Having finished Journey into Russia (see the previous post), I’m now gobbling up a much more enjoyable read, Moscow Summer, by the Yugoslavian writer and dissident Mihajlo Mihajlov (who died last year, largely forgotten; here‘s his brief NY Times obit). Mihajlov met with everybody who was anybody in the Moscow literary-cultural world of 1964 (who wasn’t away at their dacha), some famous (Ehrenburg, Voznesensky), others less so (Vladimir Dudintsev, Yuri Bondarev—for some reason called “Bondaryov” in this translation), some now even more forgotten than the author (Vladimir Turbin, a critic and early supporter of modernism). Mihajlov was unduly optimistic about the future of Soviet culture, expecting a rapid dismantling of censorship (“another 1956”) instead of the expansion that was about to occur under Brezhnev, but that was true of the Russians he spoke to as well. Anyway, anyone who enjoys being plunged into the cultural life of a bygone era as much as I do (and enjoys reading things like “According to [Vladimir] Lakshin [an editor at Novy Mir], Solzhenitsyn is writing a long novel at his house in Ryazan”) might want to locate a copy of this book.

Update (2012). Here is a moving reminiscence of Mihajlov by Aleksa Djilas (Milovan’s son).


  1. I was pleased to see that all his books are in my library, plus a book the NY Times doesn’t mention: a biography of Abram Terts (in Russian) called ‘Abram Terts: ili, Begstvo iz retorty’. Sounds intriguing.

  2. Victor Sonkin says

    I wonder what the learned public would make of this:

  3. That is Morson’s point. He quotes, within the interior dialogue of an imaginary French professor, the original just as tacente does. And wonders why the speaker (1) has it “longer”, (2) where the “half an inch” comes from, (3) whether it’s Bartlett’s (answer: no, he has a literal translation) and (4) how “the face of the world” got lost. It’s Sutherland, who, in addition to introducing the bit about modern nose jobs, keeps the “inch” anyway in his version of Pascal’s supposed original.
    If the question is whether English speakers and writers really make those changes, the answer is, yes, definitely. Even Lord Russell and Will Durant and someone writing about Pascal and citing Havel’s edition by page.

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