Yevgeny Kharitonov
(Photo Uazik, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia)


Yevgeny Kharitonov was born in 1941 and died in Moscow in 1981. He was a proscribed writer whose work circulated in samizdat but was never officially published in his lifetime. Under House Arrest is a collection of his autobiographical fictions. Kharitonov’s homosexuality was central to his identity as a writer and gave him a unique perspective from which to write about Soviet society. This collection includes his best-known pieces most of them published here for the first time in English.



  Yevgeny Kharitonov

Under House Arrest
Translated by Arch Tait

Serpent’s Tail, London and New York
Paperback, 1998 ISBN 1-85242-355-2
208 pages

Translation kindly supported by the Arts Council of England



Autobiographical reverie and observation in the tradition of Rozanov, with something of Gogol and early Samuel Beckett in the humour: private firework displays sent up in a small concrete room by a man longing for escape and love but with the astringent mentality which came from accepting that he’ll never have much of either. Far from despairing – though Communism hadn’t any place for homosexuality, Russian life always did.
Duncan Fallowell

In an introduction to his works written during an attempt to form a literary club, Mr. Kharitonov wryly described the dilemma of a young Soviet writer who seeks both the prestige of official recognition and the status derived from challenging official norms. Writers need restrictions, he wrote: ‘Violating them provides the nerve of our art. If they were taken away, our nerves would be taken from us and the ground yanked out from under our feet.’

Feigning horror at the oblivion of a writer stripped of official restrictions, Mr. Kharitonov described the solution this way: ‘To burn only with an internal flame. But to be consumed by it. Then people will believe the poet and will spread his works.’
Serge Schmemann, New York Times


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