Publication details [#1364]

Ludwigs, Marina. 2013. City Walking and Narratives of Destiny. Anthropoetics 18 (2).
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Article in journal
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In this essay, I will look at two narratives by former Soviet writers, written about New York and London and thematizing walks through the two cities. The first is a novel by Edward Limonov, written in 1976, and the second is a short story by Zinovy Zinik, written in 1994. Both writers belong to the immigrant generation of the so-called Third Wave, which spanned the period between the seventies and eighties. This group of immigrants contained a relatively large percentage of professional and amateur writers and journalists who could not realize their talents in the Soviet Union and were induced or sometimes forced to leave. Many of these people opened newspapers, journals, and publishing houses. Others became active literary contributors. This became a vibrant and dynamic period of unprecedented literary activity. In retrospect, its literary output was probably more important for Russian literary history than the corresponding production of metropolitan literature in the same years. Those whose work was censored under the Soviet regime became published authors for the first time, among them the two authors I will present. Not only did they become known among fellow immigrants, but their books were smuggled back to the Soviet Union, where they achieved an underground cult status. They could not have dreamed of greater influence and popularity. Since the breakdown of the former Soviet Union, the vibrant émigré literary scene has all but ended its existence. As Zinovy Zinik expressed this, the metropolitan literature has reasserted itself and has since engulfed the periphery. But in the period between early 1970s and late 1990s, Third Wave writers enjoyed fame among their former compatriots and occupied a position of literary centrality, with Paris, Berlin, London, and especially New York acting as surrogates for the Russian literary centers of Moscow and Leningrad. (Abstract provided by the author)