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Leningrad Poetry 1953–1975

The Thaw Generation


Emily Lygo

This is the first book-length study of the outstanding generation of Leningrad poets whose careers began during the Khrushchev Thaw. The text brings together memoirs, interviews, and archival research to construct an account of the world of poetry in Leningrad, in which many now-famous figures began writing. The author describes the institutions, official events, unofficial groups, and informal activities that were attended by many young poets, including the pre-eminent poet of this generation, Iosif Brodsky. Alongside a detailed study of Brodsky’s work from the early 1970s are close readings of two other major poets from this generation whose work has often been overlooked, Viktor Sosnora and Dmitry Bobyshev.


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Acknowledgements ix


Acknowledgements I would like to thank the Sub-Faculty of Russian at the University of Oxford for the help and support I received while I was writing the thesis upon which this book is based. Special thanks go to Gerry Smith, who patiently and attentively supervised the thesis and continues to give advice and provide inspiration. In Russia, many people who aided me during research trips, in particular the staff of TsGALI, St Petersburg, Lyudmila Zubova, Vyacheslav Dolinin and the staff at Memorial, St Petersburg, Aleksey Shel'vakh, Elena Dunaevskaya, Valentina Beletskaya, Aleksandr Markov, and Kirill Alekseev. I benefited from enlightening conversations with Marco Sabbatini and Stanislav Savitsky, who share this research sub- ject. My colleagues at the University of Exeter, Katharine Hodgson and Carol Adlam, have helped me make it through to the end. Catriona Kelly, Andrei Zorin and Jennifer Baines read the manuscript thoroughly and made invaluable suggestions, and Andrew Kahn has been a generous and supportive editor, always encouraging and optimistic. I thank all my family, who have been unfailing in their belief in me, but dedicate this specially to Olly, wishing that he could be here to see it finished. Last and greatest thanks go to Simon, for his wisdom, insight, and love of poetry.

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