. He writes:

In the late Soviet era there were two distinct streams of literature: official Soviet literature and underground, anti-Soviet samizdat and tamizdat literature. In the USSR Soviet underground literature was taboo, but it was published, recognized, and studied in the West, regardless of its artistic merit.86

Shneidman also talks about the ideological split between the conservatives and liberals in post-Soviet Russia that is reflected in the organisational framework of the writers’ community and the existence of two antagonistic unions of Russian writers which has been partially overcome by the efforts of some writers and cultural figures to gain access to the Russian state’s financial and political support. Shneidman provides this summary of the latest divergent ideological literary streams:

One includes all liberal writers, regardless of their artistic inclinations; the other incorporates all Russian conservative, ‘patriotic’ writers. Since there is no censorship in Russia, and the country has a multi-party political system, the literature of both streams is published without interference from, or censorship by, state authorities. The literature of each stream has its own readership, and representatives of the two groups criticise and attack each other on political and ideological grounds. Most western Slavists and literary scholars ignore the literature of Russian ‘patriotic’ writers, despite the fact that this literature represents an important social and cultural, albeit not artistic, phenomenon.87

Shneidman’s description of post-Soviet literary trends does not take account of the appropriation and reassessment of the usable past, including socialist realist canonical texts and Russian émigré literature of the first wave. It seems that the aesthetic concerns of Russian writers in the post-Soviet period are not always bound up with a clear-cut political outlook. They tend to change in accordance with dominant commercial trends, spontaneously-arising fashionable fads, and social concerns. Shneidman overlooks how post-Soviet subjectivity is an important factor that affects many literary and cultural developments in today’s Russia, especially because of its immense influence on the eclectic state of the post-Soviet memory wars, sites of memory and the reinvention of tradition. Barret Watten explains that ‘the break-up of official culture, even the “official/unofficial” dialectic that was a part of it, in the Soviet Union led to aesthetic developments characterised by an intense, utopian, and metaphysically speculative subjectivity’ that derives from the early postmodern tendencies that were visible in the 1960s.88 Watten identifies the eclectic and all-inclusive nature of post-Soviet subjectivity and affirms that it incorporates both western and Russian aesthetic trends, including American pop culture (exemplified by Andy Warhol’s paintings) and Reagan-era consumerism (illustrated by Jeff Koons’s works).

It is difficult not to agree with Watten’s observation that the culture of Russian modernism has been refracted through Western connoisseurship and that its reinterpretation in the new post-Soviet context created a new sense of discontinuity because the vision of it which has emerged does not correspond to its historical origins.89 Thus Aleksei German Junior’s illusion of unity inscribed into his film Garpastum with the help of the depiction of Silver Age poets, who appear as close friends in his film (despite the physical impossibility of this fact), creates an imaginary space in the style of the photography and cinematography of the 1910s. The group of poets and performers shown in this film includes Akhmatova, Aleksandr Blok, Mandel′shtam, Khodasevich, Nikolai Gumilev, Aleksandr Vertinskii and Tsvetaeva. In Antony Anemone’s opinion, a central theme of the film is the role of art in social and political life:

The final crisis of the film concerns the status of art in the modern world. For Andrei, Anitsa’s salon is about the sexual, not artistic, revolution, and his inability to recognize the significance of Blok (Gosha Kutsenko) and the other members of the salon suggests a growing gap between artist and audience. Both Blok and Anitsa, by comparison, recognize that the war represents the end of an era. And Blok goes on to suggest the possibility that his generation’s assumptions about the centrality of art and the intelligentsia are mistaken: if they suddenly were to disappear, would anyone notice?90

The crisis of individualism entwined with the crisis of masculinity in Garpastum enables the post-Soviet director to demystify several taboo subjects of the Soviet period, including sexuality and mental problems. The film touches upon many unresolved issues that contributed to the utopian thinking of the early Soviet period. Anemone rightly points to how German Junior’s imagined community of the pre-revolutionary period invokes many images from the post-Soviet period. He asserts:

