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He is, in this sense, much closer to anarchism than the contemporaries who insisted on the right to work or a fair wage. We do not have similar expectations for children and adults, for example. Instead of asking everyone to consume or work an equal amount, or in the same way, the equality that matters would be one that gave everyone the same opportunities to freely participate in any activity, to freely take, but most importantly, to freely change and grow. In other words, by emphasizing the inadequacies of Anarresti society, LeGuin tricks us into taking as utterly credible a communist society that is, despite everything, already pretty good.

She uses ambiguity to defeat the skeptic logics of the utopian genre and render what may be the most convincing portrait of communism in all of literature, a communism that is not only plausible but plausibly improvable. LeGuin should be thought of as doing something similar: effecting a communist suspension of disbelief , a suspension first and foremost of capitalist disbelief in the possibility of communism. One friend volunteers to be confined, and not only that, volunteers to surrender all choice about the length of time he is confined.

Shevek and the others must decide. The effect is not only to denaturalize prison, to expose it as an unnecessary and incomprehensible absurdity, but to remind us that it is the result of free human action, of thousands upon thousands of choices that have been made but could also have been unmade, choices that, ultimately, deprived others of choice.

The children confine their friend in a recess within the concrete foundations for their school, by which LeGuin means to suggest, I think, that this sort of imaginative speculation is the basis for their education and ours. For Brecht, the alienation effect often means to look at the things of this world as they might appear from the standpoint of a future, communist society. In this light, very little is intelligible.

The other day I wanted To tell you cunningly The story of a wheat speculator in the city of Chicago. In the middle of what I was saying My voice suddenly failed me For I had Grown aware all at once what an effort It would cost me to tell That story to those not yet born But who will be born and will live In ages quite different from ours And, lucky devils, will simply not be able to grasp What a wheat speculator is Of the kind we know.

It takes an incredibly flexible mind to imagine our own reality as unimaginable from the vantage of those who live otherwise. This is realism of a very different sort than the one that dominates literary fiction. She is, of course, not only calling for a certain type of writing but describing her own work. In her case, part of this ability to imagine alternatives derives from what is a fundamentally anthropological way of thinking about human society. Her father, Alfred Kroeber, worked to develop the discipline of anthropology in the United States, and she spent her childhood surrounded by researchers who insisted, first and foremost, on the great variety of human cultural and social possibilities.

The Dispossessed forms, along with dozens of other novels and stories, a shared universe sometimes described as The Hainish Cycle. The Hainish novels and stories describe humanoid civilizations across a number of planets, including Earth, during a period in galactic history when these civilizations are beginning to make contact with each other. Human life on each of these planets is the result of an ancient wave of colonization by the original humans of the planet Hain, whose civilization then collapsed.

Further, the Hainish colonists engaged in widespread genetic engineering, such that the resulting societies are incredibly various both biologically and culturally, so various that it is not entirely clear they represent a single species. In the Hainish cycle, one encounters humans who can control their fertility voluntarily, who change sex monthly, who are hermaphroditic, who dream while they are awake, who have cat eyes or bat wings, and who live in societies that are feudal, capitalist, communist, patriarchal, bellicose, peaceful, ecocidal, environmentalist, and dozens of other options besides.

LeGuin therefore offers us a speculative galactic anthropology, one in which not only is nothing human alien but in which much of what one might find alien turns out to be human after all. Present earthbound societies are no more the natural form of human life than the finch is the natural form of avian life. In this larger realism, earthbound reality is merely one bird among many. The libertarian communism of Anarres, however, is not only one among these many forms of human society, but crucial, as it turns out, to the development of the technological means to unite them.

The Dispossessed begins at a moment far earlier than the other novels, when the Hainish and the Terrans have made contact with each other, and with the other planets, and have established embassies but have not yet created the galactic associations we encounter in the rest of the books. Travel occurs at near light-speed, but given the constraints induced by relativistic physics, communication must cope with lags of decades if not centuries. In most of the later novels, instantaneous communication between planets takes place through a device called the ansible. Teleportation, though theoretically possible, has not yet been developed; the planetary civilizations are connected and yet separate.

