Rasputin in 2011
|Born||Valentin Grigoriyevich Rasputin|
15 March 1937
Atalanka, Irkutsk Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Died||14 March 2015 77) (aged|
|Alma mater||Irkutsk State University|
|Notable works||Farewell to Matyora|
Valentin Grigoriyevich Rasputin ( // ; Russian : Валенти́н Григо́рьевич Распу́тин; 15 March 1937 –14 March 2015) was a Russian writer. He was born and lived much of his life in the Irkutsk Oblast in Eastern Siberia. Rasputin's works depict rootless urban characters and the fight for survival of centuries-old traditional rural ways of life, addressing complex questions of ethics and spiritual revival.
Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.
Irkutsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia, located in southeastern Siberia in the basins of the Angara, Lena, and Nizhnyaya Tunguska Rivers. The administrative center is the city of Irkutsk. It had a population of 2,428,750 at the 2010 Census.
Valentin Rasputin was born on 15 March 1937 in the village of Ust-Uda in Irkutsk Oblast of Russia. His father worked for a village cooperative store, and his mother was a nurse. Soon after his birth the Rasputin family moved to the village of Atalankain the same Ust-Uda district, where Rasputin spent his childhood.
Ust-Uda is an urban locality in Ust-Udinsky District of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. Population: 5,173 (2010 Census); 5,307 (2002 Census); 5,190 (1989 Census).
Ust-Udinsky District is an administrative district, one of the thirty-three in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. Municipally, it is incorporated as Ust-Udinsky Municipal District. The area of the district is 20,400 square kilometers (7,900 sq mi). Its administrative center is the urban locality of Ust-Uda. Population: 14,385 (2010 Census); 16,747 ; 28,790 (1989 Census). The population of Ust-Uda accounts for 36.0% of the district's total population.
Both villages, then located on the banks of the Angara River, do not exist in their original locations any more, as the Bratsk Reservoir flooded much of the Angara Valley in the 1960s, and the villages were relocated to higher ground.Later, the writer remembered growing up in Siberia as a difficult, but happy time:
The Angara River is a 1,779-kilometer-long (1,105 mi) river in Siberia, which traces a course through Russia's Irkutsk Oblast and Krasnoyarsk Krai. It is the river that drains Lake Baikal and is the headwater tributary of the Yenisei River. It was formerly known as the Lower or Nizhnyaya Angara. Below its junction with the Ilim, it was formerly known as the Upper Tunguska and, with the names reversed, as the Lower Tunguska.
Bratsk Reservoir (Russian: Бра́тское водохрани́лище, Bratskoye Reservoir) is a reservoir on the Angara River, located in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. It is named after the city of Bratsk, the largest city adjacent to the reservoir. It has a surface area of 5,470 square kilometres (2,110 sq mi) and a maximum volume of 169.27 × 1012 litres (37.2 × 1012 gallons).
"As soon as we kids learned how to walk, we would toddle to the river with our fishing rods; still a tender child, we would run to the taiga, which would begin right outside the village, to pick berries and mushrooms; since young age, we would get into a boat and take the oars..."
Taiga, also known as boreal forest or snow forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruces, and larches.
When Rasputin finished the 4-year elementary school in Atalanka in 1948, his parents sent the precocious boy to a middle school and then to high school in the district center, Ust-Uda, some 50 km away from his home village. He became the first child from his village to continue his education in this way.
Rasputin graduated from Irkutsk University in 1959 and started working for local Komsomol newspapers in Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk. He published his first short-story in 1961.
The All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, usually known as Komsomol, was a political youth organization in the Soviet Union. It is sometimes described as the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), although it was officially independent and referred to as "the helper and the reserve of the CPSU".
Krasnoyarsk is a city and the administrative center of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located on the Yenisei River. It is the third-largest city in Siberia after Novosibirsk and Omsk, with a population of 1,035,528 as of the 2010 Census. Krasnoyarsk is an important junction of the Trans-Siberian Railway and one of Russia's largest producers of aluminium.