In this vision of a Russia marked by poverty and criminality, middle-class apathy towards the poor, the hedonistic cult of sport, the decline of traditional morality and of the prestige of art, and heading towards an unimaginable historical calamity, German has created a double image: not only a snapshot of Russia on the eve of 1917, but an allegory of the contemporary post-Soviet world as well. But German refuses to resolve the central question raised by the film: does the brothers’ attempt to escape from the political problems of the larger society contribute to the tragedies that Russia will experience? Or is private life the only refuge for ordinary people caught up in historical calamities beyond their control? What is clear, however, is German’s consistently tragic sense that life is more about suffering and surviving than about attaining dreams.91

German Junior’s film is laced with elegiac overtones and laments the demise of the Russian creative intelligentsia who, in order to succeed in the post-Soviet period, have had to account of market forces as well as the new type of readership seeking entertainment rather than spiritual guidance.

It can be argued that the aesthetic values of the leading Russian émigré authors of the 1920s–1940s related to the nature and function of artistic creativity of Russian diaspora — identified in Khodasevich’s aforementioned statement as being strikingly different from Soviet literature — have come to be of central importance to Russian contemporary poets, critics and performers who are eager to move away from the ideological and utilitarian aesthetic concerns of the Soviet period. That is why the rediscovery of the writing of Russian émigré authors enables a post-Soviet reader to assess the development of modernist ideas in the post-revolutionary period preserved by different branches of Russian twentieth-century literature. It is also interesting to observe a hidden dialogicity embedded in post-Soviet textbooks on history and literature, suggesting the existence of a creative impulse to reinvent tradition and rewrite the past. Thus a 2008 textbook on Russian twentieth-century literature produced for university students of Russian philology mentions the names of several Russian émigré poets that had been erased from Soviet textbooks for decades. V. V. Losev’s chapter devoted to Khodasevich describes him as an heir of Pushkin who followed Pushkin’s advice not to seek fame or the acceptance of contemporary readers.92

Furthermore, Losev writes about Khodasevich’s loyalty to Russian culture in the style of the aforementioned song by Leonidov featuring White movement officers who had fled abroad as being true Russian patriots. Losev portrays Khodasevich as a person who, despite many travels during his years of emigration, managed to preserve the image of his motherland in his heart.93 He talks about Khodasevich’s desire to emulate the Apollonian qualities of Pushkin’s poetry based ‘on the harmonious coordination between semantic and sound elements’ and affirms that ‘in anticipation of his forthcoming death, Khodasevich emigrated spiritually to Pushkin’.94 Losev’s description of Khodasevich’s poetic persona exemplifies the process, discussed above, of re-imagining Russian identity without borders and the continuing association of the canon with nineteenth-century classical literature.

The description by Losev of Russian émigré poets who long for an imagined community of Russian readers is similar to the traditional representation of Tsvetaeva in criticism and the media of the 1960s–1990s. They usually represent Tsvetaeva as a true Russian poet. Many film makers, performers and critics state that her literary output is firmly rooted in the Russian poetic tradition and suggest that she was capable of appropriating European cultural models in her works in the style of the universalised image of Pushkin, as depicted in Fedor Dostoevskii’s 1880 Pushkin Speech. Dostoevskii’s speech moulds Pushkin into a poet who can empathise with other countries and cultural traditions. Likewise, the universal qualities of Tsvetaeva’s artistic outlook and all-inclusive poetic language is reflected in the introductory note to a recent edition of her poetry by A. Dmitriev:

‘The poet’s speech takes him far away…’ — it transfers him into the year 1610 in order to meet with Marina Mnishek; it leads him to an imaginary meeting with Russian generals taking part in the 1812 Borodino battle; it takes him to Paris and Prague (which results in the desire to return the ticket to the Creator) and it makes him seek otherworldly reality in order to enter the river Styx in the last day of summer 1941 spent in Elabuga.95

Dmitriev’s analysis of Tsvetaeva’s imaginary world containing fragments of Russian history, culture and European travels might be seen as an allegorical depiction of the state of the Russian poetic canon today. It alludes to the existence of many different views on the notion of canonicity linked not only to the notion of national identity but also to intertextuality and sublimity. The ambiguity of the post-Soviet cultural landscape resembles the eclectic nature of the physical landscape comprising remnants of the Soviet and the pre-Soviet past.

