Andrei Sinyavsky -- who was only recently released from a Soviet labor camp for the crime of having published in the West...

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LETTERS TO THE FUTURE: An Approach to Sinyavsky-Tertz

Andrei Sinyavsky -- who was only recently released from a Soviet labor camp for the crime of having published in the West under the pseudonym Abram Tertz -- is a significant, though still little-known, voice in the Russian tradition. Lourie suggests that as Solzhenitsyn is to Chekhov, Sinyavsky is to Gogol -- a social and philosophical satirist of the first rank. Ibis ""approach"" offers a preliminary outline of the speculative essays, novellas and stories written under the pseudonym; places the author in his post-Stalin historical and Slavic literary traditions; and discusses the official literary criticism he produced under the auspices of the Union of Soviet Writers. The essay On Socialist Realism, Sinyavsky's most influential work, rejected the teleology and ""cosmic provincialism"" of literature-on-command and, more importantly, proposed a new aesthetic to deal with the social horror of Stalinization. Lourie dubs it ""fantastic realism"" and explains ""only a phantasmagoric and grotesque art can adequately mimic the bizarre convolutions of the past and present."" The Trial Begins, Thought Unaware, and Fantastic Stories are assessed as partial successes, whereas The Makepeace Experiment -- an inventive historical parable about the messianic expectations of the Russian people -- gets Lourie's full approval. Sinyavsky's memoir of his seven-year imprisonment, A Voice from the Chorus, is still to be published here -- and is it any wonder that the genre of camp literature has become a ""leading artistic form"" among the Soviets? Sinyavsky-Tertz's career is proof that the most dangerous enemy of any regime is the man who believes in its ideals. A just assessment and a much-needed introduction to a marvelous writer.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974