. . . to penetrate into that logic that is hidden beneath an absurdist surface, to feel the whirlwind created by that two-way spiral in which life and literature mutually cancel and enrich each other.
In contrast to Mandelshtam’s intensely personal [fictive] author. . . [in Vaginov] one feels the yearning to demonstrate the author’s creative omnipotence, his invulnerability.
Though the Western reader may at times find an analogue for certain individual facets of Vaginov’ prose in certain works of A. Gide, A. Huxley or V. Nabokov, their fusion nonetheless, produces something qualitatively new. It represents a unique phenomenon in European literature which shall inevitably be appreciated by the contemporary cultivated European reader.
Journalistic topicality, a mingling of styles, the motif of the split personality, prophecies of all kinds, etc. what Bakhtin. . . called “menippea” – all of this is to be found in the novels of Vaginov.
. . . Vaginov’s very irony, often nothing more than self-irony, was brought into being by a searing phenomenon characteristic of Russian culture in general: the fate of an intelligentsia endlessly debating the causes of its won crisis.
– Excerpts translated by Benjamin Sher
Note: My special thanks to Mr. Grigory Polansky, publisher of Silver Age, for kindly providing me with the
materials from which the excerpts below have been taken. Silver Age reprinted Vaginov’s original edition of Kozlinaia Pesn’ in the United States in 1978.