Synopses & Reviews
No other contemporary novel provides such clear insight into the Russian mind and way of life as Andrei Bitov's Pushkin House
. First published in the United States in 1987 and highly praised for its inventiveness, Pushkin House
survives as a literary masterpiece, even after the fall of Communism.
Though the novel's focus is a love affair between Lyova and Faina, the novel's true subject is an investigation of the corruption of Soviet intellectual life and history. Working within many of the confines imposed upon him during the Soviet regime, Bitov ingeniously draws upon Russian literary models, especially that of Nabokov, in order to parody and satirize the stifling society about him, as well as Russian literary tradition.
"Modern Russian-Soviet literature, enchained from the late 1920's until Stalin's death in 1953, continues to seek its voice. Aside from Dr. Zhivago, an intensely political novel in spite of itself, it has produced no really outstanding work. Andrei Bitov's Pushkin House represents one of the better efforts of the past three decades, but ultimately it falls under the weight of its dense if positive philosophy, its many-layered historical setting, and finally its clumsy plot structure. For all those faults, it stands above most of the competition." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
Bitov's renowned novel of 60s-era Soviet Russia, which the London Review of Books called "the most interesting work to come out of Soviet literature since the Twenties, " appears in a new edition from Dalkey Archive. While on the surface its focus is an affair between the lovers Lyova and Faina, its true subject is the erosion of intellectual life under Soviet rule. Drawing on literary influences from Dostoevsky to Nabokov, Bitov creates a satirical world that is at once subtle enough to have eluded government censorship, but powerful enough to mark him as "the most interesting still-Russian prose writer to come our way" (Kirkus).
"Probably the most interesting work to come out of Soviet literature since the Twenties."--London Review of Books
Includes bibliographical references (p. 363-371).
About the Author
Andrei Bitov was born in St. Petersburg in 1937. He studied at the Mining Institute there, but was expelled when he began neglecting his studies to write poetry. He worked as a stevedore, served in the army, returned to the institute, and started to write prose. In 1963 he became a full-time writer of stories. A collection of these stories, Life in Windy Weather, was published in translation in 1986. Other books that have been translated into English include Pushkin House, The Monkey Link, and Captive of the Caucasus.Susan Brownsberger, praised as "learned and resourceful" by the New York Times, specializes in translating Russian literature to English. She has translated works such as M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin's Story of a Town, Vladimir Voinovich's The Fur Hat, Yuz Aleshkovsky's The Hand, Or the Confession of the Executioner, and Andrei Bitov's Pushkin House.