The University of Wisconsin Press

Russian & Slavic Studies / Biography / History / Poetry / Literature & Criticism


A Biography
Vladislav Khodasevich
Translated and with an introduction by Angela Brintlinger

A Publication of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies
General Editors: David M. Bethea and Alexander Dolinin

"Khodasevich, himself a major poet and brilliant literary historian and critic, created a work that demonstrates in a real sense what it must have felt like to see the boisterous eighteenth-century Russian world through Derzhavin's eyes."–David M. Bethea, University of Wisconsin­Madison, series editor

Russian poet, soldier, and statesman Gavriil Derzhavin (1743–1816) lived during an epoch of momentous change in Russia–imperial expansion, peasant revolts, war with Turkey, and struggle with Napoleon–and he served three tsars, including Catherine the Great. Here in its first English translation is the masterful biography of Derzhavin by another acclaimed Russian man of letters, Vladislav Khodasevich.

Derzhavin occupied a position at the center of Russian life, uniting civic service with poetic inspiration and creating an oeuvre that at its essence celebrated the triumphs of Russia and its rulers, particularly Catherine the Great. His biographer Khodasevich, by contrast, left Russia in 1922, unable to abide the increasingly repressive regime of the Soviets. For Khodasevich, whose lyric poems were as commonplace in their focus as Derzhavin's odes were grand, this biography was in a sense a rediscovery of a lost and idyllic era, a period when it was possible to aspire to the pinnacles of artistic achievement while still occupying a central role in Russian society.

Khodasevich writes with humor, intelligence, and understanding, and his work stands as a monument to the last three centuries of Russian history, lending keen insight into Russia's past as well as its present and future.

"Gives a very rare and profound insight into the very fabric of what Shakespeare might have called 'a Russian eye in a fine frenzy rolling' and Brodsky would understand as the ultimate dialogue about the very 'stuff' of poetry."–Alexander Levitsky, Brown University

Vladislav Khodasevich (1886–1939), called by Vladimir Nabokov (in 1939) "the greatest Russian poet that the twentieth century has yet produced," was also an outstanding memoirist and biographer.

Angela Brintlinger is associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the Ohio State University. She is the author of Writing a Usable Past: Russian Literary Culture, 19171937 and coeditor of Madness and the Mad in Russian Culture.

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Of Related Interest
Poemy i povesti, Volume 1
Narrative Poems and Tales, Part 1
Alexander Pushkin
Edited by David M. Bethea and Nikita Okhotin

The cover of Derzhavin is dark, with a contemporary color painting of Derzhavin, wearing some kind of turban or head covering. Ghosted in the background is a close-up of his face. Three red lines add an accent.

December 2007

344 pp.  6 x 9  
25 b/w illus.

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Cloth $60.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-22420-2
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