A perceptive literary critic, a world-famous writer of witty and playful verses for children, a leading authority on children’s linguistic creativity, and a highly skilled translator, Kornei Chukovsky was a complete man of letters. As benefactor to many writers including Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky, he stood for several decades at the center of the Russian literary milieu. It is no exaggeration to claim that Chukovsky knew everyone involved in shaping the course of twentieth-century Russian literature. His voluminous diary, here translated into English for the first time, begins in prerevolutionary Russia and spans nearly the entire Soviet era. It is the candid commentary of a brilliant observer who documents fifty years of Soviet literary activity and the personal predicament of the writer under a totalitarian regime.
From descriptions of friendship with such major literary figures as Anna Akhmatova and Isaac Babel to accounts of the struggle with obtuse and hostile censorship, from the heartbreaking story of the death of the daughter who had inspired so many stories to candid political statements, the extraordinary diary of Kornei Chukovsky is a unique account of the twentieth-century Russian experience.
~Carol J. Avins
“Kornei Chukovsky’s diary opens a window into the world of the Russian intelligentsia over a long and tumultuous period. We are drawn into the story of a young provincial trying to make a literary career; we are treated to close-ups of prominent political and cultural figures; we hear the everyday voices of virtually every notable writer and critic among Chukovsky’s contemporaries.”—Carol J. Avins, Rutgers University
- selected as a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2007
- winner of the 2006 American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages Book Prize for Best Translation into English