Russian Beat

Wilderness of Mirrors

Authored by: Thomas Epstein

The Routledge Handbook of International Beat Literature

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415785457
eBook ISBN: 9781315210278
Adobe ISBN:


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Is it possible to write about Soviet-Russian Beatniks and Soviet-Russian Beat culture in a meaningful way? If we are talking about direct literary influence and/or imitation in anything approximating to “real time,” then the answer is decidedly no. As we will see below, a combination of censorship, repression, and the Soviet Zeitgeist of the early-to-late 1950s caused a definite lag in the appearance of the Beat generation in Soviet consciousness. Moreover, when it did appear, the channels through which Beat culture was first felt had only marginal relation to Beat values, whether literary or social. 1 The poet Andrei Voznesensky, who had the earliest fruitful contacts with the Beats, is perhaps also the best example of the limits of direct Beat–Soviet exchange. As for translation of the Beats, it did not take off until the 1990s.

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