The Language of a Private World

by
April 2003, no. 250

The Language of a Private World

by
April 2003, no. 250

To refashion the fashioned, lest it harden into iron, is work of an endless vital activity.’
                                                                                                                        - Goethe

The year 1937 was the centenary of the death of modern Russia’s first great poet, Alexander Pushkin. Celebration was mandatory in the USSR, and it wasn’t a good year to ignore the dictates of Stalin’s bureaucrats. So the Soviet satirist Mikhail Zoschenko takes us into a grim but determined apartment block in Moscow, past a slap-dash artistic rendering of the great poet wreathed in pine branches, into a room where the tenants are gathered and a slightly flustered youngish man is preparing to speak. There is a general doziness and smell of old onions.

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