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Daniel, Yuli Markovich


(19251988), translator, author, show-trial defendant.

A native of Moscow, Yuli Daniel fought in World War II, then studied at the Moscow Regional Teachers' Institute. He began his literary career as a translator of poetry.

During the cultural Thaw that followed Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech in 1956, Daniel began to write short stories of his own. These include "This Is Moscow Speaking" (1962), "Hands" (1963), and "The Man from MINAP" (1963). Daniel's stories were satirical and absurdist. For example, the protagonist of "The Man from MINAP" is able to choose the sex of any baby he fathers. To create a boy, he thinks about Karl Marx at the point of conception; for a girl, he fantasizes about Klara Zetkin. In "This Is Moscow Speaking," a summer day in 1960 is designated "National Murder Day," an obviousand boldreference to Stalinist terror.

Even under Khrushchev, Daniel published not in the USSR, but in the West, under the pseudonym Nikolai Arzhak. Nonetheless, for the time being, Daniel remained safe from actual persecution. However, the ouster of Khrushchev in 1964 and the rise of Leonid Brezhnev brought about a deep cultural retrenchment. Daniel was among the first of its victims.

In 1965 Daniel was arrested, with fellow author Andrei Sinyavsky (who used the nom de plume Abram Tertz). Both were put on trial in February 1966, accused by the prosecution of "pouring mud on whatever is most holy and most pure." The authors were permitted to speak in their own defense, but the trial was conducted in Stalinist style, with its outcome determined in advance. Sinyavsky was sentenced to seven years of hard labor, Daniel to five years. The Sinyavsky-Daniel trial served as the regime's clear sign to the Soviet intelligentsia that Khrushchev's liberalism was at an end.

After serving his sentence, Daniel was forbidden to return to Moscow. He settled in Kaluga for a number of years, before finally being allowed to move back to the capital.

See also: dissident movement; sinyavsky-daniel trial


Brown, Edward J. (1982). Russian Literature Since the Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Terras, Victor. (1994). A History of Russian Literature. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

John McCannon

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