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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 5 Dmitry Bobyshev 233


Chapter 5 Dmitry Bobyshev Dmitry Bobyshev came from a well-to-do family in Leningrad: his step- father was a naval engineer, and the family lived in a spacious and elegant flat on Tauride Street (Tavricheskaia ulitsa). He did reasonably well at school, and, in 1953, went on to study Chemical Engineering at the Lensoviet Technological Institute. He does not seem to have had any real enthu- siasm for his subject. Instead, soon after entering the institute, he began to develop an interest in poetry, found like-minded friends Evgeny Rein and Anatoly Naiman, and participated in the readings, poetry competi- tions, and various LITOs described in chapters one and two. In 1960, he graduated, married his first wife Natal'ya, and began his first job at a closed institute where research was carried out into the materials for the H-bomb. By this time, he had become well known in poetry circles in Leningrad, and his work was circulating in samizdat. Bobyshev’s work was included in Aleksandr Ginzburg’s Sintaksis No. 3 (Syntax No. 3), along with some of his poet-friends Rein, Eremin, Uflyand, and Brodsky. None of the early poems from Sintaksis are included in Bobyshev’s published collections, nor were they published officially; the audience of friends and acquaintances in the poetry circles of Leningrad formed his early readership. Clearly, the friendships with poets and participation in Leningrad poetry circles in the early 1960s were important because they nurtured Bobyshev’s interest in poetry. In 1963, however, he became separated from much of this world...

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