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Author Information: Andrei Sinyavsky

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Andrei Donatovich Sinyavsky (1925-1997) was born in Moscow, the only child of a former Left SR. His father's revolutionary past reduced the family to frequent privation and dependence on the salary of his mother, a librarian. After receiving his Ph.D. in Philology from Moscow University in 1952, Sinyavsky became a research fellow at the Institute of World Literature. In 1958 he began teaching at the drama school of the Moscow Arts Theater. Also in the late 1950s, Sinyavsky made his mark as a literary critic, primarily in the progressive Novy Mir. In 1960, his biography of Picasso, written with Igor Golomshtok, appeared, and in 1965, his introduction to the Biblioteka poeta edition of Boris Pasternak's poetry. This last publication coincided with Sinyavsky's arrest.

He had been smuggling works that would not pass Soviet censorship to the West for close to a decade: The Trial Begins, Fantastic Stories, The Makepeace Experiment, Unguarded Thoughts, and "On Socialist Realism" had all been published abroad under his pseudonym, Abram Tertz. In 1966 Sinyavsky stood trial with the writer Yuli Daniel a landmark case that would spark the dissident movement and was sentenced to seven years of hard labor. In camp, Sinyavsky continued to write, sending his Strolls with Pushkin, A Voice from the Chorus, the beginnings of In the Shadow of Gogol and parts of Ivan the Fool home in the form of letters to his wife. In 1971 he was released early from prison and in 1973 allowed to emigrate to France. In Paris he taught at the Sorbonne and published Soviet Civilization: A Cultural History, Ivan the Fool: Russian Folk Belief, and his autobiographical novel Goodnight.



©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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