The Diaries of Nikolay Punin

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The Diaries of Nikolay Punin


By Nikolay Punin

Edited by Sidney Monas and Jennifer Greene Krupala

Translated by Jennifer Greene Krupala

The first English translation of ten diary notebooks that art critic Nikolay Punin wrote between 1915 and 1936.



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6 x 9 | 323 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-72377-1

Nikolay Punin (1888-1953) was the most articulate Russian/Soviet art critic of the 1920s. He strongly advocated Constructivism, an avant-garde impulse that favored mechanomorphic abstraction and proclaimed a movement to bring art into the center of popular life. In the United States, he is perhaps best remembered for his love affair with Anna Akhmatova, one of the great poets of the twentieth century.

This volume presents the first English translation of ten diary notebooks that Punin wrote between 1915 and 1936, as well as selections from his earlier (1904-1910) and later (1941-1946) diaries and some thirty notes and letters relating to his affair with Anna Akhmatova. These materials offer a rare glimpse into the life of art and artists in Russia. They also present vivid scenes from the 1905 Revolution, World War I, the 1917 Revolutions, World War II, and Stalinist oppression through the reflections of a talented man, who, unlike many of his generation, lived to tell the tale.

Introductory Essay: Nikolay Punin and Russian Futurism
Sidney Monas
Introductory Essay: Punin and Akhmatova
Jennifer Greene Krupala
Note on the Translation
Early Materials from the Punin Diaries, 1904–1910
Notebook One, 1915–1917
Notebook Two, 1919–1920
Notebook Three, 1920
Notebook Four, 1921–1922
Notebook Five, 1922–1923
Notebook Six, 1923–1924
Notebook Seven, 1924
Notebook Eight, 1924–1925
Notebook Nine, 1925–1926
Notebook Ten, 1936
Late Materials from the Punin Diaries, 1941–1952

Sidney Monas is Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and History at the University of Texas at Austin, where Jennifer Greene Krupala is a Ph.D. candidate in Russian and comparative literature

"Punin was an extraordinary figure, both as a man and as a thinker.... His relations with such schools as Constructivism, Acmeism, and Formalism make him a key figure in understanding the fate of theory in Russia."
—J. Michael Holquist, Yale University, editor of the works of M. M. Bakhtin

PEN USA West 2000 Translation Award