Information flows freely throughout the galaxy, allowing for the establishment of general principles of association — such as non-aggression, free interchange, a basic respect for human life and life generally — but the impossibility of direct transit without relativistic lag means these planetary civilizations develop variously and on their own terms.

Many of the Hainish novels feature main characters who are ambassadors of the emergent intergalactic associations, making contact with human civilizations that have not yet joined. They are observers and diplomats, offering collaboration and assistance, as long as would-be entrants meet certain basic criteria. Some are explicitly anthropologists, and one might wonder to what extent these more or less benevolent characters exculpate a discipline that has never been as neutral and non-colonial in its encounters with other cultures as it imagined itself.

LeGuin is clear-seeing about the innumerable forms of caste and class, patriarchy and racialization, that might shape a society, but is also able to imagine a likewise diverse number of societies that dispense with such structures, in part or in whole. Though the baseline of the intergalactic associations is not communism, the most advanced of them do seem to have arrived at something close to it.

One might conclude that, for LeGuin, the arc of galactic history tends that way but does so along paths that are divergent rather than convergent. Galactic communism, in other words, would have that variousness and plurality, that openness to development and to the future, which Shevek finds lacking on Anarres.

To make a book shield, one combines layers of hard materials with soft ones. Fiberglass and foam, plywood and polyester stuffing. The structure must be soft enough to absorb a blow from a police baton, yet hard enough not to crumple. The Dispossessed is likewise woven together from layers of dissimilar materials, shuttling back and forth chapter by chapter between the hard class violence of Urras and the soft communalism of Anarres, between the soft luxuriousness of ruling-class Urras and the hard austerity of Anarres, between the hard reality of capitalism as we know it and the soft possibility of the classless society that could be.

What we see, however, is just an image. LeGuin shows us the frozen utopia of Anarres, perhaps, because that is all that literary prose can grasp of utopia, rendering flat and static what must, in fact, be dynamic and living if it will survive. Communism as it develops, communism as it might become, lies beyond all literary representation, since it is not, in fact, a single thing but a vast plurality of developmental arcs, as numerous as the stars of the galaxy. It might last a million years. Postone died this year also, a few months after LeGuin.

Like her, he was an otherworldly mind. He only wrote the aforementioned book, along with a handful of articles, but it is a landmark work, easily one of the most important books of Marxist theory written in my lifetime. Along with his teaching at the University of Chicago, this slender corpus has had immense effect on the revival of Marxism since the crisis and, in particular, has formed part of the essential reading list for a distinctly American version of communist thought.

Both Postone and LeGuin are thinkers whose early work is stamped by the Cold War and the overarching presence of a failed socialism many leftists continued to support, however critically or conditionally. In The Dispossessed , the planet-moon of Urras is divided between an egalitarian but freedomless society and a deeply stratified capitalist one, with political tensions between the two and their proxy wars in smaller states mimicking the long confrontation between the US and USSR as it unfolded in Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and elsewhere.

The Left Hand of Darkness likewise figures authoritarian socialism as one of the directions society takes on the planet Gethen. Traditional Marxists, Postone argues, misidentified the violence of capitalism with a flawed and unequal system of distribution, failing to develop an adequate critique of production. The problem for traditional Marxists was not, in other words, how capitalism generated wealth but how it spread it around. In the USSR and elsewhere, this error meant that revolutionaries attempted to retain the industrial factory but abolish the market, private property, and profit, replacing those unequal mechanisms of distribution with egalitarian central planning.

The project failed, but even if it had succeeded, Postone claims, it would have been woefully inadequate. Rather than proposing to graft a new mode of distribution onto existing structures, an authentically emancipatory Marxist critique would reorganize the entirety of society, seeking out the roots of unfreedom in the material organization of our lives. Equal pay, for example, may go some distance in addressing racism but is incapable of overcoming the racialized hierarchies of the workplace and social life.

