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Is that you, Venichka? – Gazeta Kommersant № 77 (7278) dated 30.04.2022

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The New Literary Review Publishing House has published two books dedicated to Venedikt Erofeev, the author of one of the main Russian texts of the twentieth century, Moscow-Cockerels. Tells Alexey Mokrousov.

The series “Non-canonical classic” as part of the “Scientific Library” of the publishing house “New Literary Review” publishes books about key authors of new Russian literature. To the volumes on DA Prigov, Vladimir Sorokin, Vladimir Sharov, and the Lianozov School, two more were added, devoted to Benedict Erofeev (1938–1990). University of London professor Svetlana Schnittmann-Macmillin has republished a book about his main work, the poem “Moscow-Cockerels” – its now inaccessible first edition was approved by the writer himself. Oleg Lekmanov and Ilya Simanovsky compiled a collection of texts and materials about the life and work of Erofeev.

It is unlikely that in late Soviet literature there is a figure as cheerful, successful and at the same time tragic. After being expelled from the Moscow State University, gold medalist Erofeev worked as a loader at a grocery store in Kolomna, an assistant mason on the construction site of Moscow’s Cheremushki, and a fireman in Vladimir (where he also studied at the Pedagogical Institute. Other professions include a police officer on duty in Orekhovo-Zuyevo (he studied at the Pedagogical Institute for a year), a container receiver and a paramilitary guard in Moscow, a driller at geologists in Ukraine, a librarian in Bryansk, a collector of the Geophysical Party in Zapolyaryaya. manager of a cement warehouse on the construction of the Moscow-Beijing highway in Dzerzhinsk, Gorky region. He himself appreciated the work of “laboratory assistant of the parasitological expedition” in Yangir, Uzbekistan and “laboratory assistant of VNIIDiS to combat winged blood-sucking filth” in Tajikistan.

However, it is better to pay attention to Erofeev’s stories with a slight squint – he was still a lover. Too much has penetrated him from Vasily Vasilyevich Rozanov, a favorite author and character about whom Erofeev wrote an essay. Few texts came out of his pen, including theatrical ones, but for a long posthumous life in literature one would be enough – “Moscow-Petushkov”, the experience of a silent escape from Soviet reality.

There are several chapters in the book by Lekmanov and Simanovsky. In one – letters and documents, they can sometimes be conditional, and sometimes not autobiographical. Yes, here is an autobiography written when entering MSU – and here is a mistake on the verge of mystification. Erofeev writes that he was born at the Chupa station in the Karelo-Finnish SSR, although his birth certificate is a suburb of Kandalaksha. And so everywhere, especially in interviews and meetings with readers / listeners. This can be seen in the example of the first published transcript of the recording of the evening of March 30, 1980 in the apartment of the Moscow physicist Alexander Krivomazov. Erofeev says that in 1961 he was expelled from the Vladimir Pedagogical Institute with the wording “For the ideological, disciplinary and moral decay of students”, but in a recent order found by Eugene Stol, the rector lists all the sins of a recent honors student. , and most importantly – the moral image “does not meet the requirements of the charter of the university to the future teacher and educator of the younger generation.”

History loves to grimace – those who “corresponded” did not save the country from the inevitable, but the legacy of Erofeev himself can be studied as “oral folk art.” The greatness of the writer is not in the myth he composes about himself and in which his contemporaries willingly help him, but in the texts. The second part of the collection is devoted to their analysis, including articles about Rozanov’s presence in Erofeev’s prose; a lot of interesting things are contained in Macmillin’s book.

“Moscow-Cockerels” was created quickly, from January 19 to March 6, 1970. As Gregory of Pomerania wrote, the author lived, “feeling, perhaps, the social order of a generation that perished in drunkenness and gross sin.” If only his diaries had been preserved! If the novel “Dmitry Shostakovich” had not been lost: the manuscript was stolen on a train with two bottles, when the unlucky author fell asleep, attempts to restore it failed. Svetlana Schnitman-Macmillin reminds: this is not the Shostakovich that everyone thinks about at once, but a friend of the author, the receiver of the glass container Dimitri (although the name index in the book persistently calls Shostakovich Dmitry). Few believe that “Shostakovich” was actually written – in contrast to “Moscow-Petushkov”, which replaced the twentieth century Chichikov’s journey, as their author replaced Gogol’s fellow citizens.

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