An important point in Rasputin's early literary career was a young writers' seminar in September 1965 in Chita led by Vladimir Chivilikhin (Владимир Чивилихин), who encouraged the young writer's literary aspirations and recommended him for membership in the prestigious Union of Soviet Writers. Since then Rasputin has considered Chivilikhin his "literary godfather".
In 1967, after the publication of his Money for Maria, Rasputin was indeed admitted to the Union of Soviet Writers. Over the next three decades he published a number of novels – many became both widely popular among the Russian reading public and critically acclaimed.
In 1980, after researching the Battle of Kulikovo for two years, Rasputin was baptised by an Orthodox priest in nearby Yelets.
Rasputin's literary work is closely connected to his activism on social and environmental issues. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Rasputin, called by some[ by whom? ] the leading figure of the "Siberian environmental lobby", took an active part in the campaign for protection of Lake Baikal and against the diversion of Siberian fresh water to Central Asian republics. In the 1990s he participated in the nationalist opposition movement. Having spent most of his adult life in Irkutsk, Rasputin remained one of the leading intellectual figures of this Siberian city.
He was a guest for many events in the city of Irkutsk, including the unveilings of the monuments to Tsar Alexander III, Alexander Vampilov and Alexander Kolchak. He organized the readers' conference in Irkutsk Central Scientific Library named after Molchanov-Sibirsky.
Rasputin's daughter Maria died in the 2006 crash of S7 Airlines Flight 778, and his wife died six years later. He died in Moscow on 14 March 2015, a day short of his 78th birthday.Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church conducted his funeral service, and President Vladimir Putin paid his respects. (In 2014 Rasputin had co-signed a letter by writers in support of Putin's annexation of the Crimea.)
Rasputin is closely associated with a movement in post-war Soviet literature known as "village prose," or sometimes "rural prose" (деревенская проза). Beginning in the time of the Khrushchev Thaw (оттепель), village prose was praised for its stylistic and thematic departures from socialist realism. Village prose works usually focused on the hardships of the Soviet peasantry, espoused an idealized picture of traditional village life, and implicitly or explicitly criticized official modernization projects. Rasputin's 1979 novel Farewell to Matyora, which depicts a fictional Siberian village which is to be evacuated and cleared so that a hydroelectric dam can be constructed further down the Angara River, was considered the epitome of this genre.The opening paragraph below is a good example of Rasputin's writing style (exceptional even for the village prose writers), and the novel's theme of natural cycles disrupted by modernization:
Once more spring had come, one more in the never-ending cycle, but for Matyora this spring would be the last, the last for both the island and the village that bore the same name. Once more, rumbling passionately, the ice broke, piling up mounds on the banks, and the liberated Angara River opened up, stretching out into a mighty, sparkling flow. Once more the water gushed boisterously at the island’s upper tip, before cascading down both channels of the riverbed; once more greenery flared on the ground and in the greens, the first rains soaked the earth, the swifts and swallows flew back, and at dusk in the bogs the awakened frogs croaked their love of life. It had all happened many times before. (From Rasputin's novel Farewell to Matyora, translated by Antonina W. Bouis, 1979)
Rasputin's nonfiction works contain similar themes, often in support of relevant political causes. He directed particularly trenchant criticism at large-scale dam building, like the project that flooded his own hometown, and water management projects, like the diversion of the Siberian rivers to Central Asia. He argued that these projects were destructive not simply in an ecological sense, but in a moral sense as well.
In Siberia, Siberia (first published in 1991), Rasputin compares what he considers modern moral relativism with the traditional beliefs of the people of Russkoye Ustye, who believed in reincarnation. According to Rasputin, when burying their dead, the Russkoye Ustye settlers would often bore a hole in the coffin, to make it easier for the soul to come back to be reborn; but if the deceased was a bad person, they would drive an aspen stake through the grave, to keep his soul from ever coming back into the world of living again. The writer is not ambiguous as to which category the souls of the "modernizers" should belong:
When reflecting on the actions of today's "river-rerouting" father figures, who are destroying our sacred national treasures up hill and down with the haste of an invading army, you involuntarily turn to this experience: it would not be a bad idea for them to know that not everything is forgiven at the time of death.
