A Precocious Autobiography Critical Essays

Yevgeny Yevtushenko


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Yevtushenko’s autobiography is more than an account of his early years. Even though the book tells about his beginnings as a poet and about the important influences in his life, it is also a commentary on Soviet society. Because his family background predisposed him toward a revolutionary way of thinking, and because he was born and reared in a communist society, he identified early with communism as the best political system. At the same time, he was not blind to the faults and shortcomings of this system, as demonstrated to him most vividly during Stalin’s funeral. In his most famous poem, “Babi Yar,” he states defiantly that the Russian people are international to the core and he has retained that belief. It is not surprising, therefore, that he describes himself as a convinced communist until the end of the autobiography.

The only way to reconcile his faith in communism with its obvious disappointing results and with crimes committed in its name—the murder of his grandfathers, for example—was for Yevtushenko to cling to an idealistic faith in the innate goodness of communist ideals. His argument was that, if only Stalin and other leaders had followed the shining examples of Lenin and other early revolutionaries instead of perverting the revolutionary ideas, then the Soviet Union would have been spared an embarrassing history and remained the beacon for foreign true believers. Much of Yevtushenko’s activism is fueled by this belief in the...

(The entire section is 518 words.)