Maximilian Voloshin and the Russian Literary Circle

Maximilian Voloshin and the Russian Literary Circle

Culture and Survival in Revolutionary Times
Barbara Walker
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/14/2004
ISBN: 978-0-253-11043-5
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Barbara Walker examines the Russian literary circle, a feature of Russian intellectual and cultural life from tsarist times into the early Soviet period, through the life story of one of its liveliest and most adored figures, the poet Maximilian Voloshin (1877–1932). From 1911 until his death, Voloshin led a circle in the Crimean village of Koktebel’ that was a haven for such literary luminaries as Marina Tsvetaeva, Nikolai Gumilev, and Osip Mandelstam. Drawing upon the anthropological theories of Victor Turner, Walker depicts the literary circle of late Imperial Russia as a contradictory mix of idealism and "communitas," on the one hand, and traditional Russian patterns of patronage and networking, on the other. While detailing the colorful history of Voloshinov’s circle in the pre- and postrevolutionary decades, the book demonstrates that the literary circle and its leaders played a key role in integrating the intelligentsia into the emerging ethos of the Soviet state.

Author Bio

Barbara Walker is Associate Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno.


“Barbara Walker’s excellent book is an extended gloss on Tsvetaeva’s remark that Voloshin knew people. Like Tsvetaeva, Walker treats Voloshin not as a poet, but as a literary impresario, canny networker, and creative host. Voloshin called himself a peddler of ideas, Tsvetaeva records, but he was also a peddler of friends, one of whose vocations in life was to bring people together, to create encounters and destinies. The benign mentor evolved into a wily and skilful manipulator of his culture, a master of its microdynamics of power. So, Walker’s book is not a biography, but rather a deeply rooted account of Voloshin’s role in the internal development of the Russian intelligentsia at a time of lacerating political and cultural change . .”
 — TLS

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Table of Contents


List of illustrations

An Introduction in Three Parts
Chapter 1. Voloshin's Social and Cultural Origins
Chapter 2. The Russian Symbolists and Their Circles
Chapter 3. Voloshin and the Modernist Problem of the Ugly Poetess
Chapter 4. The Koktebel' Dacha Circle
Chapter 5. Insiders and Outsiders, Gossip and Mythology: From Communitas toward Network Node
Chapter 6. Voloshin Carves Power out of Fear
Chapter 7. Voloshin Carves Power, Cont'd, and the Broader Context and Implications of his Activities
Chapter 8. Inside Voloshin's Soviet Circle (and Beyond): Persistence of Structure, Preservation of Anti-structure
Chapter 9. Collapse of a Patronage Network and Voloshin's Death