Some critics accused Rasputin of idealizing village life and slipping into anti-modern polemics. The journal Voprosy literatury published an ongoing debate on the question, "Is the Village Prose of Valentin Rasputin Anti-Modern?"
By the end of perestroika Rasputin became publicly active. He criticized Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms from patriotic and nationalistic positions. His repetition (at the 1st Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union) of Stolypin's statement "You need great upheavals. We need a great country" («Вам нужны великие потрясения. Нам нужна великая страна») made it a phrase commonly used by the antiliberal opposition.
He also signed several open letters, most notably the "Letter of Russian Writers" (also known as the "Letter of Seventy Four") addressed to the President and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and published in the Literary Newspaper and Nash Sovremennik in 1990.74 writers expressed concern regarding the rose of Russophobia in mass media and "fabrication of the "Russian fascism" myth while the Zionist ideology is getting quick rehabilitation and idealization". The letter was criticized by opponents who labeled the signers as "antisemits"; many of them later signed what is considered their answer — the "Letter of Forty-Two". Rasputin himself argued that his alleged antisemitic statements have been exaggerated and taken out of context. In July 1991, Rasputin along with 11 other public and political figures signed another open letter "A Word to the People".
In 1992, Valentin Rasputin joined the National Salvation Front (a coalition of radical opposition forces), nominally belonging to its leadership. He later supported the CPRF and its leader, Gennady Zyuganov.
Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.
Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia and its émigrés and to the Russian-language literature. The roots of Russian literature can be traced to the Middle Ages, when epics and chronicles in Old East Slavic were composed. By the Age of Enlightenment, literature had grown in importance, and from the early 1830s, Russian literature underwent an astounding golden age in poetry, prose and drama. Romanticism permitted a flowering of poetic talent: Vasily Zhukovsky and later his protégé Alexander Pushkin came to the fore. Prose was flourishing as well. The first great Russian novelist was Nikolai Gogol. Then came Ivan Turgenev, who mastered both short stories and novels. Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky soon became internationally renowned. In the second half of the century Anton Chekhov excelled in short stories and became a leading dramatist. The beginning of the 20th century ranks as the Silver Age of Russian poetry. The poets most often associated with the "Silver Age" are Konstantin Balmont, Valery Bryusov, Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov, Osip Mandelstam, Sergei Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak. This era produced some first-rate novelists and short-story writers, such as Aleksandr Kuprin, Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin, Leonid Andreyev, Fyodor Sologub, Aleksey Remizov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Andrei Bely.
North Asia or Northern Asia, sometimes also referred to as Siberia or Eurasia, is partly a subregion of Asia, consisting of the Russian regions east of the Ural Mountains: Siberia, Ural and the Russian Far East. The region is sometimes also known as Asian Russia. North Asia is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by Eastern Europe, to the south by Central and East Asia and to the east by the Pacific Ocean and North America. North Asia covers an area of approximately 13,100,000 square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi) or 8.8% of the earth's land area, or 1.5 times the size of Brazil. It is the largest subregion of Asia by area, but is also the least populated, with an approximate total population of only 33 million people or 0.74% of Asia’s population. North Asia is solely administrated by Russia, and makes up more than 75% of the territory of the country, but only 22% of its population, at a density of 2.5 people per km2. The region of Western Siberia and occasionally Kazakhstan is usually called Northwestern Asia or Northwest Asia;, although the name sometimes refers to Caucasus or nearby provinces.
The early history of Siberia was greatly influenced by the sophisticated nomadic civilizations of the Scythians (Pazyryk) on the west of the Ural Mountains and Xiongnu (Noin-Ula) on the east of the Urals, both flourishing before the Christian era. The steppes of Siberia were occupied by a succession of nomadic peoples, including the Khitan people, various Turkic peoples, and the Mongol Empire. In the late Middle Ages, Tibetan Buddhism spread into the areas south of Lake Baikal.
