Satirikon and Silver Age Russian satire

One of the locus points of Russian satirical writing after the turn of the 20th century was a magazine titled Сатирикон – transliterated variously as Satirikon, Satiricon and Satirycon. It was published in St. Petersburg from 1908 to 1914, with a spinoff New Satirikon running from 1913 to 1918.


Along with satirist Arkady Averchenko, the writer of the most recent story in B O D Y’s Sunday European Fiction, Teffi, was one of the journal’s main contributors, while the rest of the editorial board and further contributors is a stunning assemblage of literary  and artistic talent: Sasha Chernyi, Vladimir Lebedev, Aleksandr Kuprin, Leonid Andreyev, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Aleksey Tolstoy, Alexander Grin, Osip Mandelstam, Vladimir Mayakovsky (in the New Satirikon, as some of the others might be but I’m not going to research who exactly), and the fascinating sounding Ossip Dymow.


You can view two years’ worth of the original journals online at the University of Southern California’s digital library and even if you can’t read Russian they are incredible-looking works of art. And the library has a lot more than this journal in their collection of Russian satirical journals.


Satirkon editorial board: Averchenko is second from the left, Kuprin is seated at the right

Writers like Averchenko, who died in emigration in Prague, and Teffi have fallen into obscurity compared to some of their contemporaries, and are almost non-existent in English translation. There is a Teffi collection currently in the works while an Averchenko collection came out in an English translation by Igor Gregory Kozak in 2010 titled “A Friendly Letter to Lenin, ‘Ninochka’, and Other Short Stories by Arkady Averchenko.” I have a review copy of this and will get to it at some point but it otherwise costs $119 so is, I assume, not something people buy as they casually browse the bookstore shelves. Nevertheless, you can read some of Averchenko’s stories online as well as an introduction about the writer’s recent rediscovery on the translator’s website.


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Categories: Afterwords


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