It is worth pointing here to a striking analogy between attitudes towards monuments and street naming in post-Soviet Russia and to the reassessment of the twentieth-century poetic canon. Graeme Gill, in his study of the pattern of name changes in Moscow in the post-Soviet period, highlights how the transition from communism to capitalism remains a highly ambiguous process.96 Gill asserts:

The generation of new symbols like flags, coats of arms, and anthems, the destruction of old and the construction of new monuments, the creation of new rituals or the injection of new context into the existing rituals, and even the reworking of the language (through the injection of new words, the changing of the meaning of the existing terms, and the elimination of some words) in order to invest it with a new ethos have all been important to the creation of the new regime’s symbolic culture.97

According to Gill, most of the street name changes in Russia since 1990 were meant to replace the memory of any associations with Soviet heroes and homo soveticus by new names that celebrate the notion of homo economicus. It is not surprising that out of 152 street name changes in Moscow in the last 20 years 102 of them were clearly linked to the desire to eradicate any memory of the communist past associated with revolutionary violence and utopian ideology. The change of street names, affirms Gill, was often triggered by the desire to erase those street names that were closely linked to political figures of the Soviet regimes, their associates (in Soviet Russia and outside Russia), the regime’s forefathers and various prominent members of the international revolutionary movement.98 Likewise, the twentieth-century poetic canon will continue to be contested for many years to come. The process of the construction of the new canon/s is likely to rely heavily on the existence of shared cultural values — shaped by the notion of culturedness created during the Soviet period — and to the growing desire to preserve the role of the Russian language as the basis of unity and creativity inside and outside Russia.

Such a desire to construct an image of Russia without borders appears to be indicative of the emerging Russophone poetic canon. It is not coincidental perhaps that a street in Kiev is renamed after Marina Tsvetaeva and that an underground stations due to open in the city in 2019 will be named ‘Tsvetaeva street’.99 Other existing streets named after Tsvetaeva are located in Russia, including such places as Krasnodar, Kazan’, Korolev, Koktebel’, Griazi (near Lipetsk), Uchaly (Baskiriia), Plodovyi village (near Kalinin), and Ekaterinburg. The list of streets associated with Tsvetaeva invokes Aleksandr Dugin’s concept of the Eurasian empire and imperial utopianism. Viewed in this light, the new Russophone canon seems inseparable from the post-Soviet geopolitical imagination. Furthermore, Tsvetaeva’s popularity in post-Soviet Russia can be partly explained by the Eurasianist overtones embedded in her poetry and fiction.100 Needless to say, Tsvetaeva’s poetry’s strong emotional appeal to the post-Soviet reader can also be seen as another sign of the return of emotionality. According to Maria Engström, the return of emotionality in today’s Russia exemplifies a search for ‘new forms of collectivity and commonness’ advocated by Russian neoconservative thinkers and writers whose promotion of ‘a passionate, emotional citizen’101 (as opposed to a rational citizen) is becoming alarmingly more popular than ever.

1 Henrietta Mondry, ‘“Philological Wars”: Nationalism in Russian Literary Periodicals (1993–1996)’, in In Search of Identity: Five Years Since the Fall of the Soviet Union, edited by Vladimir Tikhomirov (Melbourne, Centre for Russian and Euro-Asian Studies, University of Melbourne Press, 1996), 133–43.

2 Maria Engström describes post-Soviet conservatism (also known as new Russian conservatism or neoconservatism) as ‘a metapolitical, intellectual movement, which acts at the junction of art, literature, philosophy, and politics’. See Maria Engström, ‘Contemporary Russian Messianism and New Russian Foreign Policy’, Contemporary Security Policy, 35: 3 (2014), 356–79 (p. 358).

3 Kerry Bolton, ‘Zyuganov Communists Continue Stalin’s Fight Against “Rootless Cosmopolitanism”’, Foreign Policy Journal, December 12, 2012,

4 Alexander Etkind, Internal Colonisation: Russia’s Imperial Experience (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), p. 250.

