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Informer 001: The Myth of Pavlik Morozov
by Yuri Druzhnikov Transaction Publishers, 1996, 200 pp.

      When Russia was in the throes of Joseph Stalin's campaign for the forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture, a young boy named Pavlik Morozov informed the OGPU (now called the KGB) that his father was an enemy of the regime. As a result, Pavlik's father was arrested and disappeared in a Soviet concentration camp. Enemies of the party later killed the boy, whereupon people proclaimed him their hero. Since then, Pavlik Morozov's glory has surpassed the fame of many Russian heroes. Hundreds of works have been published about the boy in various genres, from poetry to opera; his portrait has graced galleries, postcards, and postage stamps; ships and libraries have been dedicated in his honor; his bronze statue in Moscow was built on the personal order of Stalin; and every schoolchild in the Soviet Union learned his biography in order to follow his example.
      Informer 001 is the first exhaustive, secret, independent study of the Morozov affair and is Yuri Druzhnikov's search for the truth about his life, death, and the perpetuation of his legacy. Druzhnikov examined documents, visited museums, and interviewed virtually everyone who knew Morozov during his short lifetime. In book after book, he discovered inconsistencies in every fact, from where Morozov was born to how old he was at the time of his death. Photographs of the hero, when compared, turned out to be of different people. Historical archives contained no documents of Morozov. Memorial museums displayed no personal relics; instead they contained pictures, books, and newspaper clippings. Attempts by Druzhnikov to interview living witnesses were met with resistance, he was even followed constantly. The subject of Pavlik Morozov was "officially untouchable.”
      As Druzhnikov pieced together the story about Morozov's life, death, and legacy from interviews, books, court documents, and newspaper reports, it became clear that the campaign to keep Morozov a hero was centrally directed. Informer hero number 001, as Morozov came to be known, remained a fearful reminder to all; to those who inform, and those who become the victims of denunciations. Informer 001 offers Western readers a step-by-step detective story, and at the same time gives a unique glimpse into the behind-the-scenes operations of Soviet political history. At a time when children are winning the right to sue their parents and when trials for murdering parents result in hung juries. Informer 001 will be fascinating reading for the general public, as well as for sociologists, historians, and Russian studies specialists.

Contemporary Russian Myths: A Skeptical View of the Literary Past
by Yuri Druzhnikov Edwin Mellen, 1999, 365 pp.

      A fresh look at such familiar figures as the poet Alexander Pushkin, his wife Natalya, his hallowed nurse Arina, and his heroine Tatyana, prose writer Nikolay Gogol, and emigre author Alexander Kuprin. Vladimir Lenin, it seems, acquired the basics of socialism from a French humorist by the name of Albert Robida and not, as is generally believed, from Karl Marx.
      ContemporaryRussian Myths contains new facts about the famous “Chairman of the World” Velimir Khlebnikov, the unknown Moscow underground philosopher Nikolai Ventzel, “the Father of the People” Joseph Stalin, and about Yuri Trifonov, winner of the Stalin prize in literature. Some of this book's protagonists created their own myths, some participated in them, still other were victims like the rest of us.
      The author of ContemporaryRussian Myths remains faithful to the genre of scholarly literary investigation. The book consists of polemical essays at the intersection of Russian history, literature and culture. It is an expedition through Russian literature and history of the XIX-XX centuries in search of the myths that all Russians take for granted from childhood. Druzhnikov's treatment of this subject includes forays into the political circumstances of that time, as well as a unique analysis of the state of Soviet and Post-Soviet Literary studies. This book, a result of both serious scholarship and an unusual view of the subject in question, is both original and convincing. The author's iconoclastic, irreverent approach to common sense combined with his wry paradoxical wit make this work an important contribution to understanding Russian literature and culture.

Prisoner of Russia
by Yuri Druzhnikov Transaction Publilshers, 1998, 357 pp.

