Features June 1983
Max Hayward: a portrait
On Russian literature and culture.
In a tribute to Max Hayward the Slavicist Victor Erlich wrote, “For some twenty-five years he labored tirelessly and selflessly to bring to the West the good tidings about the resurgence of the free Russian spirit.” Only a most unusual sort of scholar would have set out on such a course, as Max did, before the death of Stalin in 1953. The free spirit of Russia had seemingly been extinguished, and literature, as Boris Pasternak remarked, had ceased to exist. Exile, suicide, disgrace, or death in the camps had overtaken the country’s finest writers and poets. Those who had fortuitously survived, like Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova, worked in silence. Fiction, drama, poetry, and criticism were forums for exhortation. Such material could scarcely be regarded as a fit subject for literary scholarship in the West, though a few sociologically minded academics, mostly Americans, were attempting to study Soviet life...
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