Lunts, Lev Natanovich

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LUNTS, LEV NATANOVICH (1901–1924), Russian playwright and literary theorist. Lunts was born into a well-educated St. Petersburg family which immigrated to Germany after the 1917 Revolution. He himself, however, remained in Russia for a time, suffered from malnutrition, and died in Hamburg at the age of 23. Lunts was a founder and spokesman of the important young writers' group in Petrograd known as the Serapion Brothers and named after a hero in one of the novels of E.T.A. Hoffmann, the 18th-century German romantic. The group's aims were to free art from political pressures and to win tolerance for artistic dissent. In his articles Lunts argued that Russian literature was unduly tendentious and uniformly realistic, and recommended that it emulate Western models. His play Vne zakona ("Outside the Law," 1923) is set in Spain and its central theme is that power corrupts. It was translated into many languages and became part of the repertoire of several Western European theaters. The Soviet authorities saw in his plays criticism of the regime and forbade performing them in the Soviet theaters. Two of his stories, "V pustyne" ("In the Desert," 1922) and "Rodina" ("Homeland," 1923), deal with ancient Jewish historical events.


M. Slonim, Modern Russian Literature (1953), 294–6; G. Struve, Soviet Russian Literature1917–1950 (1951), 46–52, 61, 107.

[Yitzhak Maor]