Necropolis

Vladislav Khodasevich. Translated by Sarah Vitali.

Columbia University Press

Necropolis

Pub Date: May 2019

ISBN: 9780231187053

304 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $14.95£12.99

Pub Date: May 2019

ISBN: 9780231187046

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: May 2019

ISBN: 9780231546966

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $13.99£11.99

Necropolis

Vladislav Khodasevich. Translated by Sarah Vitali.

Columbia University Press

Necropolis is an unconventional literary memoir by Vladislav Khodasevich, hailed by Vladimir Nabokov as “the greatest Russian poet of our time.” In each of the book’s nine chapters, Khodasevich memorializes a significant figure of Russia’s literary Silver Age, and in the process writes an insightful obituary of the era.

Written at various times throughout the 1920s and 1930s following the deaths of its subjects, Necropolis is a literary graveyard in which an entire movement, Russian Symbolism, is buried. Recalling figures including Alexander Blok, Sergey Esenin, Fyodor Sologub, and the socialist realist Maxim Gorky, Khodasevich tells the story of how their lives and artworks intertwined, including a notoriously tempestuous love triangle among Nina Petrovskaya, Valery Bryusov, and Andrei Bely. He testifies to the seductive and often devastating power of the Symbolist attempt to turn one’s life into a work of art and, ultimately, how one man was left with the task of memorializing his fellow artists after their deaths. Khodasevich’s portraits deal with revolution, disillusionment, emigration, suicide, the vocation of the poet, and the place of the artist in society. One of the greatest memoirs in Russian literature, Necropolis is a compelling work from an overlooked writer whose gifts for observation and irony show the early twentieth-century Russian literary scene in a new and more intimate light.
Khodasevich’s crystalline, mordant prose is skilfully handled by Sarah Vitali, who has done justice to the text and supplemented it with a wealth of endnotes that illuminate its more allusive and evasive moments. The edition also benefits from a stylish introduction by David Bethea, which strikes perfectly a balance of engaging readability and in-depth critical insight. Bryan Karetnyk, Times Literary Supplement
Completely captivating. . . . These portraits he wrote from 1924 to 1938 of the self-tortured and Soviet-tortured writers feel fresh and are somehow ever-entertaining. Russian Life
Necropolis initiates us into the inner circle of the seminal figures of Russian Symbolism with uncanny tenderness, equanimity, and brutality. The intensity of reading Vladislav Khodasevich’s memoir makes the mind stagger around the charnel ground of the Symbolist poets and writers. Amy Hosig, poet
An incisive set of memoirs of the leading lights of Russian Symbolism and its aftermath. This is a stylish, inventive translation of a key text. Robert P. Hughes, University of California, Berkeley
In Necropolis, the émigré poet Vladislav Khodasevich looks back—now wistfully, now bitterly—on the major writers and movements of Russian culture in the pre- and immediate postrevolutionary years. In Sarah Vitali’s splendid translation, this masterpiece of memoir literature is finally accessible to the Anglophone reader. Michael Wachtel, Princeton University
Translator’s Acknowledgments
Introduction, by David Bethea
Foreword
1. The Death of Renate
2. Bryusov
3. Andrei Bely
4. Muni
5. Gumilyov and Blok
6. Gershenzon
7. Sologub
8. Esenin
9. Gorky
Translator’s Notes
Index of Names

About the Author

Vladislav Khodasevich (1886–1939) was a major figure in twentieth-century Russian poetry as well as an accomplished critic and translator. Born into a Polish Catholic noble family in Moscow, he spent his later life in Berlin and Paris.

Sarah Vitali is a translator and PhD candidate in Slavic languages and literatures at Harvard University.