Shyness of a jerk – Gazeta Kommersant № 48 (7249) from 22.03.2022

Iosif Efimovich Aleshkovsky, one of the most significant masters of Russian literature, died at the age of 93. His main achievement is not so much the lyrics as the intonation, he believes Dmitry Butrin.

It is easy to imagine what Yuz Aleshkovsky would have said if someone had predicted to him in his youth that his life would end in warm Florida Tampa, and he would live 92 years and a few more months, days, hours. No matter how many – such a period, yes, more, boss, let’s sit for a sweet soul, who will voluntarily recline. Aleshkovsky himself has repeatedly said to many that his personal destiny is not that interesting and important, especially to himself, so biographical details are not so important – where, who, when. And to look for some actual symbolism in the date of the end of the life of one of the important people in the Russian literature of the XX century, apparently, will be vulgarity, completely inappropriate next to Aleshkovsky. If the author of “Nikolai Nikolaevich”, “Songs of Stalin”, “Okurochka”, “Maskirovka”, the supreme mother and a rascal of the Soviet land, could be blamed for something, it is not vulgar – I think his great gift is almost complete fit into this more unique ability to avoid any vulgarity in essence in speech, which in other mouths would sound the standard of moral decay.

The depth and incompleteness of this disintegration was the main theme of the writer Aleshkovsky.

In his youth, he began his intellectual career in the late Stalinist camp with his observation, acceptance of form, rejection of his being and slow research. Prior to that, as Aleshkovsky admitted, the sailor, who recklessly stole the car of the head of the Primorsky Regional Committee of the CPSU (B) in time to return to work, was, in fact, an organic part of a world where sailors were equal in lawlessness and madness. , members of the Politburo, escorts, thieves, political prisoners and waitresses in summer cafes. Surprisingly, this evolution of a young man, who was called Yuzik in the family a few years ago, had to start in the camp – he, as it turned out, was no less effective than the university. Probably, in Aleshkovsky’s topic, the topic of disintegration and its infinity, the remnant that is not subject to moral disintegration, it was not so important who leads the colloquium – an international urka or a professor with a turbulent Marxist youth. They say one thing.

It is even possible to indicate quite accurately when Yuz Aleshkovsky first estimated the extent of this decay and the magnitude of this residue. “Comrade Stalin” is a text from 1959, in which there is still a lot of camp political recklessness, but through which Aleshkovsky’s special chaste honesty shines through a little. “You dream of us when in a party cap / And in a tunic go to the parade” – is a confession of those who saw this dream, not irony. “Okurochek” is a text from 1965, when Khrushchev’s pathos of denying Stalinism became not only a state pathos, but also a forbidden commodity. And there is no recklessness here, but there is already the main decision of Aleshkovsky: for a camp buffoon, a foolish brother, there can be nothing sacred, because it is preserved in himself and in others that will not destroy any verbal curse. There is a dry remnant of the human in everything, and only it is worth dealing with, albeit hopeless, and the rest is irrelevant.

The man inside is indestructible, the case of the murderer is hopeless – he will not be able to destroy himself, no matter how hard you try. This is all that Aleshkovsky wrote during his long life.

And it is clear how he was weighed down by the fact that this dry residue, chastity that will never be spoiled by a dirty mouth, does not save from anything. Neither from the camps, nor from the snitches. Like many in this generation, he tried to save himself by addressing those who may not yet have learned the monster, the children. And, earning money from children’s literature, screenplays, he still could not leave what he was given the main problem: “Nikolai Nikolaevich”, a Moscow novel of 1970 – is a text about love, as well as “Little Prison Novel” in 2011, written already in Connecticut. For a writer, there can be no theme of Stalinism. There is a theme of life, that is, love – it is much more in the camp than outside. But one cannot abstract from the essence of the camp. And here the language, which Aleshkovsky learned from childhood in the 1930s, needs a ruthless intonation, mixing to the point of hiccups and frightening to the point of wet pants – love and life complement it to the real, true current state of our affairs.

It doesn’t seem to make sense to supplement Iosif Brodsky’s detailed opinion on Aleshkovsky’s language and function – Brodsky’s essay on Iosif Efimovich’s prose was published in 1995, and most of all in this essay there is fatigue: a couple of years before the poet’s death I had to write about Aleshkovsky things that he himself saw as self-evident, not so much in need of exposition, but for some reason (strange!) not clear to everyone around. Only three great authors in the history of Russian literature did not create language, but were instruments of language – Gogol in the XIX century, Platonov and Zoshchenko in the XX century, Aleshkovsky, according to Brodsky – the fourth. Brodsky did not have time to see how this mastery of the language of writers in the XXI century became the main railway line of Russian literature. The eternal prisoner Hughes laid the rails and sleepers for this purpose in his camp, which did not end in four years of detention. Well, where there is forced labor, there are also benefits for the mother. You can’t throw words out of a song, but words aren’t the main thing in a song.

Leaving the barracks, he discovered that every modern reader understands the discouraging frankness of texts that are still hailed.

In this ease of accepting the weightless words of Aleshkovsky in music and the essentially difficult theses – the recognition that we are still in this barracks, still in a quilted jacket and usually waiting for the evening balanda.

You don’t even have to try to escape – neither to high literature, nor to the philosophy of history, nor to ancient truths. What is there – it is impossible for a prisoner to really skip to Florida, even if for some reason he was there. Well palm trees. Not only that – put.

The only way to get out is for decades, to find out painstakingly every day: here we are in the camp. What human is left in us? What else, besides the camp, can we build from this human being in ourselves that is not killed by cynicism, or by the camp, or by the most hopeless moral decay? How to do it? How to do it?


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