Andrei Siniavskii: A Hero of His Time?

Andrei Siniavskii: A Hero of His Time?


Eugenie Markesinis

Series: Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and History
ISBN: 9781618112620 (hardcover)
Pages: 290 pp.
Publication Date: October 2013

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This groundbreaking critical biography of Andrei Siniavskii (1925-1997) as a writer in and of his time shows how this subtle and complex author found his way in a society polarized into heroes and villains, patriots and traitors, how he progressed from identification with the value system and ideology of his time to reaction against it, and his dissidence expressed in literary terms. Based on a close reading of his work, Andrei Siniavskii: A Hero of his Time? explores the way in which Siniavskii’s art does not simply reflect the circumstances of his life and times but is actively shaped by an intricate commerce between the two.

Eugenie Markesinis received her PhD from University College, London, in 2010. She lives in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom with her husband and dog. This is her first book.

Reviewers sometimes come across a very stimulating and rewarding book only years after its publication. The title finally being ‘noticed’ in this periodical is a good example. … This detailed and perceptive study, nearly everywhere extremely well written, takes its readers in four chapters through the four periods of Siniavskii’s life as a writer: pre-arrest; deprivation of physical freedom; émigré years, spent mainly in France; and post-Soviet or neo-Soviet experiences and his culminating works. … Markesinis comments politely on all the important earlier publications about Siniavskii and has something important to say about each of his works.
— Martin Dewhirst, University of Glasgow, SEER, Vol. 96, No. 2 (April 2018)
This artistic biography of one of the most original and provocative writers in recent Russian literary history is a remarkable achievement. The most dramatic episodes in Siniavskii’s biography are skillfully juxtaposed against the decisive moments of the 20th century in Russia. Written in a dynamic and engaging way, A Hero of His Time? provides fresh perspective on Siniavskii’s legacy by illuminating crucial concepts that informed his politics and poetics. By exploring Siniavskii’s creative development, Eugenie Markesinis challenges her audience to revisit the fundamentals of Russian literary politics, the evolving status of a writer in contemporary society, and the eternally ambiguous relationship between life and art.
— Maria Rubins, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

Table of Contents


Biographical Background
The War
The Thaw
Post-trial: The Camps and Emigration
Art and Dissidence
The Writer

Chapter I
University Years: Evolution of a Method
Gor'kii and Maiakovskii
The Critic and the Writer
Biography as Spectacle. Biography as Life Lived
The Writer as Thief and Conjuror
The Writer as Medium

Chapter II
“The dead are resurrected. Forward—to the sources!” 
The Writer
The Reader
Transfiguration and Resurrection
Fantastic Literary Criticism
The Artist as Impostor
Pasternak and Maiakovskii
Death / Not Death

Chapter III
The Writer as Enemy
Siniavskii and Tertz: The Writer and the Reader
Fantastic Autobiography
Spokoinoi nochi
Chapter 1: “Perevertysh” 
Chapter 2: “Dom svidanii” 
Chapter 3: “Otets” 
Chapter 4: “Opasnye sviazi” 
Chapter 5: “Vo chreve kitovom” 

Chapter IV
“Puteshestvie na Chernuiu rechku” 
Koshkin dom. A Long Distance Novel
Koshkin dom
Zolotoi shnurok