5 Mikhail Gusman. ‘Russkofoniia mirovogo informatsionnogo polia’, Nezavisimaia gazeta, 7 October 2002,

6 Alan Golding, From Outlaw to Classic: Canons in American Poetry (Wisconsin-Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995); Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (New York: Riverhead Books, 1994); English Literature: Opening Up the Canon, edited by Leslie Fiedler and Houston Baker (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981); Joan Lipman, ‘Constructing our Pedagogical Canon’, Pedagogy, 10: 3 (2010), 535–53.

7 John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. ix.

8 Ibid., p. xi.

9 Jan Gorak, The Making of the Modern Canon: Genesis and Crisis of a Literary Idea (London and Atlantic Highlands: Athlone Press, 1991), p. 3.

10 Guillory, Cultural Capital, p. 339.

11 Ibid., p. 340.

12 Yuri Leving, ‘Plaster, Marble, Canon: The Vindication of Nabokov in Post-Soviet Russia’, Ulbandus Review, vol. 10: ‘My Nabokov’, 2007, 101–22 (p. 103).

13 Ibid., p. 107.

14 Ibid., pp. 112–13.

15 Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).

16 Katerina Clark, The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), p. xii.

17 Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001), p. 293.

18 The Fundamental Electronic Library of Russian Literature and Folklore, in Russian the Fundamental′aia elektronnaia biblioteka: Russkaia literatura i fol′klor (FEB) was launched on 1 June 2001 at

19 In a talk delivered at the Moscow bookshop Dodo on 19 October 2013 on teaching Russian literature today, Marietta Chudakova, one of the most influential critics and public figures in Russia, stated that Russian classical literature is an important brand for Russians all over the world, together with oil exports, and that cultural standards in Russia should be raised. She also voiced her opposition to the government’s idea of creating one textbook for all Russian schools as well as her opposition to the exclusion of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita from the school curriculum. A recording of this talk is available at

20 Kåre Johan Mjør, ‘The Online Library and the Classic Literary Canon in Post-Soviet Russia: Some Observations on “The Fundamental Electronic Library of Russian Literature and Folklore”’, Digital Icons, 2 (2009),

21 Ibid.

22 Greta Slobin, ‘The “Homecoming” of the First Wave Diaspora and Its Cultural Legacy’, Slavic Review, 60: 3 (Autumn 2001), 513–29 (p. 513).

23 Ibid., p. 514.

24 Ibid., p. 515.

25 Marc Raeff, Russia Abroad: A Cultural History of the Russian Emigration, 1919–1939 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 10.

26 William Robinson, ‘Beyond Nation-State Paradigms: Globalization, Sociology, and the Challenge of Transnational Studies’, Sociological Forum, 13: 4 (December 1998), 561–94 (p. 562).

27 Ibid.

28 The episode from Mikhalkov’s film featuring Viktor Leonidov’s song is available on YouTube at

29 Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (New York and London: Routledge, 1988), p. xiii.

30 Simon Karlinsky, Marina Tsvetaeva: The Woman, Her World, and Her Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 220–21.

31 Ibid., p. 221.

32 Vladislav Khodasevich, ‘Untitled Notes’, The Manuscript Collection of M. M. Karpovich, Papers on V. I. Khodasevich, Bakhmeteff Archive, Columbia University. Quoted in Greta N. Slobin, ‘The “Homecoming” of the First Wave Diaspora and Its Cultural Legacy’, p. 519.

33 Ibid., p. 513.

34 Ibid., p. 514.

35 Edith W. Clowes, Russia on the Edge: Imagined Geographies and Post-Soviet Identity (Ithaca and New York: Cornell University Press, 2011), xi.

36 Joseph Brodsky, ‘Footnote to a Poem’, Less Than One: Selected Essays (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1987), 195–267 (pp. 209–10).

37 Christopher Whyte, ‘The English for an Anti-Elegy: Translating Tsvetaeva on Rilke’, Translation and Literature, 21 (2012), 196–212 (p. 197).

