Viktor Erofeyev is the author of Russian Beauty, a novel, and the editor of The Penguin Book of New Russian Writing. He lives in Moscow. (March 2001)


The Possessed

The Rasputin File

Edvard Radzinsky, translated by Judson Rosengrant
Rasputin slumbers in the heart of every Russian. But sometimes he doesn’t slumber. If you awaken the Rasputin in yourself, life suddenly overflows its banks: you begin to experience a fierce, incomparable joy from being in a state of outrageousness, dissipation, restlessness, suffering, and desecration. “Violence is the soul’s joy,” …

A Scandal in Moscow

Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were contemporaries, but never cared to meet. Turgenev and Dostoevsky hated each other with a passion. Much of Russian literature is the story of arguments between writers with wounded egos. All too often the Russian writer is childishly certain that the truth belongs to him alone. Perhaps …

An Appeal for Democracy in the Baltic Republics

The text of this appeal to our compatriots was passed at a meeting of cultural and scientific workers which took place at the USSR Cinematographers Union on January 16, 1991. It was published, under the title ‘The Voice of the Intelligentsia,’ in Argumenty i Fakty in late January. We, people …

Neither Salvation nor Sausage

Empire of the Czar: A Journey Through Eternal Russia (Russia in 1839)

by the Marquis de Custine, foreword by Daniel J. Boorstin, introduction by George F. Kennan
Russia in 1839 depicts Russia as it has never been portrayed before, or since. Through images that seem to be reflections in separate distorting mirrors, the Marquis de Custine almost involuntarily created a composite portrait of a backward Russia that was otherwise hidden from view to other visitors, although hardly …


The Russia House

by John le Carré
Russians have a saying that life is richer than any book can be. I have always found this ironic, since life in Russia tends to be dull and gray, notwithstanding the numerous bloodlettings in its history. If Russians have loved literature so passionately, it is perhaps because they have used …