Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Andrei Arsenievich Luchnikov

Andrei Arsenievich Luchnikov (ahr-seh-NIH-yeh-vihch LEWCH-nih-kov), the handsome, Oxford-educated, red-mustached, forty-five-year-old editor of the Russian-language publication Courier. He supports Crimea’s unification with the Soviet Union. After exploring Russia alone, he returns to Crimea, lives with Tanya, and wins the Crimea Rally. His victory propels his political cause, so that Crimea requests unification with Russia.

Arseny Nicholaevich Luchnikov

Arseny Nicholaevich Luchnikov (ahr-SEH-nee nih-koh-LA-yeh-vihch), Andrei’s father, nearly eighty years old, a tall, thin scholar who wears jeans and a leather jacket. A former colonel in the White Army during the civil war, he is killed surrendering to occupying Soviet forces.

Anton Andreevich Luchnikov

Anton Andreevich Luchnikov (ahn-DREH-yeh-vihch), Andrei’s tall, blond, nineteen-year-old, politically opposed son. He escapes Crimea with his wife and child during the Soviet occupation.

Marlen “Marlusha” Mikhailovich Kuzenkov

Marlen “Marlusha” Mikhailovich Kuzenkov (mih-KHA-ih-loh-vihch KEW-zehn-kov), Andrei’s friend, the head of the Soviet Foreign Division of the Central Committee and an expert on Crimea. He commits suicide after he realizes that the election will produce reunification.


Dmitri (DMIH-tree), or Dim Shebeko (dihm sheh-BEH-koh), Kuzenkov’s twenty-five-year-old son, a saxophonist with a jazz-rock band who helps Andrei go underground in Russia.

Tatyana (Tanya) Lunina

Tatyana (Tanya) Lunina (tah-TYAH-nah LEW-nih-nah), a thirty-eight-year-old...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Andrei Luchnikov is aloof from the realities of day-to-day existence. He is part of Vassily Aksyonov’s own generation of intellectuals who believed that the Stalinist legacy was dead and that a new, freer Russia would emerge. As the intellectuals of the late 1960’s were disappointed, so is Andrei. The character becomes involved in the destruction of his own country. Andrei sets the wheels of change in motion only to be crushed under them.

Andrei cannot understand his father’s love, nor his attachment to an independent Crimea. Arseny sees the problems of reunification. He sees reunification as a retreat from historical reality. He himself has retreated to his mountain home, Kakhova, named after the battle in which Crimea won her independence from Soviet Russia. This retreat from political life and Andrei’s inability to value his father’s views are themes similar to those in Ivan Turgenev’s Ottsy i deti (1862; Fathers and Sons, 1867). Arseny is killed during the Soviet invasion when the Volunteer Army, the old men who served during the civil war, approach the Soviets to lay down their rusty weapons.

Anton, Andrei’s son, offers Aksyonov’s view of a younger generation participating in the community of humanity regardless of nationality. There is more than a generational conflict between father and son. Anton is not a political activist but believes that all people should have freedom. He joins the Yaki movement not to antagonize Andrei but to feel a part of a group. In the end, Anton is saved...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Johnson, John J. “Introduction: The Life and Works of Aksenov,” in The Steel Bird and Other Stories, 1979.

Meyer, Priscilla. “Aksenov and Soviet Literature of the 1960’s,” in Russian Literature Triquarterly. VI (1973), pp. 447-463.

Meyer, Priscilla. “A Bibliography of Works by and About Vasily Pavlovich Aksenov,” in Ten Bibliographies of Twentieth Century Russian Literature, 1977. Edited by Fred Moody.

Mozejko, Edward, Boris Briker, and Per Dalgard, eds. Vasiliy Pavlovich Aksenov: A Writer in Quest of Himself, 1986.

Slobin, Greta. “Aksenov Beyond ‘Youth Prose’: Subversion Through Popular Culture,” in Slavic and East European Journal. XXX (Spring, 1987), pp. 50-64.