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Russian Literature  
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Of the gay writers who stayed in Russia, Kuzmin and Parnok could no longer publish their work after the late 1920s. Esenin was driven to suicide in 1925, and Kliuev was sent to a gulag camp, where he died.

Stalin's criminalization of male homosexuality in 1933 led to the worst stigmatization and persecution of homosexuals in Russia's history. The mass arrests in 1934 and periodic crackdowns since that time led to the virtual invisibility of gay men and lesbians in Russian life and literature for the next four decades.

Only in the 1970s did there appear underground gay writers, such as the poet Gennady Trifonov (b. 1945), who served a hard labor sentence from 1976 to 1980 for privately circulating gay poetry in manuscript; and the fiction writer Yevgeny Kharitonov, who died at the age of forty in 1981, but was published to great acclaim in 1993.

Glasnost and Homosexuality

With the coming of glasnost, gay figures of the past, such as Leontiev and Kuzmin, have been reprinted; a number of gay periodicals have appeared; and foreign gay novels by Marcel Proust and James Baldwin have been translated. Despite the present chaotic conditions in Russia, the decriminalization of homosexuality by Boris Yeltsin's government suggests that the future of Russian gay literature might well turn out to be promising.

Simon Karlinsky

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social sciences >> Overview:  Moscow

The confusion of queer identities and possibilities presented by Moscow owes much to its rapid growth and village origins of its inhabitants.

social sciences >> Overview:  Russia

A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.

social sciences >> Overview:  St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Russa was once the crucible of one of history's liveliest and most articulate homosexual cultures.

literature >> Baldwin, James Arthur

James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.

arts >> Diaghilev, Sergei

For Russian nobleman Sergei Diaghilev, who revolutionized music, the visual arts, theater, and dance, homosexuality may have been integral to his creativity.

arts >> Duncan, Isadora

The mother of modern dance, Isadora Duncan brought her feminist consciousness to the stage; and in her bohemian private life, she constantly challenged society's rules.

arts >> Gloeden, Wilhelm von, Baron

One of the earliest gay photographers of the male nude, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden created images that evoke a dreamy vision of forbidden desire, while also raising questions about sexual tourism and kitsch.

literature >> Gogol, Nikolai

Nikolai Gogol's repressed homosexuality is reflected obliquely in nearly all of his works, especially in the fear of marriage that permeates his stories and plays.

literature >> Kuzmin, Mikhail Alekseyevich

The Russian writer and translator Mikhail Kuzmin wrote poems and novels that present sympathetic, often idealistic, portrayals of gay love and desire.

literature >> Parnok, Sophia

The creativity of Russian poet Sophia Parnok was closely linked to her lesbianism.

literature >> Proust, Marcel

Marcel Proust is the author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the major achievements of Modernism and a great gay novel.

arts >> Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilich

One of the greatest composers in the history of music, Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky inspired a cult of gay admirers who detected in his work themes of forbidden love.

literature >> Tsvetaeva, Marina Ivanovna

A lesbian theme runs throughout the works of Marina Tsvetaeva, widely considered one of the four greatest twentieth-century Russian poets.


Burgin, Diana Lewis. "Laid Out in Lavender: Perception of Lesbian Love in Russian Literature and Criticism of the Silver Age, 1893-1917." Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture. Jane T. Costlow, Stephanie Sandler, and Judith Vowles, eds. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993: 177-203.

G. R. "Protsessy gomoseksualistov" [Legal proceedings against homosexuals]. Ezhenedel'nik sovetskoi iustitsii [Soviet Justice Weekly] 33 (1922): 16-17.

Herberstein, Sigismund von. Description of Moscow and Muscovy. Bertold Picard, ed. J. B. C. Grundy, trans. London: Dent, 1966.

Hopkins, William. "Lermontov's Hussar Poems." Russian Literature Triquarterly 14 (1976): 36-47.

Karlinsky, Simon. Marina Tsvetaeva. The Woman, Her World and Her Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

_____. "Russia's Gay Literature and Culture: The Impact of the October Revolution." Hidden from History. Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. Martin Bauml Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr., eds. New York: New American Library, 1989: 348-364.

_____. "Russia's Gay History and Literature. (11th-20th Centuries)." Gay Sunshine 29-30 (1976): 1-7. Reprinted in Gay Roots. Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine. Winston Leyland, ed. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1991: 81-104.

_____. The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976. Paperback reissue, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Kozlovskii, Vladimir. Argo russkoi gomoseksual'noi subku'tury [The Slang of Russian Homosexual Subculture]. Benson, Vt.: Chalidze Publications, 1986.

Levin, Eve. Sex and Society in the World of Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Moss, Kevin, ed. Out of the Blue: Russia's Hidden Gay Literature: An Anthology. San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1997.

Olearius, Adam. The Travels of Olearius in Seventeenth-Century Russia. Samuel Baron, ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967.

Poznansky, Alexander. Tchaikovsky. The Quest for the Inner Man. Boston: Schirmer, 1991.

Rayfield, Donald. The Dream of Lhasa: The Life of Nikolai Przhevalsky, Explorer of Central Asia. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976.

Rozanov, Vasilii. Liudi lunnogo sveta [People of lunar light]. 2d ed. St. Petersburg: Ivan Mitiurnikov, 1913.

Turberville, George. "To Dancie." Rude and Barbarous Kingdom. Lloyd E. Berry and Robert O. Crummey, eds. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968.

Zen'kovskii, Sergei. "Drug Samozvantsa, eretik i stikhotvorets. Kniaz' Ivan Khvorostinin" [The Pretender's friend, heretic and poet. Prince Ivan Khvorostinin]. Opyty 6 (1956): 77-88.

Zlobin, Vladimir. A Difficult Soul. Zinaida Gippius. Simon Karlinsky, ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.


    Citation Information
    Author: Karlinsky, Simon  
    Entry Title: Russian Literature  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated March 2, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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