A Novel Without Lies, Issue 23

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Glas, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 179 pages
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This is the story of an extraordinary friendship and an extraordinary poet seen through the prism of an extraordinary time and place--the upside-down world of Moscow just after the Revolution. By the time Sergei Esenin (1895-1925) met Mariengof in 1918, his lyrical verse had made him a national celebrity. The cultivated Mariengof found the peasant-born Esenin provincial at first. But soon the two would be sitting up at night hammering out their Imagist manifesto. Mariengof traces Esenin's career in Bohemian Moscow as well as in Europe where the poet travelled with his exotic and much older wife, the American dancer Isadora Duncan. A self-described genius, Esenin was devastated by his non-reception in the West where no one knew him (or read poetry). His response was to ignore the West, moving through it like a blind man. When Esenin divorced Duncan and returned to Moscow, he was a changed man: crushed by the West, disillusioned by Soviet Russia. As well as increasingly unstable and alcoholic. Soon after parting company with the Imagists, he hung himself, having written a last poem in his own blood.

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Certainly not a novel, nor a memoir in the traditional sense, this book by Russian poet Mariengof was banned when it was first published in Soviet Russia in 1927. (It was reprinted only in 1988.) It ... Read full review


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About the author (2000)

Anatoly Mariengof (1897-1962) is the author of Cynics (see Glas One), set in Moscow during the years of War Communism and Lenin’s New Economic Policy. A time – despite the hunger, cold, and communist terror – of youthful passions and great hope. Writes Mariengof: “It was an interesting age, young, spirited, eventful and philosophical.”
Novel Without Lies is a story of "the last poet of wooden Russia" Sergey Esenin (1895–1925), a leader of Russian imagism, one of the dominant artistic trends of the 1920s that was notorious for its romantic amoralism and aesthetic provocation. Mariengof and Esenin stayed inseparable until 1922 when Mariengof married the actress Anna Nikritina and Esenin married Isadora Duncan. Mariengof paints an unvarnished portrait of his old friend. First published in 1927, the book was soon banned as an insult to the “people’s poet”. It was reprinted only in 1988.

"Esenin was a living, vibrant hub of that artistic energy which, to quote Pushkin, we call the highest manifestation of Mozartian talent and Mozartian element."--Boris Pasternak.

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