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Nikolai Alekseevich Klyuev
(October 10, 1884 - October 23 - 25, 1937) Russia

Nikolai Klyuev



Nikolai Klyuev (occasionally transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet as Kliuev, Kluev, Klyuyev, or Kluyev), was born was probably born in the village of Koshtugi, on the rivers Megra and Kimreka, and he was certainly baptized there in 1884. He grew up near the southern end of Lake Onega in northern Russia, in the area around the small town of Vytegra. The area, relatively remote from major urban centers, is culturally a border area between traditionally Slavic and Finno-Ugric territories. Klyuev lived in villages where both Orthodoxy and the Old Belief were practiced.

After the early 1920s Klyuev never returned to his native region, living first in Petrograd/Leningrad, then Moscow. He remained faithful to his early identification with the peasantry and Old Russian culture. He was also deeply attached to the memory of the young Sergei Esenin.

He was the lover of Nikolai Arkhipov, a novelist. But the great love of his later life was the young artist Anatolii Yar-Kravchenko, a painter, with whom he lived in Leningrad at the end of the 1920s.

By the end of the 1920s, Klyuev was very much persona non grata in Soviet literature. Labeled a "kulak poet" (peasant poet), he was repeatedly attacked, and very rarely published. He continued to write very actively however, composing a series of striking long poems, and a considerable body of lyric works.

In 1934 he was arrested in Moscow, and exiled to Siberia. He lived in Tomsk until 1937, when he was again arrested, convicted of participating in a monarchist plot, and shot. He was rehabilitated posthumously in 1957. Some of the his works were published in the west in the 1950s and 1960s, others were published for the first time only in the 1980s and 1990s.


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