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Reference Guide to Russian Literature

By Neil Cornwell; Nicole Christian | Go to book overview

D

Iulii Markovich Daniel' 1925-1988
Prose writer, poet, and literary translator

Biography

Born in Moscow, 15 November 1925. Served in the Soviet Army, 1943-44: severely wounded and discharged. Studied philology at Kharkov University and at Moscow District Pedagogical Institute, 1946-51. Married: Larisa Bogoraz in 1950. Teacher in Kaluga, 1951-54, and then in Moscow.His novella, Begstvo [ Flight], printed by Children's State Publishing House, 1958, but prohibited from sale. Worked as a translator into Russian of Yiddish, Slavonic, and Caucasian poetry from 1957. Simultaneously with "legitimate" work, began to publish "subversive" stories abroad under the pseudonym of Nikolai Arzhak, 1956-63. Arrested with Andrei Siniavskii, September 1965; tried for anti-Soviet activities (tamizdat writing), February 1966, and sentenced to five years' hard labour. Released in 1970. Lived first in Kaluga, then Moscow.Died 30 December 1988.


Publications

Collected Edition

Govorit Moskva: Proza, poeziia, perevody [ This is Moscow Speaking: Prose, Poetry, Translations]. Moscow, 1991.


Fiction

Govorit Moskva. Washington, DC, Inter-Language Literary Associates, 1962; translated as This is Moscow Speaking and Other Stories, by Stuart Hood, Harold Shukman, and John Richardson , London, Collins and Harvill Press, 1968; New York, Dutton, 1969.

Ruki i Chelovek iz MINAPa. Washington, DC, Inter-Language Literary Associates, 1963; translated as The Man from M.I.S.P. and Hands, by M. V. Nesterov, London, Flegon Press, 1966.

Iskuplenie [ Atonement]. Washington, DC, Inter-Language Literary Associates, 1964.


Poetry

Stikhi iz nevoli. Biblioteka samizdata, 3, Amsterdam, Fond imeni Gertsena, 1971; translated as Prison Poems, by David Burg and Arthur Boyars, London, Calder and Boyars, 1971.


Critical Studies

"'Priroda i t'iurma': O tvorchestve Abrama Tertsa i Nikolaia Arzhaka", by B. A. Filippov, Grani, 60 ( 1966), 75-93.

On Trial: The Case of Sinyavsky (Tertz) and Daniel (Arzhak), edited by Leopold Labedz and Max Hayward, New York, Harper, and London, Harvill Press, 1966; revised edition, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1980.

Belaia kniga po delu A. Siniavskogo i Iu. Danielia, edited by A. Ginzburg , Frankfurt, Posev, 1967.

Andrei Siniavskii and Julii Daniel': Two Soviet "Heretical" Writers, by Margaret Dalton, Würzburg, Jal, 1973.

"The Theme of Atonement in Yulii Daniel's 'Atonement"', by R. L. Chapple, South Atlantic Bulletin, 40/ 4 ( 1975), 53-60.

Tsena metafory ili prestuplenie i nakazanie Siniavskogo i Danielia, edited by E. M. Velikanova and L. S. Eremina, Moscow, 1989.

"Vozvrashchenie s progulki (K urokam odnogo politicheskogo protsessa)", by Igor' Ivolgin, lunost', 12 ( 1990), 58-61.

As a writer lulii Daniel', though talented in prose and verse, was always in the shadow of his more prolific and colourful co-defendant at their notorious trial, Andrei Siniavskii ( Abram Terts). Apart from his translations, several of which were highly praised by the authors of the originals, Daniel"s published literary output consists only of four prose stories and a slim book of prison poems. The highly personal verses are formally conventional and deceptively simple; the stories are written in a realistic, albeit ironical manner and with a sharp satirical edge and strong psychological perception.

"Ruki" ("Hands") 1956-57, the earliest and shortest of the stories, is based on a real occurrence. Narrated by a factory worker who has been recruited into the Cheka in the 1920s, it tells, in the form of reminiscences to an unseen friend, of his recruitment, training, and work, culminating in an order to kill three priests, the third of whom traumatized him by miraculously refusing to die (the Chekist colleagues had put a blank in his pistol as a joke). Following this episode, chronically trembling hands led to his dismissal as unfit for service. The use of a simple worker as narrator affords Daniel' many possibilities. Skaz (narration in the first person) brings humour to the picture of life in the Cheka and grotesquely highlights moral problems of which the simple narrator is barely aware. The author shows himself a master of low colloquial Russian mixed with Soviet slogans of the time, using the comical naivety of his narrator to contrast with the cruel events described. The morality of killing for the sake of an idea, exemplified by the order to murder innocent priests, is raised in still more direct form in the next story, Govorit Moskva ( This is Moscow Speaking) 1962.

Set in contemporary Moscow, Daniel"s second story, written

-237-

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