Leningrad Samizdat Poetry: Music for a Deaf Age

The Religious-Philosophical Seminar (Leningrad 1974-1980) was an underground study group where young intellectuals staged debates, read poetry and circulated their own typewritten journal, called “37”. The journal offered a platform to poets who subsequently entered the canon of Russian 20th-century literature, such as Viktor Krivulin (1944-2001) and Elena Shvarts (1948-2010). 

Josephine von Zitzewitz’s book can be read in different ways: as a study of a prominent current in 20th-century Russian poetry or of Leningrad underground culture from a literary angle; as an enquiry into the intersection between literary and spiritual concerns, or as separate case studies of five poets belonging to a special generation.

The talk and book presentation will be accompanied by historic recordings of the poets under study reading their work.

Josephine von Zitzewitz is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Russian Studies at the University of Cambridge, having previously held appointments at Oxford University. She specialises in the literature and culture of the late Soviet Union, in particular samizdat and Leningrad culture of the Brezhnev era.