Mark Aldanov

XX pageRussia, USA, FranceWriters

He was born in Kyiv into the educated family of a sugar manufacturer. The future writer was given an excellent education, and was fluent in several languages. He graduated from two faculties of Kyiv University at once: of law and of physics and mathematics (section of chemistry).

When WWI began, he moved to Petrograd where was involved in the development of chemical warfare defence systems. That, however, was not his primary field of interest any more. In 1915, he published a survey on literature study, Tolstoy and Rolland, that was highly appreciated by Tolstoy’s widow.

Aldanov, as most of the intelligentsia, did not accept the October coup. In 1918, he wrote the essay Armageddon that was later prohibited by the new regime. The writer emigrated to Paris where published his brilliant hot-on-the-heels essay Fire and Smoke (1921) comparing the Russian and the Great French revolutions.

In the 1920 s, his literary portraits of historical figures, revolutionaries, contemporary politicians were reprinted by almost every major Parisian edition. Since 1921, Aldanov became known to emigration circles as the author of exciting historical stories and novels, later translated into 24 languages. The first published was the story St. Helen, a Small Island (1921), followed by another one, The Chortov Bridge (1925) and the novels The Plot (1930), The 9 th of Termidor (1928), The Key (1930), Escape (1932), The Cave 1 (1934–36), The Beginnings (1946). The readers were offered a widespread outlook on the history of mankind of the 18 th-20 th centuries. In many novels, Ukraine was made a place of action along with Russia, France or England, and The Story of Death (1952) was completely based on Ukrainian historical material of the 19 th century. All novels tied with one another related the smartly picked tendencies of contemporary life.

At the beginning of WWII, Aldanov moved to the USA where he founded the literary periodical Novy Zhurnal (that exists to date). In 1947, he returned to France and settled in Nice, where he continued his hard work. The last novel printed in Aldanov’s lifetime was Live as You Wish (1952); another three were published after his death.

His books respond to the expectations of our epoch, including the re-established interest to history and rejection of ideological stereotypes; they make think and teach good.