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Pavel Basinsky – about how the evening in memory of the critic and philologist Vladimir Lakshin went – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Date: February 25, 2024 Time: 12:25:25

Born in Moscow, born in Moscow and died in Moscow. His ashes rest in the Novodevichy cemetery. Above the tomb is a modest stone obelisk with an eight-pointed Orthodox cross.

It so happened that this year we celebrated several memorable dates associated with Vladimir Lakshin. This is both the 90th anniversary of his birth and the 30th anniversary of his death… 60 years ago his first book, “Tolstoy and Chekhov”, was published, which became an event of the Russian philology. And then in 1963 he wrote his article “Ivan Denisovich, his friends and enemies”, which was published in the January book of “New World” 1964 and became one of the most important and notable critical articles of the years 60.

This year we celebrate several memorable dates associated with Vladimir Lakshin

Of course, all these anniversaries mean nothing. But they are necessary to remember a person who made an enormous contribution to the critical process of the 60s, to Russian philology as a researcher of Alexander Ostrovsky, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov and to the history of Russian journalism as a comrade in arms of Alexander Tvardovsky in the “New World” and as editor of “Foreign Literature.”

I was surprised: they were the same age as Andrei Voznesensky. Lakshin was born on May 6, 1933, and Voznesensky on May 12. I was surprised because the poet Voznesensky of the 60s very easily seems to me to be a young and conceited rebel, but the critic and philologist Lakshin does not fit this idea. He came to literature as an absolutely mature person with an established mind, character and type of behavior.

Here is his article “Ivan Denisovich, his friends and enemies.” It seems that in 1963 it was written not by a thirty-year-old “New World” employee, but by an experienced magazine strategist who understood what was really behind the publication of this Solzhenitsyn story and who was behind the “enemies” of him . In reality, that’s how it was: not only Tvardovsky, but also his closest collaborators at the magazine participated very directly in the publication of this and knew perfectly well how difficult it was to print it, how much editorial policy was invested in it, how Tvardovsky had to convince his superiors that history is Soviet, in the spirit of the latest decisions of the CPSU.

Vladimir Lakshin and Igor Vinogradov, the two main critics of the “New World” “title”, were of course not only critics, but also strategists who knew how a work could be used for a broader conversation and even indirectly influence those . those who were there, “at the top”, make decisions: how the country should continue to develop, how much freedom it can allow and how much it cannot allow.

To my literary generation, which was already entering life in the 90s, this seems strange, even a little funny. We already know with certainty that nothing in the life of the country is literature, much less criticism! – can’t be changed.

But then I looked at this old article and suddenly saw how much relevance it had. After all, of course, Solzhenitsyn’s story “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” at that time gained popularity primarily due to its “theme.” And Lakshin writes: “The point here is not the subject, but the talent, that is, the author’s sense of truth and the ability to convey this truth to us.” But it is precisely thanks to this that this masterpiece of Solzhenitsyn has survived to this day. And yet this is the identity of talent and truth. Talent is where the truth is.

I suddenly realized that in this article Lakshin divides criticism into normative and analytical. “In summary, the normative approach consists in the fact that the critic, even before knowing the work that he is going to judge, has already prepared concepts about everything that concerns that work.”

Sir, this is in line with current “criticism,” when any work by a writer is not judged by its text, but by the “context” in which that writer resides. Your circle, not yours. His own party, not yours.

Of course, in the 60s there was this division between “us” and “strangers.” But there were also analytical criticisms, a striking example of which were the articles of Vladimir Lakshin and Igor Vinogradov. And then – Igor Zolotussky, Lev Anninsky, Alla Latynina, Sergei Chuprinin, Vadim Kozhinov, Evgeny Sidorov…

There will probably never be another lover of Russian literature of such caliber.

Lakshin’s articles in Novy Mir were read to death. As Natalia Ivanova accurately noted: “Lakshin was not a dissident, but there was not a single dissident who had not read Lakshin.”

And of course, he was a philologist to the core. It seems that even in his appearance there was something philological. Starting with his first book “Tolstoy and Chekhov” and ending with the amazing book “Interviews and conversations with Leo Tolstoy” (1985), where he first showed us the hermit Yasnaya Polyana through the eyes of newspapers. He did a lot for Russian literary studies and literary illustration!

His articles and books on Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, AN Ostrovsky, Mikhail Bulgakov were the most notable events of our cultural life. And here Lakshin no longer acted as a strategist, but as a gentleman of Russian literature, who, I think, although he did not know him personally, had clear ideas about the most important component of human life.

One way or another, the figure of Lakshin as a tireless critic, philologist and educator (remember his amazing television programs on Russian classics) today seems enormous and unique. There will probably never be another lover of Russian literature of this magnitude…

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Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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