In response to the manifest inadequacy of traditional Marxism, Postone aims with no false modesty to reconstruct Marxist theory so that it is adequate to the task it has set for itself. LeGuin is also very much a thinker of these new social movements, developing visions of human emancipation shaped, at a profound level, by the tumult of the s and s. Her desire to produce a utopia adequate to the desires of these movements is what gives her literary work its maximalist power, driving her to produce in The Dispossessed a glimpse of a classless society beyond the family and patriarchy, beyond the hierarchical logics of race, and beyond the violent norms of heterosexuality.

Traditional Marxism, he argues, has made labor the basis rather than the object of its critique, affirming it as a universal aspect of the human condition. A revolution that aims to emancipate labor rather than abolish it will end up perpetuating the proletarian condition. Returning to workers the entirety of the wealth they produce will not end their unfreedom, if this still means that people have no say over the conditions of their own life. Traditional Marxism finds it impossible to imagine the self-abolition of the proletarian class because it treats labor as a category outside of history, rather than one produced by capitalism itself.

By making labor into a category of capitalism, Postone does not mean to make the nonsensical claim that previous societies have never involved labor, but rather that these societies did not conceive of what we call labor as labor, as expressions of an undifferentiated productive capacity. This conception only arises with the general commodification of human activity, once work becomes something bought and sold on the open market.

Peasants did not conceive of their work in the fields as fundamentally separate from work in the kitchen garden, from work fixing their domicile, taking care of children, or hunting game. Nor was the line between these activities and play or diversion so firmly drawn. Postone, therefore, attempts to denaturalize and estrange labor in much the same way that LeGuin denaturalizes prison in the passage described previously.

Why is it that spending time with a child in one context might be something you do for fun, in another a familial obligation, and in yet another paid work? What would it mean to live in a society in which nothing people did took the form of labor, but merely appeared as a spectrum of voluntary activity, some of it pleasant, some of it tedious, but none of it a job? This is a useful standard by which to judge the ambiguous utopia of The Dispossessed.

While no one is forced to work on Anarres — residents can refuse work and still have access to food, housing and everything else, and may even choose to live on their own, as hermits — Shevek and others feel a moral obligation to contribute, given the fragility of life on the planet. They receive assignments from the central planning board that arrive seemingly without much consideration of individual ability and desire.

There are weekly rotations of maintenance work that everyone does and which Shevek enjoys, but he resents having to participate in the occasional expeditionary work campaigns that last for months on end, such as when he travels to the driest region to plant trees as part of a geoengineering project. Does the injunction to work arise as part of natural necessity, given by the desert conditions of the planet? Petersburg, but his personal connections with Chechnya make it impossible to write dispassionately.

Rarely translated and complicated for pronunciation, Andrei Astvatsaturov is first of all an academic at St. Petersburg University, but he is also renowned for autobiographical fiction that depicts his life and creative development through numerous flashbacks to his childhood. A person without memory of the past, confronted with the need to define his place in the world… a person deprived of the historic experience of his nation and other people, finds himself outside historic perspective and is only capable of living in the present.

She became popular thanks to the Internet, where she started publishing poems on Live Journal with the handle, Vero4ka. Her poems almost always consist of a dialogue between the protagonist and her beloved, often on the theme of parting or misunderstanding. Polozkova now gives poetry recitals in packed clubs, making every occasion a performance. She acts out the characters in her poems and records them on video, adding musical, film, theatrical and literary elements.


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Vera Pavlova writes love poetry with an obvious erotic subtext. Her poems show us various stages of a girl's development, and the amorous, intimate experiences of a modern woman - from buying her first bra, to reflecting on virginity before her first sexual encounter, to intense love as if for the last time, covering all the stages of a relationship. Her poems are often written in free verse and can be as little as two lines.

When it closed, she became a full-time novelist. The novel was shortlisted for numerous awards and translated into 23 languages. Journalist Starobinets became Russia's "Queen of Horror" after publishing several stories for teenagers that are dreadful to read even for adults. In Russia, she has been compared to Stephen King and even Kafka. Her stories communicate something urgent through schizophrenic characters in anti-fairy tales. Tatyana Tolstaya is an absolutely incredible phenomenon in Russian literature. It's a post-apocalyptic dystopia, ironically on target describing the Russian national character.

