Yevtushenko's reader

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E. P. Dutton, 1972 - Literary Criticism - 158 pages
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About the author (1972)

Yevtushenko was born in a small junction on the Trans-Siberian Railroad (the subject of his 1956 long poem Zima Junction). After Stalin's death in 1953, he emerged as an important poet and spokesman for the younger generation. In 1961 Yevtushenko published "Babi Yar," which deals with the notorious wartime massacre of Jews in a ravine near Kiev. The poem made Yevtushenko internationally famous, and because it raised the spectre of domestic anti-Semitism, aroused a storm of official opposition. He also created a furor with "Stalin's Heirs" (1962), which raised the spectre of resurgent Stalinism. Over the years, however, Yevtushenko became part of the Soviet establishment. He seriously damaged his early reputation as a defender of artistic freedom by easily yielding to coercion to write works following the official line. Yet at times he took quite liberal positions at odds with the powers that be. In the Gorbachev period, he became active in political life and has continued to advocate reform, fighting for change within the Writers' Union. Like Voznesensky, Yevtushenko traveled extensively abroad. His trips inspired many topical, sometimes autobiographical works well received by Western as well as Russian readers: Though exuberant in his verbal style, the poet is quite accessible. But overall, although sometimes quite effective, his writing lacks true depth.

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