This is a biography of the poet Nikolay Zabolotsky, written by his son, illustrated with examples of his work and telling in detail the story of his arrest during Stalin's terror, eight years of prison and exile, and stubborn survival. Since his death, Nikolay Zabolotsky has come to be recognized as a writer of international importance, on a par with Pasternak of Mandelshtam: but compared with them he has been little studied or translated, and until recently aspects of both his life and his work remained mysterious. During the experimental period of Russian art in the 1920s he was a member of the Oberiu movement which this biography documents. In 1938, though uninterested in politics, he was arrested and remained in prison and exile until 1946, after which (with much difficulty) he resumed writing. The whole episode is not only a moving and exemplary human story, but also a notable case study in the effects of Stalin's terror. It makes use of the testimony of family and friends, as well as of material from KGB archives, only recently made available. It also constitutes an introduction to a Zabolotsky's body of poetry. The book contains, as appendices, Zabolotsky's own "The Story of My Imprisonment" and the hitherto secret text of the writer Lesyuchevsky's denunciation of Zabolotsky to the secret police. There is also an anthology of Zabolotsky poems in English translation by Daniel Weissbort and Robin Milner-Gulland and biographical notes on a host of literary figures from the 1920s onwards. The volume is illustrated with a number of early photographs.
Robin Milner-Gulland is Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Sussex. He is a prolific author and editor of works on Russian literature and the arts, and also an established translator of twentieth-century Russian poetry. Nikita Zabolotsky is the son of poet Nikolay Zabolotsky. He was a professional biologist until devoting himself to his father's life and work. C. G. Bearne is a translator.