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Written history

Published: February 3, 2006 (Issue # 1142)


An anthology of literature by winners of the independent Andrei Bely Prize was presented to the reading public this week.

A few days before Christmas 1978, about 15 people gathered in the Leningrad apartment of art critic Yury Novikov to inaugurate the newly minted Andrei Bely Literary Prize, which consisted of three items: an apple, a bottle of vodka (first shots for laureates), and three rubles.

This month, Moscow publishing house NLO, Novoye Literaturnoye Obozreniye (New Literary Review), released a major, single-volume anthology with excerpts by all 63 Andrei Bely Prize laureates from 1978-2004.

The publication was celebrated Monday at art-club Platforma, with readings by poetry laureates Arkady Dragomoshchenko (1978), Alexander Gornon (1991) and Mikhail Yeryomin (1998), as well as short speeches by Boris Ostanin, Boris Ivanov, committee members Alexander Skidan and Dmitry Kuzmin, and St. Petersburg University Professor Lyudmila Zubova.

The prizes first three recipients were Viktor Krivulin for poetry, Boris Groys for philosophy/theory, and Dragomoshchenko for prose. All three had been published in the underground literary monthly Chasy (Watches).

Chasy was one of several samizdat magazines which formed an underground literary movement in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Critic and prose writer Ivanov was the magazines first organizer, and its editors included now-well-known writers and critics Ostanin, Novikov, and Dragomoshchenko.

Chasy, as well as such publications as 37, edited by Krivulin and Tatiana Goricheva, and Obvodny Kanal, edited by Kiril Butyrin and Sergei Stratanovsky, aimed to circulate literary production and criticism from what was called the second culture of unofficial art.

But Chasy, unlike the other publications, was not based on a single set of aesthetic or ideological criteria, said Dragomoschenko, whose novel Chinese Sun has recently been published in English by Ugly Duckling Press, and whose collection of essays Dust is forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press. It wanted to represent a varied relief, a literary map of the second culture, and publish writers not just from Leningrad, but from various places in Russia.

Ostanin, who had at that time dreamt of converting his dacha into an art commune, believed strongly in the magazines inclusion of all cultural thought on art, theater, jazz, rock, literature and joined the magazine as an organizer after several issues had been published.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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