by Vladislav Khodasevich
with an introduction by David Bethea
(Columbia University Press, 2019)
In this striking collection of memoirs, the poet Vladislav Khodasevich looks back on the lives of some of the giants of early 19th-century Russian literature, including Alexander Blok, Sergey Esenin, Fyodor Sologub, and Maxim Gorky. By turns scathing and poignant, these stories offer an intimate portrayal not just of their individual subjects, but of the era as a whole.
Winner, 2020 CHOICE, Outstanding Academic Title
Longlist, ReadRussia Prize, 2020
Featured in Harper’s Magazine (read an excerpt here)
Read my post on translating Necropolis on the CUP blog here.
Times Literary Supplement
Khodasevich’s crystalline, mordant prose is skilfully handled by Sarah Vitali, who has done justice to the text and supplemented it with a wealth of endnotes that illuminate its more allusive and evasive moments.
Completely captivating. . . . These portraits he wrote from 1924 to 1938 of the self-tortured and Soviet-tortured writers feel fresh and are somehow ever-entertaining.
Required reading for students of Russian literature, scholars of comparative literature and memoir writing, and anyone interested in learning about literature and literary life in Russia. . . Essential.
Necropolis initiates us into the inner circle of the seminal figures of Russian Symbolism with uncanny tenderness, equanimity, and brutality. The intensity of reading Vladislav Khodasevich’s memoir makes the mind stagger around the charnel ground of the Symbolist poets and writers.
ROBERT P. HUGHES,
University of California, Berkeley
An incisive set of memoirs of the leading lights of Russian Symbolism and its aftermath. This is a stylish, inventive translation of a key text.
In Necropolis, the émigré poet Vladislav Khodasevich looks back—now wistfully, now bitterly—on the major writers and movements of Russian culture in the pre- and immediate postrevolutionary years. In Sarah Vitali’s splendid translation, this masterpiece of memoir literature is finally accessible to the Anglophone reader.