38 Sofia Gubaidulina and Vera Lukomsky, ‘“The Eucharist in My Fantasy”: Interview with Sofia Gubaidulina’, Tempo, New Series, 206 (September 1998), 29–35 (p. 30).

39 Ibid., pp. 30–31.

40 Irma Kudrova, Put’ komet, 3 vols. (St Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo ‘Kriga’, 2007), III, 293.

41 Clowes, Russia on the Edge, p. xi.

42 [N.a.], ‘Unveiling Ceremony for the Monument to Marina Tsvetaeva by Zurab Tsereteli in France’, Press service, 18 June 2012,

43 Ol′ga Grigor′eva, ‘Vstretimsia u Mariny’, Reka i rech′ (Pavlodar: ‘TOO “Dom pechati”’, 2009), p. 77.

44 Slobin, ‘The “Homecoming” of the First Wave Diaspora and Its Cultural Legacy’, p. 523.

45 Ibid., p. 525.

46 Natalia Ivanova, ‘“Uskol′zaiushchaia sovremennost”: Russkaia literatura XX–XXI vekov: ot “vnekomplektnoi” k postsovetskoi, a teper′ i vsemirnoi’, Voprosy literatury, 3 (2007),

47 Efim Etkind, ‘Russkaia poeziia XX veka kak edinyi process’, in Odna ili dve russkikh literatury?, edited by Georges Nivat (Lausanne: l’Âge d’Homme, 1981), 9–30 (p. 15).

48 Gleb Struve, Russkaia literature v izgnani (New York: Izdatel′stvo Chekhova, 1956), p. 7.

49 Etkind, ‘Russkaia poeziia XX veka kak edinyi process’, p. 16.

50 Ibid., p. 17.

51 A. Potebnia, Mysl′ i iazyk (Kharkov: Tipografiia Adol′fa Darre, 1892), p. 176.

52 Ross Chambers, ‘Irony and the Canon’, Profession (1990), 18–24 (p. 18).

53 Ibid.

54 Ibid.

55 Irina Odoevtseva, Na beregakh Nevy (Moscow: Khudozhestvennia literatura, 1988); Na beregakh Seny (Moscow: Khudozhestvennia literatura, 1989); Oleg Khlebnikov, ‘S voskhishcheniem zhivu: Interv′iu s Irinoi Odoevtsevoi’, Ogonek, 11 (11–18 March 1989), 22–23; Konstantin Kedrov, ‘Vozvrashchenie Iriny Odoevtsevoi’, in Irina Odoevtseva, Na beregakh Nevy (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1988), pp. 5–12.

56 Georgii Ivanov, Stikhotvoreniia, edited by Andrei Ar′ev (Moscow: DNK, Progress-Pleiada, 2010); Georgii Ivanov, Sobranie sochinenii v trekh tomakh, edited by Evgenii Vitkovskii (Moscow: Soglasie, 1994); Georgii Ivanov, Stikhotvoreniia, edited by Andrei Ar′ev (Moscow: DNK, Progress-Pleiada, 2010).

57 Sasha Vetrov, Led. Al′bom pesen na stikhi poeta Georgiia Ivanova (St Petersburg: Petersburgskaia studiia gramzapisi, 2012), Vertov is planning to produce a collection of songs based on the poetry of Vladislav Khodasevich,

58 Galina Rylkova, The Archaeology of Anxiety: The Russian Silver Age and Its Legacy (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 2007).

59 Elena Ignatova, ‘Kto my? Leningradskii andegraund semidesiatykh’, Interpoeziia, 3 (2010),

60 Rylkova, The Archaeology of Anxiety, p. 209.

61 N. A. Bogomolov, ‘Andrei Ar′ev. Zhizn’ Georgiia Ivanova. Dokumental′noe povestvovanie ‘, Znamia, 4 (2010),

62 Ibid.

63 D. D. Nikolaev, ‘Kreid V. P. Georgii Ivanov. Moscow, Molodaia gvardiia, 2007’, Novyi istoricheskii vestnik, 2 (2009), 18,

64 Anna Makolkin, ‘Probing the Origins of Literary Biography: English and Russian Versions’, Biography, 19: 1 (Winter 1996), 87–104 (p. 87).

