Andrei Voznesensky Voznesensky, Andrei (Vol. 1) - Essay

Voznesensky, Andrei (Vol. 1)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Voznesensky, Andrei 1933–

A Russian poet, Voznesensky was the protégé of Boris Pasternak.

Voznesensky is important not only because he is becoming an idol of the intelligentsia but because he is the voice of a new Soviet generation which, as he describes it, has finally achieved sufficient material well-being to afford an interest in spiritual and philosophical matters….

Probably it is because his poetry rises above everyday politics and polemics that his popularity has grown so swiftly. Voznesensky's subject is mankind out of step with the world around him, a world full of chaos, conflicts and collisions.

Peter Young, "Eloquent New Voice in Russia," in Life, April 1, 1966, p. 69.

[Every] word [Voznesensky] writes, even when he is criticizing, reveals a profound love for his native land and its traditions. I wish to stress this strongly because, given the existing political climate, there is a danger that we shall misunderstand him by looking for ideological clues instead of reading his poems as one would read any poet who is a fellow-countryman.

W. H. Auden, "The Poetry of Andrei Voznesensky" (reprinted with permission from The New York Review of Books; © 1966 by NYREV, Inc.), in New York Review of Books, April 14, 1966, p. 3.

[Andrei] Voznesensky is, arguably, the greatest living Russian writer. He uses the full resources of a language which lay fallow for a quarter of a century of Stalinism and which he has helped to bring back into cultivation. As this reminds one, Western poets may well envy Soviet colleagues their good fortune in being able to take part in a Virgin Lands campaign more successful than its agricultural prototype. Just because things haven't all been done before, it is probably easier at present to write good poetry in Russian than in any other major language.

Voznesensky has not just plucked the fruits, he has sweated in the field too.

Ronald Hingley, "The Lands Where the Jumblies Live" (© 1966 by The Spectator; reprinted by permission of The Spectator), in Spectator, August 5, 1966, p. 180.

Voznesensky's earliest writings are said to be derivative of Pasternak, but, judging from his first published poems (1958), he quickly found his personal and wholly original idiom. He shares, however, Pasternak's fondness for the pathetic fallacy, and his sense of the unity of all organic life is quite Pasternakian….

But, above all, Voznesensky bears the mark of Pasternak's moral intelligence, which has formed and armed him, as it has so many others, in the struggle to recreate a genuine literature for Russia, devastated by Stalin….

In general, Voznesensky stands out among the other young poets in the Soviet Union for the resourcefulness with which he handles language. Probably none has a greater range than he. Together with [Yevtushenko], he has pioneered the emancipation of Russian poetic language from the restriction from which it has long suffered and given back to it something of the freedom which it enjoyed in the twenties. Where necessary for his poetic purposes, he never hesitates to introduce slang, neologisms, and the jargon of modern technology.

Excerpted from the "Introduction" to Andrei Voznesensky's Antiworlds, edited by Patricia Blake and Max Hayward, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers (New York), 1966, pp. ix-xviii.

The youthful and brilliant Andrei Voznesensky descends as much from Mandelstam, whom he never mentions, as he does from Pasternak and [Garcia Lorca], to whom he pays eloquent tribute. He is strong (as he needs to be under the circumstances), talented, and in his reach and ambition, capacious. Perhaps this makes him sound too solemn; his work also has about it a touch of Marcel Duchamp, dada, and the Beatles.

Hudson Review, Spring, 1967, p. 132.

Voznesensky's continual humour, varying from the absurd to the sardonic and the sinister, is primarily a verbal humour based on puns and inappropriate sound-echoes; only by an occasional stroke of good fortune can it be imitated without strain….

At their best moments all the poets represented [as translators] in Antiworlds seem to see Voznesensky's world, and pay him the only fit compliment poets can pay the poet whom they translate—by writing their best poetry on the basis of his vision, however superficially different the result may seem at first glance.

Robin Milner-Gulland, in London Magazine, June, 1967, pp. 81-6.

Voznesensky is an exciting poet. His sympathies are as various and compelling as the tones he uses to convey them. His delight in metaphor honors that word's root meaning. If he is poet as architect, he is also poet as dancer, his poems existing on the edge of change. Reading the best of them, I feel like saying with E. E. Cummings, "there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go."

Gibbons Ruark, "Yevtushenko and Voznesensky" (© 1967 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permismission of the Editor of Poetry), in Poetry, November, 1967, p. 124.

The metaphor—that most translatable of poetic devices—is what comes through to us in Voznesensky's poetry. He is a master of it, and we must take that and his ideas and be happy with them. It's about all we are going to get without learning Russian. And it's a great deal….

Andrei Voznesensky is an exciting writer who bangs and tumbles through his poems knocking over icons and knocking down walls, talking with curiosity, anguish, and joy—in sharp and startling metaphor—about love and technology, science and art, the self and the soul and Andrei Voznesensky and people. He is another reason, after more than enough reasons, for learning Russian.

Miller Williams, in Shenandoah, Winter, 1968, p. 80.