Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Century Of Memory

In the decade since the advent of glasnost, publishers have raced to issue Russian editions of the memoirs of prominent artists and writers whose work, while closed to the Soviet public during the long years of ideological censorship, was published abroad or in translation. The first wave carried on it outstanding authors such as Nadezhda Mandelstam and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. And last winter, Nina Berberova's informative and beautifully written The Italics are Mine was published by Soglasiye.


However, the supply of these formerly banned books has now dried up, and publishers today are having to commission new books to feed the public's hunger for autobiography. What follows are some examples of the new genre.


Well-known contemporary composer Dmitry Tolstoy has told the story of his long life in a long book. What Was It All For? ("Dlya Chego Vsyo Eto Bylo?") stretches to 620 pages and begins with the author's childhood memories of his father, Alexei Tolstoy, the great "Red Count" and Soviet writer. Published by Bibliopolis, this sincere and intriguing book is a bargain at 12,000 rubles ($2.40).


The poet Ida Nappelbaum also reflects in her memoirs, Angle of Reflection ("Ugol Otrazheniya"), on her relationship with her father, the famous turn-of-the-century photographer Moisei Nappelbaum, who immortalized everybody from Lenin to Alexander Blok in his photographs.


Even more interesting perhaps are Nappelbaum's reminiscences of her mentor, Nikolai Gumilyov, the distinguished romantic poet who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1921. Published by Logos, the book is available for 20,000 rubles.


Moisei Altman has written an account of his meetings and conversations with Vyacheslav Ivanov, a great Silver Age poet, in Baku in the 1920s before the poet moved to Rome. Simply entitled Talks with Vyacheslav Ivanov ("Razgovory s...") the book is published by Inapress and is on sale for 20,000 rubles.