Many people have inspired and helped me to put this book together, and I would like to thank them. The late George Theiner, then editor of Index on Censorship, gave me the initial idea for the project when he sent me to explore the literary scene in Russia in 1987. Several émigré writers and critics whom I got to know at that time, among them Zinovy Zinik, Natasha Rubinshtein, and Sergei Yurenen, gave me the benefit of their knowledge and friendship. I owe a special debt to Igor and Lina Pomerantsev, who made me welcome in their world, and influenced mine in all sorts of ways.
My work on this book involved many visits to Moscow, and I am grateful to Natasha Perova for being such a generous host to me there, putting herself, her apartment, and her address book at my disposal. She also kindly obtained for me most of the photographs in this collection. Catherine Shepherd has been a very entertaining and tolerant host on my visits to London to do research. My mother Shirley Laird helped to make the research possible by looking after her granddaughter on numerous occasions.
Inge Larsen, Helle Dalgaard, and Tanja Koleva made me feel at home in Denmark by including me in their Russian corner of Aarhus, and have been very helpful in finding Russian books and journals for me there. In England, I have enjoyed many stimulating conversations on Russian themes with Svetlana Carsten from the University of Bradford. Robert Porter, at the University of Bristol, has given me useful bibliographic help.
I would like especially to thank Martin Dewhirst from Glasgow University, who at very short notice undertook to read painstakingly through the typescript. His comments, suggestions, help with references, and not least his friendly encouragement have been invaluable to me, and his eagle eye has saved me from all manner of infelicities and errors (any errors that remain are of course my responsibility alone).
My editors at the Oxford University Press have been patient during my slow production of this book. I am grateful to Andrew Lockett for his helpful comments on the first chapters, to Sophie Goldsworthy, Frances Whistler, and Janet Moth for supervising the preparation of the book, and to Mary Worthington for her careful reading of the text and her many useful suggestions and corrections.
All the writers whom I interviewed for this book (including several whose interviews, to my regret, could not be included here for reasons of space) have been generous in giving me their time. It has been a pleasure to get to know them.
My husband Mark Le Fanu and daughter Sylvia have cheerfully tolerated my many absences while I have worked on this project. They have also given me all sorts of things to enjoy and care about besides Russian literature, and I dedicate this book to them.