Based on the ruins of civilization, the language of the novel is full of neologisms and dialects. By the way, she is a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy. All of a sudden, the protagonist is endowed with superpowers and simultaneously hunted by several global intelligence agencies. They raise her on a mix of secret religion, parables and French while keeping her out of the orphanage. This is an ambitious, postmodern contribution to a revered literary tradition.

In the mythical Riphean Mountains, gem prospectors, called rock hounds, search for precious stones. On the streets of a Russian city, romance unfolds amid the backdrop of the centenary of the Revolution - seemingly a call to repeated violence. Slavnikova weaves these parallel plots and settings together with metaphor and fantasy. He is now deputy editor-in-chief of Literaturnaya Gazeta. Shargunov's father was an Orthodox priest with an underground printing press, so naturally he grew up distrusting those in power.

He was attracted to many anti-Soviet things — underground books, magazines, and radio — but he also felt the lure of their opposite, the communist world, which was forbidden in his family. Shargunov worked as a journalist, covering the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, as well as revolution in Kyrgyzstan. Now, the author is a deputy in the Russian parliament, and chief editor of the website, Svobodnaya Pressa. Writer and essayist Sharov debuted as a poet in A tall man with a big white beard, the author bears an uncanny resemblance to Leo Tolstoy.

His books are imbued with Biblical motifs and attempts at rethinking Russian history. Kucherskaya is a writer and literary critic who also opened a creative writing school. This is quite a novel for Russia, where it has always been believed that you can only be born a writer. Kucherskaya has also worked in other genres, and she wrote a biography of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich Romanov, and a book of Gospel stories for children. Critics compare the evolution of Elizarov's works with Vladimir Sorokin: from scandalous to intelligent prose.

Elizarov is also a singer and songwriter having recorded four albums in the bard-punk-chanson style. Yelena Fanailova writes poetry that explores issues related to love. She flies to see him, then has abortions, and gets old. He experiences the day-to-day reality of war, rapes local girls with his fellow soldiers and returns home. Fanailova, who works for Radio Svoboda, is often called a harsh poet for her realistic depictions of people "A one-armed woman on a beach removes her prosthesis and then swims and sunbathes" , for her cursing "I'm an empty person, a vessel of shit" , and for her blunt and unique political statements "The nation salutes me, …, it is taken hostage everyday and yet seems not to feel it".

Born in Tver, north of Moscow, Galina grew up in Odessa where she studied marine biology. It is easier for me to be just a human being. Several of her novels have male protagonists. It is a mystery, thriller, farce and family saga all in one book. The resulting mesh of stories from ancient Greece, Arabic mythology, English occult magic and Jewish mysticism is a far lighter read than this weighty background suggests. Sokolov is one of the most mysterious Russian writers. Born in Ottawa, Canada to a family of Soviet intelligence officers, and probably spies , Sokolov moved to the USSR but returned to Canada where he now lives as a hermit in a remote location, rarely appearing in public or giving interviews.

He became famous when his novels were published by Ardis Publishers founded by Americans Carl and Ellendea Proffer, who took banned Soviet manuscripts and brought them to the U. Another novel, "Between Dog and Wolf," is written in three distinct styles: poetry, classical narrative and colloquial, stream-of-consciousness letters. After completing his third novel, "Palisanria," Sokolov decided only to write essays, short stories and poems.

The work details his feelings such as waking up in the morning and not wanting to go to school, and the meaninglessness of the military routine he experienced during his naval service. After the success of this performance he composed several other one-man shows where he acted as well, then recorded songs with popular bands and acted in several movies.

His monologues about Russian life are extremely popular on YouTube. Mikhail Shishkin, who lives in Switzerland, is an emigre writer whose fiction is based on Russian and European literary traditions, and which forges an equally expansive vision for the future of literature. In , he refused to take part in the official Russian writers' delegation to Book Expo America, causing a scandal and became persona non grata in Russian literary circles. The heroes of his other novel, "The Light and the Dark," are lovers separated by war.

