Kotik Letaev by Andrei Bely
(European Classics)

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One of the most important works of twentieth-century Russian prose, Kotik Letaev, the great symbolist novel of childhood, depicts the emergence of consciousness and its development into self-consciousness in a Russian boy growing up among the Moscow intelligentsia in the 1800s.

Kotik's experience is based on elements from Bely's own early childhood, but on a larger level his experience represents the stages of human history, the history of philosophy, and childhood language development. The story, seen through the eyes of a child from the age of three to five years, is told in complex, poetically developed adult language, rich in imagery and musical sound effects.

About Andrei Bely

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A symbolist poet, Andrei Bely was also a literary critic and theorist and one of the most important figures in twentieth-century Russian fiction. His Petersburg (1916-35) is one of the century's great novels. He initially studied science but had begun his literary career even before graduation. His early poetry was shaped by mystical beliefs associated with the concept of the Divine Wisdom, beliefs shared by Aleksandr Blok and other younger symbolist poets. In later years, Bely was deeply affected by the German anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner, whom he began to follow in 1912. Blok's writings from that time on bear the imprint of his commitment to Steiner's teachings. Bely's prose continued the stylistic traditions of Nikolai Gogol, about whose work he wrote. Brilliantly innovative in language, composition, and subject matter, Bely's fiction had a great impact on early Soviet literature. His novels The Silver Dove (1910), and St. Petersburg (1913) deal with Russian history in broad cultural perspective, focusing especially on East-West opposition. Kotik Letaev (1918), anticipated stream-of-consciousness techniques in Western fiction in its depiction of the psyche of a developing infant. The Christened Chinaman (1927), an autobiographical novel, is also highly innovative in its language and three-level narrative.
Published January 1, 1971 by Ardis Publishers. 222 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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While many people would be hard-pressed to remember what they ate for lunch, the late Russian writer Bely (pseudonym for Boris Nikolayevich Bugaev, 1880-1934) wrote a semi-autobiographical work focusing entirely on the experience of being between the ages of three and five.

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