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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Place For a Poet

When the poet Vladislav Khodasevich (1886-1939) fled the Soviet Union in the early 1920s, it was not for political reasons. He was following his heart, and more specifically Nina Berberova, a young Russian writer who was later to become his wife, be a professor at Princeton and achieve literary celebrity with the publication of her elegant memoirs, "The Italics Are Mine."


After he emigrated, Khodasevich, who was of mixed Polish and Russian-Jewish origin, lived in Berlin and Paris where he eked out a living working as a columnist for emigr? periodicals while writing classical-style verse along the Pushkin model.


Khodasevich's career as a poet was essentially solitary. He did not find a place for himself among the poetic circles of Russia's Silver Age. He said of his literary fate: "After leaving symbolism, Tsvetayeva and I did not join any group; we remained alone and wild. Literary critics and the editors of poetic anthologies do not know where to put us."


However, Soviet editors and publishers solved this problem very simply: they failed to include Khodasevich at all. As a result, not a single line of his poetry was published officially in the Soviet Union for almost 70 years.


And fans of the poet (such as myself) were forced to read him in pre-Gutenberg form. Some hand-written collections of Khodasevich's poetry have a place of pride in my library alongside the samizdat editions of Nikolai Gumilyov and Osip Mandelstam's work.


This situation has been remedied during the past decade, which has witnessed the publication of nearly a dozen editions of Khodasevich's prose and poetry.


This week sees the publication by Soglasiye of Volume 2 of Khodasevich's Collected Works. This 600-page edition (as well as Volume 1 issued last autumn) costs the ruble equivalent of about $6.


The remaining two volumes are scheduled for release in the spring.