On Our Shelves Now
The Death of Vazir-Mukhtar, a novel by Yury Tynyanov, one of the leading figures of the Russian formalist school, describes the final year in the life of Alexander Griboedov, the author of the comedy Woe from Wit. As ambassador to Persia, Griboedov was murdered in 1829 by a Tehrani mob during the sacking of the Russian embassy. One of the central texts of Russian formalist literary production, the novel is a brilliant meditation on the nature of historical and poetic consciousness and of artistic creation. It is a complex and fascinating work that explores the relationships among individual memory, historical fact, and the literary imagination. The result is a hybrid text, containing elements of various genres--historical, biographical, existential, and adventure novels--and a deeply personal, almost confessional testament to the writer's relationship to his generation and the state. Completed in 1927, almost a century after the events it depicts, The Death of Vazir-Mukhtar marks the watershed between revolution and reaction. At a time when the Soviet regime was becoming increasingly restrictive of freedom of expression and conscience, Tynyanov grappled with the themes of disillusionment, betrayal, and unrealized potential. Unabashedly intellectual yet filled with intrigue and suspense, The Death of Vazir-Mukhtar is a great historical novel of Russian modernism.