ऑसिप मांदेलस्ताम ने कभी कहा था,'रूस ही ऐसा देश है जहां कविता की इज़्ज़त है. कविता की वज़ह से लोग जान गंवाते हैं.' अपनी कविताओं के पीछे ही मांदेलस्ताम को अपनी जान गंवानी पड़ी थी. जो कवि नहीं थे उनके पास वोदका पी-पीकर अपने को (जान को भी) गंवाने के मौके थे. और ऐसे मौकों का फ़ायदा उठाकर लोग नियम से जान गंवाते भी रहते थे. कहने का मतलब स्तालिन और पोस्ट-स्तालिन काल के लाल तारा काले-सफ़ेद उजाड़ और सियाह रूस में जान गंवाने के बहुविध तरीके मुहैया थे. फेदेयेव जैसा लेखक सरकारी भाटगिरी के कोरस में गा-गाकर थकते हुए खुद को गोली मारकर अपना काम तमाम कर ले, ऐसे सुनहरे मौकों की भी कमी नहीं थी. मगर फिर भी कुछ बेहया थे, सत्रह चोटों के बावजूद सरकार को मुंह बिराना बंद कर रहे थे, न कविताएं लिखना. साठ के दशक का समय है. आइये, एमानुएल करेर की नई किताब से उस उलझाव-घुमावदार रूसी समाज की कुछ छोटी झांकी लें..
“Joseph Brodsky, the young prodigy from Leningrad, as he was dubbed in the early sixties by Anna Akhmatova. Now that Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva have passed away, all the connoisseurs consider her the greatest living Russian poet. Of course there’s also Pasternak, but he’s rich, covered in honors, and insolently happy. His tardy clash with the authorities will remain civilized, while Akhmatova, banned from publishing since 1946, lives on tea and dry bread in shared apartments, which adds to her genius the aura of resistance and martyrdom. She says: “I was in the midst of my people, there, where, in their misfortune, my people were.”
In his malevolence, Eduard likes to describe Brodsky as the eternal top of the class, forever hiding behind the teacher’s petticoat, but the truth is that Brodsky’s youth was every bit as adventurous as his own. Also the son of a junior officer, he left school early, worked on a milling machine, dissected bodies in a morgue, and spent time as a geological assistant in Yakutia. Along with another young punk, he left for Samarkand, where he hijacked a plane in an attempt to reach Afghanistan. Interned in a psychiatric hospital, he was given hideously painful sulfur injections and a pleasant therapy known as ukrutka, which consisted of wrapping the patient in a sheet, plunging him in an icy bath, and letting him dry, still wrapped in the sheet. His fate took an important turn when, at twenty-three, he was arrested on charges of “social parasitism.” The trial of this “Jewish pygmy in corduroys, this writer of poems where gibberish and pornography fight for the upper hand” (to quote the prosecution), would normally have gone unnoticed. But a journalist present at the hearing wrote it all down in shorthand, the transcript circulated as samizdat, and an entire generation was electrified by this exchange: “Who has enrolled you in the ranks of poets?” the judge asks. Brodsky thinks.
“Who enrolled me in the ranks of the human race? God, perhaps…” As Akhmatova commented: “What a biography they’re concocting for him, our redhead! You’d think he was the one pulling the strings!”
Banished to the Far North near Arkhangel’sk for five years, the redhead wound up shoveling manure in a tiny village. Frozen earth, an abstract landscape marked by cold, white expanses, and the rugged friendship of the villagers: the experience inspired poems that, reaching Leningrad by circuitous routes, became cult objects for all of the more or less dissident circles in the Union..
* * *
There were the official writers. The engineers of the soul, as Stalin had called them. Socialist Realists who toed the line. The Sholokhovs, Fadeyevs, and Simonovs, with apartments, dachas, trips abroad, and access to stores reserved for high Party officials, whose complete works were bound, printed in the millions, and crowned with the Lenin Prize. But these privileged writers couldn’t have their cake and eat it too. What they gained in comfort and security they lost in self-esteem. In the heroic era of socialist construction they could believe what they wrote and be proud of who they were. But in the days of Brezhnev, of soft Stalinism and the nomenklatura, such illusions were no longer possible. They knew full well that they wrote in the service of a corrupt regime, that they’d sold their souls and that everyone else knew it too. Solzhenitsyn, their collective conscience, said it: one of the most pernicious aspects of the Soviet system was that short of being a martyr you couldn’t be honest. You couldn’t be proud of yourself. To the extent that they weren’t half-wits or cynics, the official writers were ashamed of what they did, ashamed of who they were. They were ashamed of writing long articles in Pravda denouncing Pasternak in 1957, Brodsky in 1964, Sinyavsky and Daniel in 1966, and Solzhenitsyn in 1969, while deep in their hearts they envied them. They knew that these authors were the true heroes of their time, the great Russian writers to whom the people turned, as they had turned to Tolstoy in former times, for answers to the questions What is good? What is bad? How should we live? The most spineless of them sighed that if they’d had the choice they’d have followed these high-minded examples, but what can you do, they had families, children still in school, all the excellent reasons collaborators have for not living a life of dissidence. Many became alcoholics; some, like Fadeyev, killed themselves. The cleverest, who were also the youngest, learned to play both sides.”
(एमानुएल करेर की एक बतकही है, यहां है)