Without a place of my own, without a steady job, i spent three-quarters of my time in reading rooms. And i kept moving from one friend's to another's, adding to my stock of samizdat. By the way, i am no sort of "child of the 20th Congress as I have read somewhere. For starters, i wasn't in Moscow then i had only camels to discuss politics with at the time. And anyway that congress was the idiot child of changes in a sick society that had long since come to fruition. The only thing that doesn't lose its worth over the years (apart from the pages that I have read that remains in my memory, are conversations, the silhouettes of women, the color of clouds, and the smell of mildewed archives that's my experience. By the time i was 25, i had tried at least a dozen professions: theatrical actor, archivist, teacher. After that, for six years I beavered away (never for long anywhere) at proofreading, book editing i wrote my dissertation on the history of pedagogy, did my time roaming over nearly the entire map of the ussr as a roving correspondent and photographer for various.
Rod: The autobiography : Rod Stewart
Ultimately a noisy meeting was held and I was expelled from the komsomol. The true reason was that they wanted to name their own zavuch in place of the exile in their midst and, i suspected, market the high-school diplomas for profit. I did like teaching, though, and since that time i have felt comfortable speaking in front of any audience. I have preserved one beautifully bound exemplar of a samizdat collection of my poems, Eleven Steps (Moscow, 1969) translations from Shakespeare, shelley, blake, and the latvian poet Janis rainis th at I had done in the long evenings looking out under the howling wind onto. Other poems in that collection were about events in that kazakh life of mine, about the windstorms, when sand would crunch and grit in your teeth even back in your room, about the island of lepers in the Aral sea, and about a plague epidemic. Afterwards only a single poem of this lot was ever published, and that only by chance. I have never had any desire to take anything from that lot for my collected works, for instance. Life was a whirl, in Moscow at the end of the 1950s. Nabokov said that he was born in a library. I can say that I lived in libraries in those years.
Even here in California now, i can't forget the real meaning of the phrase "a long way from Moscow." I spent two years in the kazakh desert (1955—57 in the middle Ages — with a railroad, though. This was at saksaulsky station, not far from the Aral sea: twenty two-story homes, a hamlet of mud-brick huts and a muslim cemetery. The raucous, be-robed crowd at the station haggled over melons and rancid camel flesh. All the local bosses (chiefs of the station, of the police, of the central mess-hall) had three wives apiece — i don't really know who set norms like that, since four are allowed under Muslim law. People of various ages from the railroad depot studied at the young Workers' nightschool, from switchmen to train-drivers. Due to the lack of teachers, i taught all subjects except chemistry, and then I became the zavuch a russian position something like a principal, but only in charge of what is taught and how as well. For a certain while the local kgb man snuffled around me suspiciously, retelling me in his accent the jokes that I had told somewhere else barbing the day before.
But what amazed me at the time and what I was soon to be hamme red for in the seminar—was the gradual darkening mood of the poet's verse, year by year. And they did have their reasons: it was Pushkin's optimism that we were supposed to advance and strengthen, not reduce down to nothin. A line of his london "October had already come" was treated back then as foreseeing the revolution. It would have been easy to get swallowed up by pushkin scholars, but I had to remain myself. It took decades before i could speak out on my own. My books about him had already been published in the west. My work-assignment salon after the Institute was in essence my second exile, and a more sullen one.
He'd snuck up on one of our performances, and something about it seemed to him ideologically unrestrained. I earned my daily bread at the October revolution Archive. I tramped up and down the rickety stairs in that frozen church on Kadashy, locating and bringing out the heavy paper-cases to my senior co-workers. A long line of political prisoners just out of the camps stood on the church-porch, to get their work-probation certified. I took up with some of them, then became friends, helping them write their memoirs, which then went on to be samizdat, the hand-copied and clandestinely-disseminated literature of the era. Since that time, to the present day, i have felt guilty about those people: they went to prison, and I didn't—they served their sentences for all of us, for our common sins. Under the patronage of the imposing Pushkin scholar Arusyak gukasova i wrote my naïve bachelor's thesis, "Pushkin's Cycle of Lyceum Anniversaries" (the manuscript of which most likely wound up in the trash basket, like all student compositions). Of course, i neither knew nor understood Pushkin. Or, more exactly, understood him as I had been taught and as it had been possible to read about him in the filtered-down literature.
Dastur Dhalla: The saga of a soul
I played volleyball on the latvian state words students' team and made it to the All-Union championships Moscow. I wrote my first work of literary criticism, "Pushkin and mayakovsky: Historical parallels." But I remember better how thirteen of us students lived in the cellar of our hostel. One of my roommates would come back at four o'clock in the morning from a tryst with english his girlfriend, climb through the window above my head, and walk fully-shod on top of me to his own bed. Strangely enough, i was helped to return to moscow and enter the historical-philological faculty of the pedagogical Institute by the Stalinist stooge Dmitry polikarpov, the former Secretary of the Writers' Union and the former head of the cultural Department of the central Committee. After the leader's death, polikarpov had been removed from those posts, but, inasmuch as he was nomenklatura, had been given the job of director of the Institute, the former Second Moscow University. I came in off the street to see him in the cold summer of 1953.
