Literary almanac Metropol

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In 1979 the writers Vasily Aksjonow , Andrei Bitow , Fasil Iskander , Viktor Erofejew and Yevgeny Popow compiled a literature almanac in which they wanted to combine texts by recognized writers with those by still relatively unknown authors from the underground . The almanac was intended to provide information on developments in the literature of the metropolis of Moscow - hence the name.

In addition to their literary talent, what the more than twenty authors had in common was that none of them sympathized with Soviet power. The lyrics were mixed in terms of genre and style. Among other things, a larger selection of lyrics by the famous singer Vladimir Semjonowitsch Vysotsky was to be published here for the first time .

What was planned as a literary venture turned into one of the great scandals in Russian literary history . The almanac was first to be self-published ( samizdat ) in twelve copies compiled and glued by the authors themselves and then passed on to the agency for authors' rights (WAAP) and the state publisher Goskomisdat . They also wanted to present it on January 21, 1979 as part of a vernissage in a café . On that day, the block around the café was cordoned off and the bar itself - allegedly because of cockroaches discovered there - closed.

But on the day before the vernissage, a month-long campaign began with a board meeting of the Writers' Association in which the editors were systematically denounced and insulted by their fellow writers who were loyal to the system. Their literature has been referred to as "pornography of the mind", the almanac as political provocation. One saw in Aksjonow, who was already the most established literary of all at the time, the CIA -controlled mastermind behind the action.

Since they refused to renounce the almanac and publicly repent despite repeated requests and summons, Erofejew and Popov were finally excluded from the writers' association, which at that time meant "literary death". Erofeev's father lost his job as a high diplomat in Vienna . In Yerofeyev's opinion, things could have ended much worse for them - namely in the penal camp - had they not had the public support of Soviet and American colleagues: the Americans Kurt Vonnegut , William Styron , John Updike , Arthur Miller and Edward Albee sat down in one A telegram published in the New York Times on August 12, 1979 for the Metropol editors; in the Soviet Union Vasily Aksjonow, Andrei Bitow, Fasil Iskander, Inna Lisnyanskaya , Semyon Lipkin and Bella Akhmadulina , all of whom had also contributed to the Almanac, wrote letters of protest . Aksjonow, Lisnjanskaja and Lipkin resigned from the writers' association out of solidarity, Aksjonow went to the USA at the invitation of a university there, and his Soviet citizenship was revoked. The others followed Popov's and Erofeyev's request not to resign.

The almanac was soon published in Russian by the American publisher Ardis and was then published in translation in the USA and France .

Today the Almanac Metropol is a monument to Russian literary history not only because of its history, but also because of the texts. A few years ago Viktor Erofejew re- edited it in a number of anthologies on Russian literature.

Metropol turned out to be an X-ray machine that scanned all of society. We saw power up close: it no longer raced forwards as it once did on its ideological Buldozzer, it barely crawled - decrepit, degenerate, decaying - but at the same time ready to destroy all living things so that it does not prevent them from finishing in peace rotten.
And yet the whole epic of the Almanac showed that it was possible to oppose this power, and that it was necessary. More than that, it became clear how to oppose it.
(Viktor Erofejew in the preface to the 1991 edition )

Processing in the literature

Viktor Erofeev tells the story of the publication in great detail in his novel "The Good Stalin".

Individual evidence

  1. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2004, p. 316 ff