The Prose of Anatolii Mariengof

  • Gordon McVay


Few scholars in the Soviet Union or the West have devoted serious critical attention to the works of Anatolii Borisovich Mariengof (1897–1962). During the heyday of his notoriety, from 1919 to 1927, Mariengof revelled in literary-bohemian ‘scandals’ as a founding father of Russian Imaginism. Under the group’s own imprint, ‘Imazhinisty’, he issued controversial verse, drama and theory, baiting the Moscow public and outraging a gamut of aesthetic sensibilities (from aristocratic to proletarian) by a show of cynicism and amoralism.


Present Writer Negative Character Aesthetic Sensibility Fictional Narrator Virtual Murderer 
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  1. 2.
    See A. Lunacharskii, ‘Pis’mo v redaktsiiu’, Izvestiia, 14 April 1921, p. 2. See also Gordon McVay, Esenin: A Life (Ann Arbor, Ardis and London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1976), pp. 150–52, and passim on Mariengof.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    D. Furmanov, Iz dnevnika pisatelia (Moscow, 1934), p. 71.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    I. A. Bunin, Vospominaniia (Paris, Vozrozhdenie, 1950), p. 16.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See, for instance, V. Friche, ‘Literaturnoe odichanie’, Vechernie Izvestiia (Moscow), 15 February 1919, p. 1; V. Iretskii, ‘Plavil’nia slov’, Vestnik literatury (Petersburg), IX (1920), 9–10;Google Scholar
  5. A. Evgen’ev, ‘Perly i adamanty imazhinizma’, Vestnik literatury, X (1921), 6–7 (Tor Mariengof the revolution is a mincing-machine … What is this? Cannibalism or psychosis? Evidently, the latter …’.); L’vov-Rogachevskii, Imazhinizm i ego obrazonostsy: Esenin, Kusikov, Mariengof, Shershenevich (‘Ordnas’, 1921), especially pp. 33–45, the section entitled ‘Miasorubka’.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Riurik Ivnev, Chetyre vystrela v Esenina, Kusikova, Mariengofa, Shershenevicha (Moscow, 1921), pp. 18–21.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    See Riurik Ivnev, U podnozhiia Mtatsmindy (Moscow, 1973), p. 82.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    See Anatolii Mariengof, Roman bez vran’ia, first edition (Leningrad, ‘Priboi’, 1927), 155 pp., 10000 copies; second edition (Leningrad, ‘Priboi’, 1928), 157 pp., 7000 copies; third edition (Berlin, ‘Petropolis’, 1929), 158 pp. The second and third editions, which are identical, slightly amend and correct the first edition (for instance, providing accurate chapter numbers, a different death for N. L. Shvarts, and a kinder portrayal of A. M. Kozhebatkin). There may also have been a third ‘Priboi’ edition (Leningrad, 1929) — see note 19 below. Quotations in the main text are from the first edition, indicated as RBV.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    See Anatolii Mariengof, Buian-ostrov (Moscow, 1920), pp. 11–12.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    See Anatolii Mariengof, Roman bez vran’ia (reprint, Oxford, 1979), pp. xvii–xviii, lxiv.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    See Anatolii Mariengof, Novyi Mariengof (Moscow, 1926), 2000 copies. The book is called Stikhi i poemy 1922–1926 on the title-page.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Anatolii Mariengof, Tsiniki: Roman (Berlin, ‘Petropolis’, 1928), 160 pp. It is not clear which edition of Tsiniki was published by October 1928 — the Russian (by ‘Petropolis’), or the German (by Fischer).Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    See Iu. N. Tynianov, Poetika: Istoriia literatury: Kino (Moscow, 1977), p. 467.Google Scholar
  14. 30.
    Anatolii Mariengof, Buian-ostrov (Moscow, 1920), p. 9. Compare Oscar Wilde, in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891): There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.’.Google Scholar
  15. 36.
    See Gordon McVay, ‘The Tree-stump and the Horse: The Poetry of Alexander Kusikov’, Oxford Slavonic Papers, XI (1978), 129.Google Scholar
  16. 40.
    See V. I. Kachalov, ‘Vstrechi s Eseninym’, Krasnaia niva, II (1928), 19.Google Scholar
  17. 53.
    Entry on Mariengof in Victor Terras (ed.), Handbook of Russian Literature (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1985), p. 274.Google Scholar

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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London 1990

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  • Gordon McVay

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