65 Ibid., p. 100.

66 Elena Dubrovina, ‘O poezii i proze Georgiia Ivanova. Interv′iu s Vadimom Kreidom’, Gostinaia, vypusk 53, Literaturnyi Parizh (September 2013),; Ivan Tolstoi, ‘Veter s Nevy: Zhizn′ Georgiia Ivanova’, Radio Svoboda, 11: 10 (2009),

67 Elena Dubrovina, ‘O poezii i proze Georgiia Ivanova’.

68 Tat′iana Aleshina, Peterburgskii al’bom [CD] (St Petersburg: studiia ‘Aziia-plius’, 2003).

69 Mikhail Epstein, ‘Like a Corpse in the Desert: Dehumanisation in the New Moscow Poetry’, in Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture, edited by Mikhail Epstein, Alexander A. Genis, Slobodanka M. Vladiv-Glover (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999), 134–44 (pp. 135–36).

70 Ibid., p. 137.

71 Ihab Habb Hassan, The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature (Wisconsin-Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), p. 12.

72 Igor’ Shaitanov, Delo vkusa. Kniga o sovremenoi poezii (Moscow: Vremia, 2007), p. 30.

73 Eric Laursen, ‘The Talent of Double Vision: Distorting Reflection in Georgii Ivanov’s Émigré Poetry’, Russian literature, 43 (1998), 481–93 (p. 481).

74 Ibid.

75 Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, edited by Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann (London and New York: Continuum, 1997), p. 5.

76 Ibid., p. 7.

77 Strofy veka. Antologiia russkoi poezii, edited by Evgenii Evtushenko (Moscow: Polifakt, 1994).

78 Evgenii Evtushenko, ‘Poet v Rossii bol′she, chem poet…’, Novye izvestiia, 16 September 2005,

79 Mikhail Gasparov, ‘Kniga dlia chteniia’, Novyi mir, 2 (1996),

80 Pavel Basinskii, ‘Eto bylo nedavno…’, Rossiiskaia gazeta, 26 August 2013,

81 Clare Cavanagh, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010), p. 13.

82 Régine Robin, Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic, translated by Catherine Porter (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. xxvi–xxvii.

83 Ibid., p. xxxiii.

84 Ibid., p. xxxii.

85 Ibid., p. iv.

86 N. N. Shneidman, Russian Literature, 1995–2002: On the Threshold of the New Millenium (Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press, 2004), p. 5.

87 Ibid., pp. 5–6.

88 Barrett Watten, ‘Post-Soviet Subjectivity in Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Ilya Kabakov’, Postmodern Culture, 3: 2 (January 1993),

89 Ibid.

90 Tony Anemone, ‘Aleksei German Junior: Garpastum, 2005’, Kinokultura, 12 (April 2006),

91 Ibid.

92 V. V. Losev, ‘V. F. Khodasevich (1886–1939)’, in Izbrannye imena: Russkie poety. XX vek. Uchebnoe posobie, edited by N. M. Malygin (Moscow: Flinta, Nauka, 2008), pp. 145–55 (p. 145).

93 Ibid., p. 146.

94 Ibid., p. 152.

95 A. Dmitriev, ‘Predislovie’, in M. I. Tsvetaeva, Zakon zvezdy i formula tsvetka… (Moscow: Eksmo, 2010), p. 4.

96 Graeme Gill, ‘Changing Symbols: The Renovation of Moscow Place Names’, The Russian Review, 64 (July 2005), 480–503 (p. 495).

97 Ibid., p. 480.

98 Ibid., p. 485.

100 Alexandra Smith. ‘Tsvetaeva’s Story “The Chinaman” and Its Link with the Eurasian Movement in Prague and in Paris in the 1920–1930s’, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 28: 3 (2001 [2002]), 269–86.

101 Maria Engström, ‘Contemporary Russian Messianism and New Russian Foreign Policy’, p. 358.