They communicate in letters where they share every detail of their lives: talking about their childhood, their families, their daily lives, their joys and their sorrows. Right after the Revolution, poet Voloshin settled in Koktebel, a breathtakingly beautiful place on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula. Voloshin's house in Koktebel turned into a literary commune cum salon, and writers of diverse artistic and political views made pilgrimmages there. During the brutal days of the Civil War, Voloshin turned his house into a shelter for both the Bolsheviks and members of the White Guard.

He was nearly alone in his effort to unite people. So, after they came to power, his poems were not published. Now his house in Crimea is a museum hosting an annual festival that gathers poets from different countries. He sent the manuscript to a publishing house that responded unenthusiastically, particularly disliking the fact that the main character dies at the end, leaving no hope for a sequel.

Despite the rejection, Glukhovsky posted all 13 chapters of his novel online. Little by little, the Metro website gained popularity. Encouraged by this positive response, Glukhovsky returned to the script and considerably reworked it. When completed, he again offered it to the publisher — this time backed by thousands of potential readers.

Witches, warlocks, werewolves, sorceresses, succubi and yes, vampires, inhabit a gloomy Muscovite world with a distinct atmosphere. He has written other four books in the "Watch" series, considers his art work as postmodernist, and has earned numerous literary awards. So some of their works such as "The Snail on the Slope" were censored.

One of his works is even drawn on a Moscow building. As author of dozens of installations and art performances since the end of the s, his artworks today grace galleries all over the world.

The 20th century

Other art forms occupied his attention; for example, he penned 35, poems, some of which have been translated into English, Italian and German. Avant-garde music was also on his creative horizon, and he was one of the main representatives of Moscow Conceptualism, which is a purely Russian genre with a new vision of art.

As many other cutting-edge art movements, Prigov's art was unofficial and non-conformist. If you asked most readers for a list of 20th century Russian prose writers, few would mention Teffi whose real name is Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya.

On The Twentieth Century Actors Fund Concert: Life Is Like A Train

And yet in the years leading up to the Revolution, Teffi was a leading light, a superstar who was stopped on the streets of Moscow by admirers and who counted both Czar Nicholas II and Lenin as fans. She mingled with high society figures like Rasputin and wrote about them with searing and uncompromising wit. She deliberately picked an androgynous pen name — adapted from the name of a fool, since fools were supposed to be speakers of truth — and set about carving a niche writing satirical articles and vignettes of contemporary life.

In her memoirs one can meet both leading Russian artists, poets and writers and famous figures as Rasputin, around whom was much hysteria, which she didn't share at all and was unimpressed with after meeting him twice. Like Kafka, most of his works were published posthumously; like Bulgakov, his fevered surrealism is a response to life in Soviet Moscow, but much more than that. All Russian school children remember this writer from when they studied his descriptions of nature.

He travelled a lot through the entire Russian North and gathered information on local traditions and dialects, eventually reaching the Far East where he wrote about its wild animals. The protagonist, a provincial schoolteacher named Peredonov, is a difficult, cowardly, and unbearably banal man who finds pleasure in hurting people, while barely managing to conceal his madness under the mask of respectability.

While Sologub could be called a successor to Gogol and Dostoevsky, he still remained an original and outstanding author. While remaining within the realistic framework, Sologub was able to describe a subtle, yet mystical provincial daily life, balancing precariously between daydreams and reality, fear and desperation, which are felt so strongly in backwater towns.

Originally from the Siberian city of Irkutsk, Andrei Gelasimov is an author of several novels that have been translated into many languages. This is one of the most controversial episodes in recent Russian history, but the book is written in a humorous and satirical way, with certain elements of the grotesque.

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In a small steppe village people are waiting for Soviet troops to return after the war. Raised in the Russian republic of Dagestan, Ganieva has lived in Moscow since , working as a literary critic and editor. Ganieva has been listed by The Guardian as one of the most talented and influential young people living in Moscow today. Iskander was born in Sukhumi to an Iranian father and a mother from the village of Chegem in the Caucasus.

