Mariengof, Anatoly Borisovich 1897-1962

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MARIENGOF, Anatoly Borisovich 1897-1962

PERSONAL:

Born 1897, in Nizhny Novgorod (now Gorky), Russia; died 1962, in Leningrad, USSR.

CAREER:

Poet, playwright, and author of criticism. Central Executive Committee publishing house, Moscow, Russia, member of staff, beginning 1918.

WRITINGS:

Magdalina, 1919.

Konditerskaya solnts (title means "Pastry Shop of the Suns"), 1919.

Bunyan-Ostrov (poetry; title means "Bunyan-Island"), 1920.

Stikhami chvanstvuyu (poetry; title means "I Show off My Poetry"), 1920.

Tuchelet (poetry; title means "Cloud Flight"), 1921.

Roman bez vran'ya (autobiography), 1927, [New York, NY], 1978, translated by José Alaniz as A Novel without Lies, Glas Publishers (Birmingham, England), 2000.

Tsiniki (novel; title means "Cynics"), 1928.

Brityi chelovek (title means "Shaven Man"), 1929.

Works translated and published in anthologies, including Modern Russian Poetry, edited by V. Markov and M. Sparks, 1967. Contributor to journals and almanacs. Editor of Gostinitsa dlya puteshestvuyushchikh v prekrasnom.

PLAYS

Zagovor durakov (title means "The Conspiracy of Fools"), 1922.

Dvunogie (title means "The Bipeds"), 1925.

Taras Bulba, 1940.

Malen'kie komedii (title means "Little Comedies"), 1957.

Rozhdenie poeta (title means "Birth of the Poet"), 1959.

SIDELIGHTS:

Poet, playwright, and memoirist Anatoly Borisovich Mariengof was a member of the Russian Imagist school. A close friend of fellow poet and aesthete Sergei Esenin during the early part of the twentieth century led Mariengof into a bohemian lifestyle and renown as one of the foremost practitioners of imagist poetics. Known for the 1920 poetry collection Buyan-ostrov as well as for plays, novels, and the autobiography Roman bez vrea'ya, which details the author's life as a dandy, Mariengof also worked as a journalist and ended his career as a playwright in Leningrad. Describing the Russian writer as "a minor poet and dramatist, and an intriguing novelist with a style strongly influenced by early cinema," Times Literary Supplement contributor Lesley Chamberlain added of Mariengof that "His greatest achievement was to record in a prose saturated with memorable images (and free from ideological concerns) what it was like to be alive in the Soviet 1920s."

Banned when it was first published in 1927, Roman bez vran'ya was later translated into English as A Novel without Lies, and was described by Library Journal contributor Scott Hightower as "a loose collection of impressions of Mariengof's flamboyant friendship" with Esenin within the world of the "post-revolutionary Russian avant-garde."

Noting that as a poet Mariengof's "typical features are heteroaccentual rhyme and unusually long and intricate stanzas," a contributor to the Handbook of Russian Literature maintained that the poet focused on such themes as the Russian revolution, love, sex, urban society, and violence. Leaving poetry behind in 1928, the thirty-one-year-old writer moved to Leningrad, where he wrote for the Soviet cinema and authored such stage plays as Taras Bulba and Rozhdenie poeta prior to his death in 1962 at age sixty-five.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Terras, Victor, editor, Handbook of Russian Literature, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1985, p. 274.

PERIODICALS

Library Journal, November 15, 2000, Scott Hightower, review of A Novel without Lies, p. 68.

London Review of Books, March 7, 2002, Tony Wood, "I'm with the Imagists," p. 19.

Times Literary Supplement, August 2, 2002, Lesley Chamberlain, "The Hooligan Years," p. 21.*