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Bites from the Bearded Crocodile

G. Cabrera Infante, 4 June 1981

... scepticism a dangerous deviation to the Right. Silence, rather than acquiescence, was what saved Boris Pasternak. Being outspoken or indiscreet, more than being relevant, was what lost Osip Mandelstam. Padilla, who had lived in Moscow, chose to be both poets at the same time. He could write a poem deriding Fidel Castro and keep it quiet, playing a safe ...
Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia 
by Orlando Figes.
Allen Lane, 729 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 7139 9517 3
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... place where Scriabin (to whose museum Stravinsky made a pilgrimage in 1962), Kandinsky, Malevich, Pasternak and Mayakovsky lived. After the Revolution, ‘it became the Soviet capital, the cultural centre of the state, a city of modernity and of the new industrial society the Bolsheviks wanted to build.’ Tatlin designed a monument, never built, to express ...

Off the record

John Bayley, 19 September 1985

Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Collins, 880 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 00 261454 5
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... Jews, he had been particularly loyal to the regime throughout the war and the purges, and unlike Pasternak and the Mandelstams, he had spoken its language and known it from within. He strikes one, ironically, as a native member of the Nomenklatura, just as Tolstoy was a native of the aristocracy: both have the common touch, in the particular sense of ...

One Exceptional Figure Stood Out

Perry Anderson: Dmitri Furman, 30 July 2015

... generally remained – Bunin, Aldanov, Nabokov were the exceptions, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Pasternak the rule; not to speak of those who sided with the revolution (Platonov, Babel, Mayakovsky) – the human sciences were badly affected. Of those who stayed, the Formalists and their kin survived best: Shklovsky, Tynyanov, Eikhenbaum; Voloshinov and ...

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