Sukhumi was the capital of the Soviet republic of Abkhazia, which at the time was part of Georgia. The writer had very fond memories of this multiethnic city where Abkhazians, Georgians, Armenians and Russians lived side by side. The book was an instant hit among Soviet intellectuals. Dmitry Bykov is a multi-tasking man - writer, poet, publicist, and professor. His online lectures in Russian literature are very popular and his joint project with actor Mikhail Yefremov, "Citizen Poet," got millions of views on YouTube.

His is author of several biographies of Russian writers and a guest lecturer at Princeton University. Terekhov started his career as a journalist, and one of his most important books is the page "The Stone Bridge," which is actually a Soviet-era Romeo and Juliet story. This is a pseudo-documentary story of a modern-day investigation of an old and bizarre accident. In in Moscow on the Big Stone Bridge a year old teenager killed his female classmate because of unrequited love and then killed himself. Another of his highly acclaimed and award-winning novels is "Nemsty" The Germans , which is about the lives of Moscow bureaucrats.

Mamleev is considered to have created a new literary style, metaphysical realism, which finds expression in his philosophical study, "The Fate of Existence. The author belonged to a group of semi-underground writers not recognized by the Soviet regime and ignored by Soviet publishers. His early works were distributed via the samizdat system. Written in , the mystical novel, "The Sublimes," is one of Mamleev's most famous works. Petrushevskaya is also a singer giving concerts in her 70s, and a playwright. Her plays have been staged in many theaters.

She has also collaborated with animation genius Yuri Norsteyn, author of "Hedgehog in the Fog," and she wrote the screenplay for his, "Tale of Tales. These simple stories were an Internet success, and adults made their own cartoons and fan fiction based on them. Maxim Amelin is widely published and probably the leading Russian contemporary poet. He is also a translator of classical authors such as Catullus and Pindar, and since he has been working as chief editor of OGI, a publishing house that prints rare masterpieces for the Russian book market and sells literary titles in Russian and English.

Amelin is among the last generation of poets raised in the Soviet Union. As a translator and writer, he believes "poetry should be translated by poets. Rubina was born and spent her childhood years in Tashkent, the sun-soaked Central Asian city where representatives of different cultures and ethnicities lived side-by-side during the Soviet period. The scorching sun, the polyphony of an Oriental city, various episodes from her early and teenage years come up again and again in Rubina's novels and short stories.

In her epic and best-selling novel, "On the Sunny Side of the Street," which is set in Tashkent, a fictional plot interweaves with memoirs of real-life Tashkent residents to produce a truly powerful effect. Her protagonists are often artistic and unconventional people: painters, singers, circus artists or just people who have a talent for something.

The author lives in Israel now, but she is a frequent guest to Russia, coming to do book presentations, which are always popular, gathering large crowds. Gazdanov debuted in the literary arena in the late s, first as an author of short stories. He was even forced to live on the street, until he found a job as a night taxi driver in In the latter, the protagonist is a night taxi driver in Paris Gazdanov's alter ego, of course. Yuzefovich has tended to focus on historical themes and difficult subject matter. His recent award-winning documentary novel, "The Winter Road," begins towards the end of the Civil War, when the Bolsheviks already claimed victory in European Russia, but fighting continued in the distant Far East.

To write this book, the author researched dozens of diaries, memoirs and letters, comparing different versions of the same events. Rather than presenting his own ideas about the course of history, he presents the events dispassionately in his narrative. Additionally, his protagonists are often members of little known or mostly ignored groups. Victor Pelevin used to be a guru of the Russian reading public.

In , Yakhina broke onto Russia's literary scene with her first novel, "Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes," which at once won all of Russia's main literary prizes and became the most discussed book of the year. Surviving winter in the forest with other prisoners and even giving birth to a son, she finds a new and even better life there and finds love with her guard.

