Bulat Okudzhava

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(3062) Okudzhava, Bulat (1924-1997). “Pesni” (“Songs”).

Original typescript, 2nd copy. 19 sheets held by a paperclip which would seem not to be the original. 30,2cm x 20,8cm.

Text of poetry and songs written before 1962. Indicated on the first sheet is:

Gor’kii, 1962 “Bulatizdat”, fictitious publisher found in the the years 1965- 70 on certain samizdats of Okudzhava.

Okudzhava’s father was a Georgian and victim of the “purges”. His armenian mother survived the Gulag and was rehabilitated after the Twentieth Parti Congress. In 1942 at the age of 19 Okudzhava voluntarily took part in the war that would leave him wounded and this experience inspired a multitude of songs and poems on the subject of the Second World War.
He composed his first song in 1943 and his first book “Lirika” was published in Kaluga in 1956. From 1957 he worked as editor to several reviews “Komsomolskaia Pravda”, “Molodaia Gvardiia”, “Litgazeta”.
His story “Bud’ zdorov, shkoliar” is refused for publication by the censors in 1961 because of the pacifist ideas in the text. At the same time, between 1961-2, a large number of his songs are vehemently criticised since the texts did not relay the desired official representation of the Soviet heroic youth. In the middle of the 1960’s Okudzhava proves his independence, signs petitions for Daniel and Siniavskii and publishes abroad. At each time however Okudzhava knew when to pull out of a situation that could potentially endanger him as he also knew how to publicly “repent of his sins” when he needed to. His survivalist instinct left him free while he saw the majority of his work banned during the Brezhnev era and under Andropov (1982-4), the prohibition being personally handed down by Andropov himself condemning the poet’s texts and reserving special interest that those who circulated the poet’s texts in samizdat should be vigorously pursued.

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