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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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Chapter 4 Viktor Sosnora 173


Chapter 4 Viktor Sosnora Viktor Sosnora was born in 1936. Although born in the Crimea, he soon returned with his family to their city Leningrad. Various tales of his youth, family and experiences during the war have been published, and these have grown more extraordinary and elaborate over time.1 Dates and details given in one interview do not always match those in another, so it is dif- ficult to piece together an accurate biography. It seems that he was evacu- ated from Leningrad to the South during the war. In the post-war years, his father, who was in the military, was posted to various cities, including Warsaw, Lvov, and Archangelsk. Sosnora lived in Lvov for quite a number of these years, until he began his military service in the mid-1950s. He served in the army probably 1955–8, and then returned to Leningrad and worked in a metallurgical factory until 1963, when he became a full-time writer. He lived with his family, and in their apartment he remembers there were many literary books belonging to his maternal grandfather, including translations of Kafka. These were important for his early development as a writer.2 While working as a metal worker for a number of years, Sosnora also took some evening courses at the Faculty of Philosophy at the univer- sity, but apparently did not complete the degree. He attended the LITO ‘Golos Yunosti’ run by David Dar, and apparently the Mining Institute and PROMKO LITOs as well. Once his poetry came to...

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