Like him, Paustovsky traveled a lot, dedicating his books to the places he visited: the Black Sea shore, Georgia and the forests of the Meshchera lowlands in the middle of Russia. Sorokin is one of Russia's most controversial and important contemporary writers. In s he was one of the main figures of the Moscow conceptualist underground. His most popular books are "The Day of the Oprichnik" depicting the times of Ivan the Terrible with clear parallels to contemporary Russia.

His underground publishing work eventually cost his father his diplomatic career — a saga that Erofeyev would later use as the plot for his novel, "The Good Stalin. The poem was very popular, especially among those who served and fought against the Nazis. Let's jump to writers who brought World War II to the mass audience. Vasilyev volunteered to fight in the War at the age of 17, and it's hard to imagine Russia's war literature without his, "The Dawns Here Are Quiet," a story about four girls and their commander who are fighting Nazis in the forest.

The novel, which was staged and screened several times, still brings people to tears. Thanks to Vasilyev and a generation of writers whose art was born from battle, the war was seen in a new light: not just as an achievement of the Soviet people, not just an event of global scale and significance, but also as a personal drama for each person.

Vasilyev made a big name for himself as a scriptwriter. Born in St. Petersburg, Olga Bergholz became a symbol of the Siege of Leningrad and the efforts to survive in such a terrible situation. During the blockade she broadcast her poems via loudspeakers and radio to bolster the spirit of locals. Aware that she was on the other end of a microphone, barricaded just like them, Leningraders got some sense of hope. After all, amid shelling and starvation, she was still writing poems and would recite her poems, about suffering, fear, the horror of death, and the unbearable lives they were living.

Bergholz was inspired and influenced by the already revered Anna Akhmatova, who also wrote poems from besieged Leningrad and witnessed the first artillery shelling of the city. Alexander Fadeyev is most famous for "The Young Guard," a novel set in occupied Ukraine in , which is among the best-known Soviet books about the War. The end of the Young Guard was tragic, however. Teenage partisans were betrayed, tortured and killed by the Germans. The captivating and heroic book, viewed as historically accurate but fiction nonetheless, was included in the Soviet school program for literature, but only after Fadeyev promised to rewrite portions of the book to satisfy the Communist Party in Fadeyev was also a head of the state-sponsored Union of Writers, taking part in most persecution against "anti-Soviet" writers.

Grossman vividly observed and recorded the tragedy of a people living in a totalitarian society and at war. And like so many of his peers, he never saw his own great work published. The novel was considered anti-Soviet, however, and the book had to be smuggled out of the country. Individual portraits of lives held hostage and neighborhoods under attack are impossible to forget. The work chronicles the life and death struggle of a city and its people, who, condemned to hell on earth, never surrendered.

One of the rare 18th century writers in our list was very important and was one of the first Russian writers who was persecuted and exiled because of his work.

Imagining the Modern City

Written following the wave of socio-political upheavals after the American War of Independence and just as the French Revolution was getting started, Radishchev hoped to change something in Russia by exposing the dire situation of the peasants. Radishchev was arrested and put into the dread prison of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

The Empress at first wanted the death penalty for the writer, but decided to show mercy and exiled him to Siberia. Herzen launched revolutionary agitation. He is author of a novel asking one of the main questions for Russians even today, "Who is guilty? Nikolai Chernyshevsky is a 19th-century Russian revolutionary democrat and philosopher who set out a utopian vision of a socialist society that was "beyond" capitalism. This is the story of Vera Pavlovna, a young woman struggling to escape a passionless life that her scheming and greedy mother tries to impose by marrying her off to their landlord.

Seeking independence, she enters into a marriage of her own arrangement with a revolutionary-minded medical student, Lopukhov, and starts a successful business as a seamstress. In , Alexievich was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Today her books are translated into dozens of languages. Alexievich makes her living as an investigative journalist rather than a writer. Her literature is diverse, and is not always elegant. Alexievich has strong anti-Russian political views. Prilepin is definitely the leading contemporary war writer. In real life, Prilepin was a member of the banned National Bolshevik Party in and later of a similar party called the Other Russia.