The Soyot people live mainly in the Oka region in the Okinsky District in the Republic of Buryatia, Russia. According to the 2010 census, there were 3,608 Soyots in Russia. Their extinct language was of a Turkic type and basically similar to the Tuvans. Their language has been reconstructed and a textbook has been published. The language is currently taught in some schools in Oka. The Oka River, the largest river flowing down from the Western Sayans into the Angara is called the Ok-hem meaning "an arrow-river" by the Soyots of the Oka River basin.
Valentin Petrovich Kataev was a Russian and Soviet novelist and playwright who managed to create penetrating works discussing post-revolutionary social conditions without running afoul of the demands of official Soviet style. Kataev is credited with suggesting the idea for The Twelve Chairs to his brother Yevgeni Petrov and Ilya Ilf. In return, Kataev insisted that the novel be dedicated to him, in all editions and translations. Kataev's relentless imagination, sensitivity, and originality made him one of the most distinguished Soviet writers.
Alexander Valentinovich Vampilov was a Russian playwright. His play Elder Son was first performed in 1969, and became a national success two years later. Many of his plays have been filmed or televised in Russia. His four full-length plays were translated into English and Duck Hunting was performed in London and Washington DC.
Irkutsk State University was founded in October 1918 in Irkutsk, Siberia. At present, the University consists of 19 faculties, 7 educational institutions and 1 branch. Over 18 thousand students, including 300 foreign students from 27 countries, study at University in 52 specialties, and more than 620 lecturers work there. Among other facilities Irkutsk State University has the Center for Advanced Training and Retraining, 3 research institutes, Interregional Institute of Social Sciences, Center for New Information Technologies, Baikal Research and Education Center, department for post-graduate and doctoral courses, scientific libraries, astronomical observatory and botanic garden.
Valentin Savvich Pikul was a popular and prolific Soviet historical novelist of Ukrainian-Russian heritage. He lived and worked in Riga.
Russkoye Ustye is a rural locality, the only inhabited locality, and the administrative center of Russko-Ustinsky Rural Okrug of Allaikhovsky District in the Sakha Republic, Russia, located 120 kilometers (75 mi) from Chokurdakh, the administrative center of the district. Its population as of the 2010 Census was 157, down from 181 recorded during the 2002 Census. For several decades during the Soviet era, it was officially called Polyarnoye (Поля́рное).
Siberia, Siberia is a non-fiction book by the Russian writer Valentin Rasputin. It was originally published in Russian in 1991 by Molodaya Gvardiya. The second and third editions appeared in 2000 and 2006; an English translation is available as well.
Village Prose was a movement in Soviet literature beginning during the Khrushchev Thaw, which included works that focused on the Soviet rural communities. Some point to the critical essays on collectivization in Novyi mir by Valentin Ovechkin as the starting point of Village Prose, though most of the subsequent works associated with the genre are fictional novels and short stories. Authors associated with Village Prose include Aleksander Yashin, Vasily Belov, Fyodor Abramov, Valentin Rasputin, Boris Mozhayev, Vasily Shukshin. Some critics also count Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn among the Village Prose writers for his short novel Matryona's House.
Balagansk is an urban locality and the administrative center of Balagansky District of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. It is located on the left bank of the Angara River, downstream from Svirsk and 285 kilometres (177 mi) by road northwest of Irkutsk and to the southeast of Sayansk. Population: 4,109 (2010 Census); 4,307 (2002 Census); 4,136 (1989 Census).
Farewell is a 1983 Soviet drama film based on Valentin Rasputin's novel Farewell to Matyora and directed by Elem Klimov.
Stroganina is a dish of the indigenous people of northern Arctic Siberia consisting of raw, thin, long-sliced frozen fish. Around Lake Baikal, the dish is referred to as raskolotka. Traditional stroganina is made with freshwater whitefish salmonids found in the Siberian Arctic waters such as nelma, muksun, chir, and omul. Rarely, it is made with sturgeon. This dish is popular with native Siberians, and is present in Yakutian cuisine, Eskimo cuisine, Komi cuisine and Yamal cuisine. It is often paired with vodka.
Farewell to Matyora is a 1976 novel by Valentin Rasputin. The novel treats Rasputin's major theme of the baneful impact of industrialization and urbanization on peasant life.