To the Editors:
The recent arrest and detention of the young Soviet scholar Konstantin Azadovsky, Chairman of the Department of Literature of the Mukhin Institute for Applied Arts in Leningrad, is a matter of grave concern to all those who know his work and hold it in high esteem. Azadovsky, a specialist in comparative and Russian literature, has done important work on Grillparzer, Pasternak, Rilke, Tsvetaeva, Dostoevsky, and others. According to a New York Times report (January 19, 1981), he was arrested in conjunction with an unauthorized literary event in Leningrad.
The arrest or harassment of scholars and cultural figures of world renown justly evokes an immediate and sharp response in the Western scholarly community. Yet lesser-known figures like Azadovsky frequently are victimized by police bureaucracies. Their fate too often is met with silence. We know Konstantin Azadovsky personally and regard him as a man of absolute integrity. We wish to protest against his arrest and to call attention to the indignity perpetrated against a person who already has contributed much to the best in Soviet scholarship.
Vera S. Dunham, City University of New York; Victor Erlich, Yale University; Robert Louis Jackson, Yale University