AbstractThis paper aims to provide an in-depth analysis of one of the most controversial memoirs of XX century Russian literature: Petersburg Winters by Georgy Ivanov. For a long time, this original prose work aroused bitter controversy because of its lack of veracity. The unusual presence of fanciful parts and documentary materials in Petersburg Winters is, in fact, the result of a conscious literary strategy. This experiment involves the whole corpus of Ivanov’s prose, where autobiography constantly merges with fiction.
Ivanov’s purpose is to represent the death of both pre-revolutionary Petersburg (where he lived before his emigration in 1922) and its literature during the first years of the Soviet era. Thus the theatralization of reality, the surrealism of everyday life and the presence of a sort of fantastic realism contribute to create a lively and, somewhat, faithful portrait of a ‘lost time’ when life and literature were constantly joined together. Moreover, Ivanov’s work can be examined in the broader context of the Russian prose of the Twenties: the same kind of device, which are often connected with the Formalist theories, can be found in Soviet as well as in émigré literature.
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