Freedom From Violence and Lies: Essays on Russian Poetry and Music by Simon Karlinsky

Freedom From Violence and Lies: Essays on Russian Poetry and Music by Simon Karlinsky

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Edited by Robert P. Hughes, Thomas A. Koster & Richard A. Taruskin

Series: Ars Rossica
ISBN: 9781618111586 (hardcover)
Pages: 502 pp.
Publication Date: June 2013

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Simon Karlinsky (1924-2009) was a prolific, provocative, and controversial scholar of modern Russian literature, of sexual politics, and of music. He held advanced degrees from Harvard University (MA, 1961) and the University of California, Berkeley (PhD, 1964), where he taught in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures from 1964 to 1991. Among his path-breaking publications were two studies of the life and works of Marina Tsvetaeva (in 1966 and 1985), The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol (1976), Russian Drama from Its Beginnings to the Age of Pushkin (1985), and editions of the letters of Anton Chekhov (1973), as well as the letters of Russian emigre writers and the correspondence between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson (1979; 2001). He was a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and a wide range of professional journals.


Robert P.  Hughes is professor emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the editor of the collected works of Vladislav Khodasevich and the author of numerous articles on modern Russian literature.

Thomas A.  Koster is the assistant vice chancellor for capital programs and planning at the University of California, Berkeley.

Richard A.  Taruskin is the Class of 1955 Professor of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions (1996), Defining Russia Musically (1997), and the Oxford History of Western Music (2005).


A loving tribute to Karlinsky by his colleagues at UC Berkeley who served as editors and translators, this wide-ranging volume offers a miscellany of his book reviews and articles on poetry and music never collected before. . . . Karlinsky’s reviews engage with major scholarly works on Russian poetry and music and present a unique document in the history of Russian studies in America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Hughes, Koster, and Taruskin edit unobtrusively and expertly, updating Karlinsky’s critical apparatus in footnotes and commentaries so as not to render the reviews obsolete, and provide invaluable information and further quotations by Karlinsky to illuminate his intellectual legacy and the controversies surrounding his uncompromisingly incisive writing. . . . Karlinsky’s provocative thought, lucid writing, strong opinions, and biting wit make the volume a pleasure to read. In its vivid introductions to poets, Freedom from Violence and Lies will appeal to general readers interested in all things Russian, as well as to all students and scholars of Russian poetry, music, and culture.
— Polina Dimova (Oberlin College), in the Slavic and East European Journal, vol. 58, no. 4 (Winter 2015)
All of the essays have been lovingly and intelligently edited by Robert P. Hughes, Thomas A. Koster and Richard Taruskin. Not only do their commentaries situate Karlinsky’s work in the context of both his life and the field at the time. . . they also attest to the impact that Karlinsky had on them as a human being, a teacher and a scholar. . . Reading these incisive and invigorating essays, one encounters an individual unforgiving of crassness, stupidity and carelessness, yet appreciative of the creative potential of those who live their humanity fully and authentically.
— Philip Ross Bullock (Wadham College, University of Oxford), in the Slavonic & East European Review, Vol. 92, No. 2, April 2014