Tales of the Mountains and Steppes
The White Ship
The Ascent of Mount Fuji
Chast’rechi (Part of Speech)
Sandro iz Chegema (Sandro from Chegem), Novy Mir
The Goatibex Constellation
To Be Preserved Forever, in English
Khranit’ vechno, in Russian
(Three Tales), Novy Zhurnal (The New Review)
Blondin obeego tsveta (The Blond of Both Colors)
Istoriia zhenit’by Ivana Petrovicha (The Story of Ivan Petrovich’s Marriage), Continent
Collected Tales (in Russian)
Seven Days of Creation
Kalina krasnaia (Red Snowball-Tree)
Shkola dlia durakov (A School for Fools)
Prigovor (The Sentence)
Telenok bodalsia s dubom (The Calf Butts the Oak)
Lenin v Tsiurikhe (Lenin in Zurich)
The GULAG Archipelago Two
Dolgoe proshchanie (A Long Goodbye)
“The Exchange,” Russian Literature Triquarterly
Drugaia zhizn’ (“Another Life”)
Zhizn’ i neobychainye prikliucheniia soldata Ivana Chonkin (The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin)
“An Incident in the Metropole,” Continent
Kontinent (Continent) Anchor/Doubleday
In cases where Russian texts are cited, the Russian is given first with the English in parentheses after. A number of these authors have been published in English in Moscow, by Progress Publishers.
The Russian literary scene is bizarre. The funniest new satirical work by a Soviet writer is Vladimir Voinovich’s story of his own real-life battle to get into a two-room apartment which is coveted by another “writer” (only publication: Taiwan Belongs to China) who wants the extra square meters for a toilet (an American toilet at that) which he purchased while at the UN. The finest novel in the last twenty years (Sokolov’s A School for Fools) is by a Russian born in Ottawa who left Moscow this fall to become a gardener and lumberjack in the Vienna Woods. Solzhenitsyn has written a book about Lenin that his friends say is too autobiographical. The best-selling Soviet poet is a blind man who writes like Rod McKuen. The best Russian-language literary journal is published in Munich; the best Russian poet lives in Ann Arbor; and the first Agatha Christie in Russian has gone on sale in Jerusalem.
Because of this odd literary diaspora, a trip from Petersburg to Moscow provides only part of what one needs to know for a full picture of the current literary scene. But nearly every winter for seven years I have made the journey, and did so again in November 1975. Since these visits began in 1969 the community of Soviet writers has gone through several stages. From 1969 through 1971 there was still hope that things could be improved gradually. Then most people thought that the process of de-Stalinization, while it might have its detours and dead ends, could not be totally reversed—and that every year would see the publication of poetry and prose which couldn’t have appeared the year before. Beginning in 1972, however, particularly after Nixon’s visit and the internal crackdown which accompanied détente, the major topic of discussion in many families was whether to stay or to emigrate. By the end of 1975 many of the literary intellectuals who wanted to emigrate had managed to do so; those who remained had made a conscious decision to stay, either because of principles or for practical reasons.
Things (including editors and censors) are getting tougher. Voinovich and others say that the level of the literary journals is perhaps lower now than under Stalin. The mood of the liberal intelligentsia seems demoralized and apprehensive. In spite of this writers keep writing in the face of bureaucratic meddling and foreign indifference.
Leningrad is a colder, more imperious city than Moscow. Literary trials are more frequent there (just last year Vladimir Maramzin was on his way to the Archipelago—and now, thanks to a humane solution, he is in Paris, working for the new magazine Continent); the sense of community among the writers is much weaker than in Moscow. Leningrad is a city for individualists, like Nabokov …