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Muravyov, the Hangman


Grigory Pomerants
Tomas Venclova Poet
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I married in Moscow and lived at my wife's place. I made a living from my translations like before, that is to say, I translated novels, books from various languages into Lithuanian. About once a year, I'd get a fee and I could live off that fee. Well, I made a lot of friends and acquaintances in Moscow, almost all of them disposed to act very freely and in an anti-Soviet way, there in Moscow, already there were many of them. I've already mentioned some of them; I'm going to mention several more now. For example, there was a certain thinker – you couldn't really call him anything else – Grigory Pomerants, a former political prisoner, who had spent a good number of years in Stalin's labour camps because during the war he had fought in the Soviet army and had protested against the atrocities committed by Soviet troops in Germany. He wrote letters to the government saying that this shouldn't be allowed. And he was sentenced to prison for doing that. He said that he could never have graduated from a better university since in prison with him, there was a large number of professors, each of whom taught complete courses to their friends in misfortune. Grigory Pomerants is still alive today and lives in Moscow, the author of many books, a popular person, who wrote during those times for the ‘self-publishing agency' or samizdat. He wrote philosophical essays, witty, interesting, easy to read, and, so to speak, of value on every level. Young people used to get together at his place. And he, in a small flat, the flat was perhaps 12m², he taught those young people, as it were, wisdom. We discussed all kinds of things, we discussed [Georg Wilhelm] Hegel, we discussed [Immanuel] Kant, we also discussed politics and many other things.

Maskvoj vedžiau, gyvenau pas žmoną. Gyvenau iš vertimų kaip ir anksčiau, tai yra versdavau romanus, knygas iš įvairių kalbų į lietuvių kalbą. Kartą per metus maždaug gaudavau honorarą ir iš to honoraro būdavo galima pragyventi. Na ir labai daug atsirado Maskvoje draugų ir pažįstamų, beveik visi labai laisvai ir antitarybiškai nusiteikę. Tada jau Maskvoj jau buvo daug. Keletą jau suminėjau, suminėsiu dar keletą. Sakysime, buvo toksai mąstytojas, jo turbūt kitaip ir nepavadinsi, Grigorijus Pomerancas – buvęs politinis kalinys, praleidęs gana daug metų Stalino darbo stovyklose, lageriuose dėl to, kad per karą jisai kariavo, reiškia, tarybinėje armijoje, ir protestavo prieš tarybinių kareivių žiaurumus Vokietijoje. Rašė laiškus vyresnybei, kad to negalima leisti. Ir už tai buvo pasodintas į kalėjimą. Jisai sakė, kad niekad gyvenime nebūtų išėjęs geresnio universiteto, kadangi kartu su juo kalėjime sėdėjo daugybė profesorių, kurių kiekvienas ten skaitė savo nelaimės draugams ištisus kursus. Grigorijus Pomerancas gyvas ir dabar, jisai gyvena Maskvoje, daugelio knygų autorius, populiarus žmogus, vienas iš tų, kuris tais laikais rašė į vadinamąją savilaidą arba samizdatą. Tokią filosofinę eseistiką, sąmojingą, įdomią, lengvai paskaitomą ir, taip sakant, visais atžvilgiais vertingą. Pas jį rinkdavosi jaunimas. Ir jis, mažame butelyje, turbūt ten buvo dvylika kvadratinių metrų tas butelis, mokė jaunuolius, taip sakant, išminties. Diskutavome įvairiausius dalykus, diskutavome Hegelį, diskutavome Kantą, diskutavome taip pat ir politiką ir daugelį kitų dalykų.

Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Moscow, Grigory Pomerants, Georg Wilhelm Hegel, Immanuel Kant

Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012