IN THE REVIEW

His Neighbor’s Wife

I Love: The Story of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Lili Brik

by Ann Charters and Samuel Charters

Brik and Mayakovsky

by Vahan D. Barooshian
In 1922 Mayakovsky prefaced an autobiographic sketch with the following remark: “I am a poet. This is what makes me interesting.” Lili and Osip Brik might have said: “We were friends of Mayakovsky. This is what makes us interesting.” He spent almost half his life, fifteen of his thirty-six years, …

The Undefeated

Russian Thinkers

by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Aileen Kelly and Henry Hardy
In a brief preface to this book, Isaiah Berlin seems to show some reluctance about its publication. “The essays collected in this volume,” he writes, “the first of four, were written or delivered as lectures, on various occasions over almost thirty years, and therefore possess less unity of theme than …

Artist of Nightmare

Andrei Bely: His Life and Works

by Konstantin Mochulsky, translated by Nora Szalavitz

Petersburg

by Andrei Bely, translated, annotated, and introduced by Robert A. Maguire and John E. Malmstad
In the intellectually giddy, combative, brilliant period of Russian art at the turn of the century, Andrei Bely was an outstanding figure, the best representative, no doubt, of its ultra-romantic speculations and experiments. He was “an undisciplined and erratic Ariel,” in D.S. Mirsky’s witty characterization, “a seer and prophet” to …

On the Western Front

Prussian Nights: A Poem

by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, translated by Robert Conquest

To Be Preserved Forever

by Lev Kopelev, translated and edited by Anthony Austin
In 1941, directly after his graduation from the University of Rostov, Solzhenitsyn entered the army and spent four years at the front. He was awarded two decorations and the rank of captain. In January 1945 he commanded an “observation battery” in the East Prussian campaign, at the end of which, …

Was Gogol Gay?

The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol

by Simon Karlinsky
Simon Karlinsky is convinced that Gogol’s “emotional orientation” was homosexual, and this is what his book is about. In his opinion the topic is of first importance, a “neglected area in Gogol’s life and work,” taboo even in universities. So much so that, as one is shocked to learn, some …

Light from Above

A Voice from the Chorus

by Abram Tertz (Andrei Sinyavsky), Translated from the Russian by Kyril Fitzlyon and Max Hayward
In the 1960s readers in the West speculated about the identity of “Abram Tertz,” whose work, arriving from Soviet Russia, was being published in Paris, London, and New York. The writing was highly original and varied in tone: humorous, terrifying, phantasmagoric, satiric, devout. Between 1959 and 1965 there appeared an …

Jeweler at Work

Details of a Sunset and Other Stories

by Vladimir Nabokov
“This collection,” Mr. Nabokov announces in a foreword, “is the last batch of my Russian stories meriting to be Englished.” There are thirteen of them. Written and published in émigré journals between 1924 and 1935, they belong to the outset of his career when he was leading in Berlin “an …