No Sex Please, This Is Russian Literature

Article excerpt


MOSCOW (AFP) u Italy has BoccaccioEs eEDecameronEE. Britain has eEFanny HillEE. France has... well, just about everything. But Russia is just taking its first timid steps into the world of erotic literature, as demonstrated at an award ceremony in Moscow.

More than 350 authors aged from 18 to 91 took part in the eERussian DecameronEE competition for erotic writing, the first such event since Sovietimposed corsets began to loosen in the late 1980s, and by all accounts they were not taking too many risks.

Crowned the best erotic writer and winner of a 1$5,000 prize, Igor Sakhnovsky from the Urals city of Yekaterinburg swore that his work was perfectly suitable for 13-year-old schoolchildren.

Jury member Vladimir Mirzoyev agreed, describing SakhnovskyEs collection of stories as eEwritten in the best traditions of Russian literature, very delicate, not at all violent or vulgar.EE

Another jury member, the world famous author of eEPushkin HouseEE Andrei Bitov, observed bluntly that there was eEno eroticismEE in the works of the finalists.

eEThis is an insurmountable barrierEE for the Russian language which is eEvery shy,EE he said. eEWe should leave sex to ordinary people and not try to sell it in written texts.EE


Sakhnovsky said he had not censored himself and had simply followed the example of such writers as Vladimir Nabokov (eELolitaEE) or the Nobel prizewinning Ivan Bunin who, he said, had been eEquite uninhibitedEE in their handling of intimate scenes.

Some of the judges believed that in the winnerEs work the delicacy of the writing had in effect removed all sensuality.

eEThe winners were writers who had put the emphasis on other things,EE said jury member Sergei Gandlevsky. …