Trial Begins

ISBN-10: 0520046773
ISBN-13: 9780520046771
Edition: N/A
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Description: Abram Tertz, one of the most important writers to emerge in the Soviet Union since World War II, came to prominence in 1959 when "On Socialist Realism" was published in the West. It was the first important critique of the central dogma of Soviet  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.95
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 11/13/1982
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 220
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.550
Language: English

Abram Tertz, one of the most important writers to emerge in the Soviet Union since World War II, came to prominence in 1959 when "On Socialist Realism" was published in the West. It was the first important critique of the central dogma of Soviet literature. It arrived with a novel. "The Trial Begins," which was published in 1960. Other books followed these into the West, until in 1965 a respected literary scholar at the Gorky Institute, Andrei Sinyavsky was arrested, revealed to be Abram Tertz, tried, and sentenced to seven years in a forced labor camp.

Using the pseudonym Abram Terts, literary critic Andrei Sinyavsky wrote a number of satiric, often grotesque and surrealistic, prose works, including the short novel The Trial Begins (1960) and the essay "On Socialist Realism," a brilliant attack on the cliches of official Soviet literary dogma. In February 1966 he and writer Yuly Daniel were tried in a closed court. In spite of appeals by many writers in Russia and the West, they were sent to the labor camps for maligning the Soviet Union through "hostile" and "slanderous" writings published illegally abroad in the early 1960s. The trial marked the start of confrontations between the authorities and the nascent human-rights movement in the Soviet Union. After Sinyavsky's emigration to the West in 1973, he became a professor of Russian literature at the Sorbonne and continued to publish, both under his own name and the pseudonym. He was very active in emigre literary life, generally taking a liberal, democratic position and frequently finding himself a target of attacks by more-nationalist figures. Sinyavsky's newer writings include A Voice from the Chorus (1973), a hybrid text in which notes and letters from a penal camp are a vehicle for philosophical and literary meditations, and in which the author's own voice is joined by a multitude of voices of other inmates. His A Stroll with Pushkin (1975), a brilliant, joking discussion of Pushkin's art, provoked a storm of criticism both in the Soviet Union and abroad: Sinyavsky has been accused of blaspheming his nation's cultural icon. Little Jinx (1980) is a fantasy in which the personalities of both Sinyavsky and Terts are the objects of playful narrative manipulation. Sinyavsky's varied contributions make him one of the most important figures in contemporary Russian letters. His writings have now been reissued in Russia, where he has recently been awarded an honorary doctorate.

Czeslaw Milosz is the recipient of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. His most recent publications are Striving Towards Being: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czeslaw Milosz (FSG, 1997) and Road-side Dog (FSG, 1998). He lives in Berkeley, California.

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