      As the central figure in Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) has been claimed by nearly every political faction, right and left, in Russian cultural politics over the past two centuries, culminating in his official canonization under the Soviet regime. In Prisoner of Russia, Yuri Druzhnikov analyzes the distortions and misrepresentations of Pushkin's cultural appropriation and his attitudes toward Russian and Western Europe.
      Druzhnikov's semi-biographical narrative concentrates on Pushkin's attempts to leave Russia after his graduation from the Lyceum, through his period of exile, until his early death in a duel in 1837. The matter of emigration from Russia was a politically charged issue well before 1917; witness the hostile reception on. The émigré artist's cultural context is often used to assess his authenticity and stature as seen in the Western examples of Henry James, T.S.Elliot, or James Joyce. Druzhnikov sharply criticizes the omnipresent and reductive tendency in Russia (and the West) to define Russian cultural figures in terms of absolute essences and ideologies and to ignore the ambivalences than in fact help to define a writer's singularity. In the larger view, he argues, it is these that explain the variety and complexity of Russian culture.
      Druzhnikov's multidisciplinary approach combines literary and political history, with critical commentary arranged in chronological sequence. His interpretive apparatus ranges widely through nineteenth- and twentieth-century history, and provides the necessary intellectual context for nonspecialist readers.

Angels on the Head of a Pin
by Yuri Druzhnikov. A Novel. Peter Owen Publishes, London, 2002, 566 pp. The Modern Classic series, bringing some of internationally acclaimed authors and their works to a contemporary readership. Voted one of the Ten Best Russisn Novels of the 20th century by the Warsaw Conference, 1999.

      “Rather larger than the head of a pin, you could fit several million angels on top of this monster book which combines the scope of Solzhenitsyn with the mordant humor of Bulgakov. Written in the 1970s, but banned until the fall of Communism, Druzhnikov's novel has sold more than a quarter of a million copies in Russia but has yet to be discovered here.” (Observer, London)
      Angels on the Head of a Pin is set in Moscow in the late 1960s at a time when the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia had heralded the return to personality cuit and repression following the Khrushchev-era anti-Stalinist liberalisation. Set in a fictitious national-level Russian newspaper called Trudovaya Pravda, the story begins with the editor-in-chief, Igor Makartsev, having a heart attack on the doorstep of the Communist Party Central Committee building.
      What ensues is a microcosmic welter of life in the Soviet Union at a point in time that should have marked the transition, along with Dubcek's Czechoslovakia, to a more humane and reasonable regime. The appearance of a samizdat (“self-published”) manuscript on the staid apparatchik editor-in-chief's desk is presumably brings on his heart attack. His conundrum is a triple one—Who put it in his office, Why it was put there, and What to do with the thing to avoid falling victim to the malevolence that the manuscript provokes. The last element of the conumdrum is solved with the help of Yakov Rappoport, the novel's central character, an overweight, aging and cynical Jewish veteran of the war and two spells in the gulag. Rappoport is—in a surreal but somehow wholly believable sense—the author of not only the obnoxious popular campaigns that the newspaper sponsors, but of every speech that ever gets made in public by the principals of the regime as well.
      The rampant opportunistic malevolence of the times is personified by a KGB-sponsored editor who happens to be a dead ringer for Vladimir Putin in every possible respect except—conveniently—for his age, as the President of the Russia would have been an impressionable child at the time.

Passport to Yesterday
by Yuri Druzhnikov. A Novel. Peter Owen Publishers, London, 250 pp. Coming in April, 2004.

      “People are badly put together. They remember everything. Remember even things that should have been scattered to the winds long before.” Gifted young violinist Oleg Nemetz's rural life is overturned in the storm of the Second World War and the Stalinist regime that succeeds it. Blown far away from his home and a father who never returned from the front, Oleg lands in San Francisco as a violinist in the symphony orchestra and attempts to make sense of his shattered past. Years later, when the orchestra tours the Soviet Union, a series of events and clues from his past lead him back to his old town, the story of his father's disappearance and the Russia he left behind.
      “Deals with the absurdity of Russian life from which the only escapes are emigration and death… Ferocious honesty.' — World Literature Today
      “These characters are more than alive. They are our relatives, members of our family, neighbours. It's a strange, unusual, mysterious impression.” — Heinrich Böll
      “Not one inauthentic detail… Druzhnikov is working accurately and precisely like a sapper.” — Literary Gazette, Moscow.