Over the years I’ve had occasion to investigate various of the Russian writers known collectively as the Serapion Brothers (the most prominent of whom were Mikhail Zoshchenko and Victor Shklovsky), and I kept coming across the name Hongor Oulanoff, which always gave me a smile—there was something so incongruous about the combination of the Russian-sounding Oulanoff (Ulanov) and the very un-Russian Hongor. He turned up because he had written the first book-length study of the group, The Serapion Brothers: Theory and Practice (Mouton, 1966), and contributed several articles to the Handbook of Russian Literature (Yale University Press, 1990) edited by Victor Terras, a book I frequently use in my research.
Today, reading the front section of the NY Times, I found his death notice, from which I learned that he was an ethnic Kalmyk, a western Mongolian people (hence the name Hongor), and that he was born in Prague and studied in Paris before moving to the U.S. and teaching Russian literature at Vanderbilt and Ohio State. The notice says:
In the 1950s he helped his father Badma Badmanovich successfully petition the Eisenhower Administration to accept the Kalmyk refugees living in Western Europe, a people who had been purged and deported to Siberia under the Stalin era. As a result, many of the Kalmyks settled in the New York and New Jersey area. In 1990 Professor Oulanoff was honored at the 550th Year of Djangar Commemorative Festival in Elista, capital of the Autonomous Republik of Kalmykia, in Russia. There he presented the University in Elista with his compiled work of B. Kotvich’s linguistic study of the Kalmyk language, the only existing study at the time.
“B. Kotvich” is Władysław Kotwicz (Russian Vladislav Kotvich), whose book on Kalmyk grammar was published in Petrograd in 1915 (2nd ed. Řevnice, Czechoslovakia, 1929—the same year Oulanoff was born).
At any rate, Oulanoff seems to have been a good man as well as a good scholar; my condolences to his family.