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Talk at 6.30 for 7.00 pm on Monday, 22 July – Open Russia, 67 Wimpole Street

17th July 2019

Dear All,


We regret to inform you that Peter Debbins has unexpectedly had to return to the USA on official business. So we have had to postpone the talk he had planned to give next Monday, 22 July for a future date.


However, our Chairman, David Brummell, has kindly agreed to step into the breach and give an illustrated talk himself on Monday about The Life and Work of Yuri Dombrovsky (1909 -1978).


Yuri Dombrovsky is comparatively unknown in the West. However, his two main literary works,The Keeper of Antiquities, and its sequel, the Faculty of Useless Knowledge, along with Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, stand as the greatest achievements of 20th century Russian literature.


Yuri Osipovich Dombrovsky was born in 1909 into the family of a well-known Moscow lawyer. He got into trouble with the authorities as early as 1932, while still a student in the capital. As a result of this incident he was arrested and exiled to Alma-Ata, the then capital of Soviet Kazakhstan. Although exile from Moscow was a punishment for Dombrovsky, he fell deeply in love with Alma-Ata and its history. He spent many years there, although this was interrupted by three further arrests and a total of 11 years’ imprisonment in the Gulag.


Dombrovsky not only wrote two incredible novels, but also a great collection of articles on both famous and long-forgotten artists and writers. Shakespeare was one of his main interests and was the inspiration for his novel, The Dark Lady. Dombrovsky’s knowledge of history and literature was encyclopaedic and suffused with his love for these subjects. He also wrote many poems in which he depicts his experience of the Gulag.


David will outline the key events in Dombrovsky’s life and link these to Dombrovsky’s creative development as a writer of both prose and poetry.


The evening will include readings in Russian by Alla Gelich and in English of three poems by Dombrovsky and (in English) of extracts from his prose works.

We do hope that you will join us on the 22nd.  Please let Ute know on membership@nullgbrussia.org if you would like to attend this lecture, or if not, whether you would like to have a credit for Peter Debbins’ talk when we manage to re-arrange or for a future talk.

Best wishes

Daniel Salbstein (Talks Organiser)


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