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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BOOKWORM: Almanac Of Years Gone By




Ex-Soviet dissident, historian, editor and publisher Vladimir Alloy has won his place in history by nearly single-handedly publishing 24 volumes of his Minuvsheye. Istorichesky Almanakh (The Bygone. Historical Almanac) during the last 20 years, living first in France, then in Russia. They represent a formidable collection of memoirs, diaries and correspondence by leading Russian writers and religious thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Take, for example, the 24th volume of Minuvsheye, published this year. The 684-page book is being circulated through Moscow's "intellektualny" bookstores for 35 to 50 rubles (under $2).


In order to properly present the scope of its content, here are the annotations to its eight texts.


1. Nikolai Engelgard's memoirs about journalistic and theatrical life in Russia from the 1890s to the 1920s.


2. Correspondence between the editors and authors of Zveno, the cultural journal of the pre-World War II Russian diaspora, including letters by Nobel laureate Ivan Bunin.


3. "Paris: the Great Illusion." A modern essay by author Boris Frezinsky on the 1935 International Writers' Congress in Defense of Culture.


4. The epistolary dialogue between Yury Terapiano and Vladimir Markov that vividly illustrates the intellectual divide between two waves of the Russian diaspora.


5. Letters from prison by archpriest Mikhail Cheltsov, jailed in 1922 and shot in 1931.


6. Archive story about the tragic fate of Russian Catholics in post-revolutionary Leningrad.


7. Documents detailing the last year of the Petrograd Theological Institute's existence, 1923.


8. The diary of Nikolai Vakar, contributor to the Russian emigr? journal Posledniye Novosti, containing fascinating scenes of the "brilliant pre-World War II Russian Paris."


Also in the 10 years since his return to Russia, Vladimir Alloy has published seven volumes of the biographical almanac Litsa (Faces), three volumes of Nevsky Arkhiv, and a dozen thick issues of the literary magazine P.S., or Postscriptum.


Now it is all over.


Earlier this summer Alloy cut short all his publications and went back to Paris. There were several reasons for this decision. First, it proved difficult to publish serious literature without financial assistance. Second, the publisher refused to take sides in today's ideological struggle between liberal democrats and nationalist "Russophiles," as a result of which both parties lost interest in his books.


So this summer, Vladimir Alloy published the 25th volume of Minuvsheye, an index to the previous 24 tomes, and an annotated directory ? and left.