Selected Writings

Selected Writings

Selected Writings

Selected Writings


The least known of the Russian writers in Harold Bloom's Western Canon, Mikhail Kuzmin (1872-1936) is the last to emerge from the oblivion imposed by Soviet prudery on the country's non-conformist art. Green and Shvabrin's Mikhail Kuzmin Selected Writings takes the English-speaking reader well beyond the reference-book cliche of Kuzmin as Russia's first openly gay writer, made notorious by his coming-out novel Wings of 1906. One of the supreme Russian poets of the twentieth century - the equal of Akhmatova, Blok, Mayakovsky, Mandelstam, Pasternak, and Tsvetayeva - Kuzmin was also an out-standing prose writer, dramatist, and literary theoretician. Finally he is beginning to receive the attention that is his due.


Many Russian writers have called forth differing REsponses from their contemporaries, but there are few, if any, who can rival Mikhail Kuzmin in the number of utterly contradictory estimates his work has received. His poetry aroused the enthusiasm of connoisseurs, while his prose gave rise to scandal and passionate dispute. Many aspects of Kuzmin—poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer, performer, libertine and dandy—induced reactions that ranged from rapture and delight to loathing; his appearance, unconventional manner and—not least—a sexual orientation he made no attempt to conceal, could not but disturb. Here are a few reactions:

Kuzmin the pederast, with his half-barren cranium and
graveyard face painted like the corpse of a prostitute

[In Kuzmin] there was no affectation: there was the in
born elegance of an alien species, a special elegance of
frame; there was the tea-drinker’s flyaway little finger—so
drank Lafayette, liberator of America, in the eighteenth
century; so drank from a pewter mug André Chénier, most
courageous of poets, in the Conciergerie; apart from a per
sonal elegance of frame there was a physical tradition, a
physical inheritance, a “mannerism”—something inborn.

(Marina Tsvetayeva)

For Kuzmin art is everything.

(Aleksei Remizov)

Kuzmin is an emblematic figure of Russian civilization at the beginning of the twentieth century. He is one of the most vivid and vibrant personalities of Russian Modernism; he was fated to join the cohort of underground “makers” of the Soviet period, a writer who has had to wait decades for a rediscovery that is still in process (at least outside Russia).

Much has changed since the appearance in 1972 of the first . . .

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