They talk about dissent and don’t know what to say … The Daniel-Sinjavsky case

The timing, for the most part, is right. Given the hysteria of war, anti-Soviet dissent is back in vogue, so to speak. Publishers have uncovered ancient horror stories related to a heroic era. For example, Ponte alle Grazie recently published a novel by Giovanni Greco. Sunburn, starring Nadezhda Mandel’štam, the wife of Osip, an icon of the struggle against the Stalinist regime; last year Feltrinelli printed a book, The unnamed writer. Moscow 1966: Judgments of Literature, in which Ezio Mauro goes through the fateful trial of Andrei Sinjavskij and Julij Daniel ‘with fictional skills. All beautiful. The editorial paradox, rather, surprises me, smells of ethical intimidation: of Nadežda Mandel’štam and the Sinjavskij-Daniel ‘case are published exegesis, comments, reports, stories; no one dares to repeat the sources. However, while adorning the writer with Greek laurels, it would be good to recover Nadežda Mandel’štam’s autobiographical writings. The time and the wolves I My memories (printed in 1971 and 72 by Mondadori and Garzanti; among other things, with a remarkable narrative passage, a shady polemical symphony, a requiem for the repeated massacre); should be reprinted White Paper on the Daniel ‘Sinjavskij Case, built by Aleksandr Ghinsburg, cardinal text of Russian dissent, published by Jaca Book, with the authority of a political gesture, in 1967. Instead: we prefer to interpret, mediate, simplify, reduce the irreducibility of the struggle in the news, perhaps updating, exhausting, scattering honey over the wounds inflicted; things, in fact, of pleasure editorial, port, sedan chair, in tow of the times, unable to dare.

Basically, there is a tendency to anesthetize dissent, to dispel it, to historicize it, to rework it, into a vague presumption of moral legality. Ignavia aesthetic, in short, prudent anesthetic arrogance … He White Paper on the Daniel ‘Sinjavskij Caseinstead, the bible of dissent should be published as it is, with that caustic chaos of documents, because it demonstrates the spasmodic acceleration of the regime in the control of literature, of the poet. Stalin, who wanted to forge a generation of soul engineers, sent dissident scholars to the labor camps; Khrushchev and Brezhnev marginalized them, tested them, reduced them to social pariahs. Thus, in 1961, the Soviet secret services were hijacked Life and destiny, the novel by Vasily Grossman; in 1964 the twenty-year-old poet Joseph Brodsky was tried for “social parasitism” and forced to work socially; “February 10 at 10 am” is in 1966, in a small courtroom in Moscow, Daniel and Sinjavsky are on trial, guilty of publishing anti-Soviet books abroad under a pseudonym ( for those who: Boris Pasternak was born on February 10, his death in 1960 opens the era of a system of widespread, subtle and widespread control of Soviet literature). For the first time, a lawsuit is being filed against authors of books, writers who have dared to respond creatively to the regime’s fateful dictates. Sinjavsky, known abroad as Abram Terts, did not forget his own gloomy cynicism in front of his accusers:

Western democracy is based on ‘freedom of the person’, ‘freedom of competition’, and so on. In the West they say: freedom of choice. I make fun of these things. The Lord God is not a parliament. For a believer, the problem of freedom does not exist. For the teleological man there is no freedom of choice. In this sense, I’m talking about Soviet writers, they have no problem choosing. Either you believe, or if you don’t believe (measure the dock with your own eyes), go to jail. ”

In 1965, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Mikhail Šolochov, “the greatest representative of the literature of socialist realism” (Cesare G. De Michelis), author of The placid Don, once idolized, now reddened in oblivion, formerly a member of the Supreme Soviet: he loved to attack Daniel ‘and Sinjavskij. During the 23rd Congress of the Communist Party (what a restless feeling of tranquility this agitating acronyms and numbers, with sinuous recurrence) Šolochov gave a sample of Homeric oratory:

“We, the Soviet writers, determine the place of the writer in the life of society as communists, as children of our great homeland, as citizens of the country working to build communist society, as interpreters of the humanist-revolutionary ideas of the party, of the people and of the Soviet man … I am proud to be the son of a powerful and beautiful homeland, he created us, he gave us everything, without measure. with the name of Mother … I think everyone understands it, there is nothing more sacrilegious and disgusting than insulting my mother, insulting her vulgarly, raising my hand against her! what we love most ”.

