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— VĂ­ctor Rodríguez Núñez

Arseny Tarkovsky Russia

Arseny Aleksandrovich Tarkovsky (1907-1989) is one of the more striking Soviet authors to emerge from the post-Stalinist “thaw” period of the early 1960s. His philosophical verse was influenced by the Russian Acmeists Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetayeva, filtered through his own modern sensibilty.

Tarkovsky was born in Yelisavetgrad, Russia. A brilliant linguist, specializing in Asian and Middle Eastern languages, he published his first literary translations in 1932 and worked in this field most of his life; his renderings of the Armenian bard Sayat Nova are still popular in his country. During World War II he rose to the rank of captain in the Red Army and lost a leg in battle. The publication of Tarkovsky’s first book of original poetry was halted in 1946 after the Central Committee’s sweeping attack of current Soviet Literature; it would not see print until 1962, under the title Before the Snow. Akhmatova called it “a precious gift to the contemporary reader”. His other collections are To Earth Its Own (1966), Messenger (1969), Verses (1974), Winter Day (1980), Selected Works (1982), Verses of Different Years (1983), From Youth to Senility (1987), and The Blessed Light (1993, after his death).

Tarkovsky was posthumously awarded the USSR State Prize in 1989 and now lies in a grave of honour next to author Boris Pasternak. He can be heard reciting his poetry in the films Mirror (1975) and Stalker (1979), both directed by his son, Andrei Tarkovsky.