I sat in line in the reception room and wrote out my application: I said I'd been in Riga for two whole years now, and me a muscovite. Polikarpov, a beefy, simple muzhik with a booming voice, glanced at my application. "Don't need a hostel? It's more fun to guzzle down your cabbage soup at home with your family" I couldn't believe my ears, that I was coming back to moscow. The donkey's tail of disloyalty that had been pinned on me at school had withered and dropped off, evidently, in connection with the changing times in the country. But then Polikarpov shook a finger at me: "But after the Institute we're going to assign you somewhere far away" he scratched the back of his head and scrawled slantwise across the application: "Enroll in third year." The company turned out to be a fruitful. On one occasion, polikarpov himself very nearly kicked us all out onto the street.
Could it ever have entered my mind that forty years later I should have spent a considerable part of my life in northern California, not far from his house and his grave in Glen Ellen? My memory has preserved since childhood the jack london assertion: "I'd rather be ashes than dust. Better my spark should burn out than they smother it in grayness. Better to be a meteor flashing than an eternally sleeping planet. The destiny of a man is to live, not just exist. I won't stand for wasting my days only in order to extend them.
I'll seize whatever moment is allotted." Finishing high-school in 1951, i nearly won a silver medal. But I got a "three" (something like a c in America) in history "for errors in the account of the role of Comrade Stalin in the civil War." I was turned down for a place in two moscow universities, even though I had achieved perfect. At a third, the sympathetic admissions-committee chairman called down the corridor after me "And they're not going to take you anywhere don't get your hopes." I heard from a friend in Riga that there was a shortfall in applications to the university's Russian depart. I made the trip and was accepted. Pushkin's formula, "a willful Exile could not be bettered: this was something reminiscent of his "sweet banishment." like him, i had two different periods of banishment, and both were productive. In Riga, occupied by the russians at the time but still redolent of the west, i conversed with Latvian people in their own language. Evenings I would make a bit of money as a third-rank actor (more simply put, an extra) in the theater—I have a non-fiction short story about that time. I collected a multitude of rare books.
Albrecht D rer : Art, life, and Times
I saved up my money for a presentation year and bought it, broken, in a second-hand store, repaired it myself, and never parted with it for half my lifetime. For some reason I loved learning and pursued it with zeal. I memorized Gogol's prose in whole chapters. I knew half of Eugene Onegin by heart, and easily made my way through mathematics and physics. I learned English courtesy of the bbc, through the jamming — a classmate of mine built a shortwave receiver, and we would listen to it for hours. It was after high school that I discovered that the craftsman had been jailed for espionage: his neighbor asked him to make him a little radio receiver so he could tune in to foreign broadcasts, and he turned out to be an informer. Around the age of fifteen I decided to read all the classics of literature, especially western ones. I read avidly, and not individual pieces, either, but whole collected works. I never dreamed of journeying to faraway places, but Jack london always lay beneath my pillow.
To this day i cannot fathom why him, in particular. It wasn't without its uses, though, because when I juridique got a bit older I would take these compositions hiking along with me: they made great kindling for soggy wood. Our building had been bombed flat. After paying a bribe, we were registered in a flat that didn't exist. We lived for the next fifteen years renting a corner in someone else's place. I wore patched-up used clothes and a turned-inside-out old-lady's overcoat that caused me huge embarrassment—but there wasn't anything else. Nevertheless, i did acquire personal property: a pre-war German Messerschmidt typewriter, with Russian letters soldered onto.
and how I hated the violin! The second World War solved that problem, in passing. When we were evacuated to Udmurtia (to votkinsk, then Izhevsk) I learned to dig potatoes, to ride a horse and herd other horses to water, and to beat the tambourine in an institution entitled "House of Children's Artistic Education." I had Mark Twain with. I would go scouting in the woods for cranberries, and would find my bearings, in the absence of a compass, by the moss on the trees. I made up an automobile for myself out of a broken chair with a baby-carriage wheel affixed. My clearest recollection of all is hunger, the dream of a loaf of black bread that I would be given to eat up on my own. Various bits of detail from this period found their way into my novel Passport to yesterday, about a violinist from San Francisco, but to consider that novel — written about the fate of three whole generations — autobiographical would be to oversimplify a writer's view. From the age of ten I filled up one student copybook after another with verses in imitation of Lermontov.
Strand Number One, or my happy youth, warmed by the beams of Stalin's Constitution. I was born in the 33rd year of what is already the last century. Zamoskvorechye, an old district of Moscow resumes redolent of history. One should think that many of the details of infancy and youth, for those of us who arent leo tolstoy, could be omitted for brevity's sake: such details have practically no literary significance. Anyway, with my generation, our soviet childhoods proceeded identically, in the main. I cannot understand how, in an eight-square-meter room, a corner of which has to hold a stove, too, our family along with our indispensable servant girl Manya fit in: she had to spread her bedding on the floor between the two children's beds and the. Manya took me for a walk to red Square, whispered: "Over here is where Granpa lenin lies." I recall my fright when a cop told her sternly: "It's forbidden to point your finger at the mausoleum!" Yet another detail: I can't keep a single new. I was taught to play the violin from the age of four. They took.
Essay into the world - 820 Words
How would I have rather lived and what created, if we are to begin at the beginning? Would I have done everything otherwise? Or would I not care to change a thing? I know my own biography worse than i know the life and times of Pushkin something I have spent thousands of pages describing worse than the biographies of many russian, English, german, French, and American writers who have been a part of the half-ce ntury. B esides, to talk about oneself seriously is not a serious thing, while to write unseriously about the works to which I have devoted my life would be ridiculous. It's tempting to compose an alternative biography "What I would be like, if I had " But I shall inscribe my own, with all its absurdities. In the helix of my life it is possible to make out four strands that were snapped off halfway: write two of them are the russian half; the two others, the American, or, in a broader sense, the entire world.