The courtly writer was overwhelmed by a great stream of applause, ignoring the abyss that surrounded him. He thought he was right, justice was an executioner disguised as a baby. In a letter to the Soviet Writers’ Union and to “Pravda,” Lydia Chukovskaya, a friend of Anna Achmatova, the guardian of her memory, reminded the almighty Šolochov of the specific meaning of Russian literature:

“The books created by the great Russian writers have taught and will teach humanity to penetrate the complex motives of human error, crime and sin, not in a concise way, but in a meticulous and subtle way … humanizing Russian literature “.

Chukovskaya – which also recognized the greatness of granite The placid Don – in the background, a puppet shouted at Šolochov, a stuffed writer, sunk in the ideological swamp, “you have spoken like an apostate of literature … history will not forget your infamous speech.”

The wastewater of times that had flowed into the air, in which literature controlled power, validated an identity, armed conspiracies. For the most part, today, teachers of boredom, we use literature as a resource, as a socially useful, improvised, chronicle gesture – see the sudden outbreak of the Ukrainian novel – forever gregarious. A student, a few days ago, told me that “the fight against the mafia” is embodied by Roberto Saviano, Leonardo Sciascia has never read; as they widened the banks of the Strega – we have gone from the mystical pentagon to the magnificent 7 – they managed to forget the only formally impeccable novel, Lieutenant Dumont’s telescopeby Marino Magliani, who does not look at Sunday mercantile delight or the sociology of support.

He White Paper on the Daniel ‘Sinjavskij Case is dedicated “to the luminous memory of Vigdorova Frida Abramovna”: who died in 1965, “took to heart the fate of Iosif Brodsky”; to her, among other things, we owe to the poet the shorthand recording of the trial. In short, it seems to stop in a kind of sacred cloister, in dissent like light and whisper, in a sequence that unites Mandel ‘štam a Brodskij, Anna Achmatova a Boris Pasternak a Andrei Sinjavskij – who dedicates one of his most persuasive and penetrating essays to Pasternak, printed by Rizzoli in 1966, so timely that it is now unattainable. It almost makes you tremble. In this tabernacle of extreme figures, Christina Campo stands as a celebrant, who considered Russian dissident poets to be posthumous saints, and Sinjavsky “the only living religious poet today.” During the defense, Sinjavsky himself raises a crucial issue:

“We can ask ourselves: what is propaganda and what is literature? The position of the prosecution is this: literature is a form of propaganda: propaganda can only be pro-Soviet or anti-Soviet; so if he is not Soviet, he is certainly anti-Soviet. I do not agree with these statements … I am deeply convinced that in the literary field one cannot judge with legal formulas. In fact, the truth of the artistic image is complex, often the author himself cannot explain it ”.

In today’s short circuit, even the dissent, made between hugs, in the chocolate of common opinions, shaved, of the talk, has evolved into propaganda.

Perhaps this is why Andrei Sinjavskij, once translated and published everywhere, has almost disappeared from Italian publishing territory: we can probably do without it. Also, no one has time to publish Julij Daniel’s memoirs and poems from prison. We have even forgotten about Šolochov: nevertheless, a novelist more fascinating and more powerful than too many contemporaries. Let’s give her a witch.



The day is bright outside the window
spring is drawn in blue by a child
I have no reason to wait
pity or hope: that is enough for me.

Evil is forgotten. Only yesterday
crucified our souls in a
crossroads of screams. So dear girls,
I look out the window at a mirror.

The gray wool of the snow has melted,
large drops hang like amulets.
In a few days you will be prettier
miraculous eyes, and a veil over his shoulders.

A few more days and you will forget the night
sifted by thunderous dreams; you will give up all
convention and the years will go by
taking your breath away.

(The wheels are withering and I’ll be in one
small station. I can smell the beauty
a thousand miles away: I smile at him
and I retire, between perforations of envy).

Spring haunts us
with his tender and brutal cries.
Dear girls, it’s time to break free
for the pain of shedding skins.

February 22, 1966

Julij Daniel ‘

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