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The Silver Age

The late 19th century saw the rise of the symbolist movement in the Russian arts world. The outstanding figures of this time were the novelists Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900), Andrei Bely (1880-1934) and Alexander Blok (1880-1921) as well as the poets Sergei Yesenin, Lev Gumilev and Anna Akhmatova.

The Stray Dog, an underground bar on Arts Sq that has been reopened in recent years, was the meeting place where poets would read aloud from their work and writers, musicians and artists would exchange ideas over plenty of alcohol.

Alexander Blok

Alexander Blok


Alexander Blok took over where Dostoevsky left off, writing of prostitutes, drunks, Roma and other characters marginalised by society. Blok’s sympathies with the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were held up by the Bolsheviks – as was the work of Vladimir Mayakovsky – as an example of an established writer who had seen the light; Blok’s The Twelve, published in 1918, is pretty much a love letter to Lenin.
Vladimir Mayakovsky

Vladimir Mayakovsky


However, he soon grew deeply disenchanted with the revolution, consequently fell out of favour and died a sad, lonely poet. In one of his last letters, he wrote,
‘She did devour me, lousy, snuffling dear Mother Russia, like a sow devouring her piglet’. The flat where he spent the last eight years of his life is now a museum.

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