He participated in demonstrations together with his former comrade, Eduard Limonov. Prilepin's works have received various awards. After publishing this book Prilepin announced taking a break in literature to become the leader of a battalion in the Donetsk People's Republic DPR fight for independence from Kiev.

Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne

As one of the s poets together with Voznesensky and Rozhdestvensky, he was very popular and packed stadiums where he read poems. Another writer who suffered from Soviet authorities, Shalamov survived in a scarier place than the War because these were not Nazis but Soviet citizens who killed Soviet citizens. It depicts the unemotional brutality of power and the range of human suffering.

Thematically, each story is self-contained, focusing on a different element of GULAG life, a specific event or a personality. However, this thematic division masks a deeper artistic unity. Famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova had a tragic life. Her husband, poet Nikolai Gumilev, was executed and their son Lev Gumilev was arrested. Nikolai was a Silver Age poet who created a new literary movement — acmeism - which depicted direct expression through clear images and which was in confrontation with abstract symbolism.

Akhmatova, also an acmeist, dedicated numerous lyrical poems to him, as well as he to her. The marriage lasted eight stormy years before finally breaking down. After he was declared an enemy of the people and executed by Soviet authorities for opposition to the Bolsheviks, Akhmatova refused to denounce him and helped preserve his poetic legacy.

While one of the most famous successors to the Gogolian tradition in Soviet literature, Mikhail Zoshchenko is not well known to foreign readers. He wrote most of his best stories in the s showing how the ideals of the revolution were replaced by petit bourgeois values. Zoshchenko's stories are vignettes or anecdotes: short, in simple language, often paradoxical and always very funny. Even so, Zoshchenko was somewhat a favorite of the Soviet elite who viewed his satire in ideological terms - as a denunciation of "Philistinism" and the "birthmarks of the old world.

Stalin signaled a crackdown, and in Zoshchenko was labelled a vulgar and loathsome proponent of non-progressive and apolitical ideas. Along with poet Anna Akhmatova, Zoshchenko was expelled by special decree from the Union of Writers and deprived of his "worker's" ration card. Publishers, journals and theaters began canceling their contracts and demanding that advances be returned. Censored, arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital, Kharms starved during the siege of Leningrad in , and his writings survived mostly in secret manuscripts, passed from hand to hand. The deliberate undermining of heroic images is in stark contrast with the officially sanctioned grandeur of socialist realist art in the Soviet era.

We put these two writers in one entry because they were coauthors and wrote all their most famous books in collaboration. Born in Odessa, the capital of humor in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, they became famous as Soviet kings of irony and adventurous plots. And Coke was another thing they were surprised by.

Zinaida Gippius was a prominent and significant Russian poet, prose writer and critic. Her poetic and cultural influence went hand in hand with her refusal to conform to prescribed notions of femininity. In , after marrying Dmitry Merezhkovsky, who was a significant poet, writer and literary critic, she moved to St. Petersburg from her native Tula. The pair soon became key figures in St. Following the October Revolution in and the subsequent civil war, Gippius and Merezhkovsky joined the exodus of many prominent writers, philosophers and statesmen from Russia, moving to Paris in Merezhkovsky was a son of a privy councilor of Czar Alexander II.

His childhood homes, a palatial dacha on St. Merezhovsky and his wife Zinaida Gippius became increasingly interested in esoteric religion, attempting to create their own church. They were an influential couple, gathering in their Petersburg house many talented poets and writers. He became friends with another exiled writer, Ivan Bunin. Voznesensky is one of the most famous poets of the generation of the s, the so-called Sixtiers.

Together with Yevtushenko and Akhmadulina they packed huge halls as people flocked to listen to them read their poetry. Most popular were evenings in the Moscow Polytechnical Museum. He considered himself a follower of Pasternak's tradition, and his work angered Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who openly criticized the poet and suggested that he leave the country.

Since the s Voznesensky was more conformist and was published more frequently. His poems were interpreted into pop-songs in the s. Fet and Tyutchev are frequently studied together in Russian schools. So probably these two poets could have a battle for a place in our rating. He is a romantic poet, and the main themes of his lyrics are nature, love, beauty and art.