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Эдуард Лимонов вне политики
Ich bin weder Politiker noch Philosoph. Ich bin Schriftsteller...
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Hero or thug? This ‘fictional’ memoir of politician Eduard Limonov can’t decide, but it does reveal the corruption in post-Soviet Russia.

This is a most peculiar book. It is published here as fiction (as it was in France, where it won the Prix Renaudot), but — even allowing for the capaciousness of that form — isn’t remotely a novel. Rather, it is a biography whose author only interviews its subject — and then, very unsatisfactorily — when he has already written a full draft. His book describes the life of a Russian outsider, punk, hoodlum, writer, socialite, jailbird and eventual politician, whose existence you might doubt if the internet did not confirm it. It is also difficult, as a reader, to make up your mind what to think of its subject, Eduard Limonov, because the author, French writer and film director Emmanuel Carrère, cannot make up his mind, either. Indeed, at one stage he sets the whole project aside for a year because a late-surfacing TV clip of Limonov brown-nosing Radovan Karadzi´cc and loosing off a machine gun in the general direction of Sarajevo makes his hero look, not violent or criminal, but worse: “ridiculous”. There are equivalent times when the reader might want to set the book aside, having run out of patience with its self-mythologising protagonist; and yet its wider subject, the condition of post-Soviet Russia — raucous, vulgar, pitiful, despairing, angry — keeps pulling you back in. As a text it is constantly self-reflective, without always being self-aware. Perhaps the book it most closely resembles is Paul Theroux’s memoir about VS Naipaul. Some took that as a late-taken act of literary and personal revenge. It always struck me as much more a document of thwarted love, as does this book.

Carrère comes from the comfortable Parisian professional class (his father a senior executive, his mother a distinguished historian), and while he had some bohemian-hippie days, his main act of filial rebellion, as he admits, consisted in a change of arrondissement; he has, generally, done things from within his own society, and with that society’s approval. Limonov was born in 1943 into the Ukrainian working class (his father a low-level secret policeman, his mother a munitions factory worker), and his social, literary and political trajectory — to Moscow then New York and Paris and back to Moscow — has been dramatic, even melodramatic. In Russia, it is possible to go from a punk autobiographer who signs himself “the Johnny Rotten of literature” to co-leader of a political coalition alongside Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, and Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister. Nor does this tardy, seeming respectability prevent him also dreaming about armed revolt, and establishing an (admittedly tiny) training camp near the Kazakhstan border. In Britain, we tend to think of political extremism as being represented by Nigel Farage, whose supporters turn their backs on the European parliament. Limonov ran the National Bolshevik Party, shortened to the unlovely yet telling “Nazbol”, whose supporters are not shy of bellowing their enthusiams: “Stalin! Beria! Gulag!”

The conformist loves the transgressor, the bourgeois loves the punk, the careful man the adventurer; while the Parisian intellectual (see Sartre and “Saint Genet”) typically loves the intransigent despiser of all that Parisian intellectuals stand for. Some, if not all of these themes play out in Limonov. And the man who needs a hero finds a hero. Not just in the sense of protagonist, either. Carrère is a man of reflection, Limonov a man of action. Carrère is a self-doubting liberal, Limonov a clear-headed extremist. Carrère requires psychoanalysis, Limonov knows his own mind so clearly that he would despise outside intervention. Most of all, Carrère is soft, Limonov hard. He takes a pitiless view of the world, admiring strength, despising weakness, admiring winners, despising losers. At the same time, he is, he claims, “always on the side of the underdog”. But he’s also on the side of the overdog, his most consistent hero being Stalin. Also revered are Gaddafi, Charles Manson, Andreas Baader, Lenin, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Yukio Mishima and Jim Morrison. He hates all “bullshit”, he hates all “assholes”, by which he tends to mean liberals, humanists, democrats, anti-totalitarians. Specifically: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, Elena Bonner, Boris Pasternak, Mstislav Rostropovich, Mikhail Gorbachev. And even more than his “natural enemies”, he loathes those who occupy his own niche but with more success. So, he began as a poet; ergo, he hates most other poets, and all famous ones, but especially the one who came, like him, from the Russian sticks, yet rose higher: Joseph Brodsky. His attitude is less rivalrous than pathological. Writers, on the whole, admire great(er) writers. Whom does Limonov admire? As far as this book shows, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas and Jack London. The boys’- adventure brigade.

Why, then, is he interesting? Flaubert, asked to justify his interest in Nero and the Marquis de Sade, replied, “These monsters explain history to us.” Limonov is not a monster, though would perhaps like to think himself one; he is a philosophical punk, a chancer, a blood-and-soil patriot who imagined himself a cleansing political force. Carrère, reflecting on his subject’s escapades, decides that:

He sees himself as a hero; you might call him a scumbag; I suspend my judgment on the matter. But … I thought to myself, his romantic, dangerous life says something. Not just about him, Limonov, not just about Russia, but about everything that’s happened since the end of the second world war.

That final phrase is an overclaim by some distance; but certainly Limonov’s deeds and beliefs help illuminate the history of the Soviet Union since 1989: the chaos, the anger, the despair, the wild-west capitalism, the pillaging of the economy by the oligarchs, the destruction of ordinary people’s savings, the loss of any sense of day-to-day normality, even if that normality had been dull and tarnished and unfree. What an extraordinarily short time has elapsed between the official abolition of the Communist party and the coming to power of a former KGB man, followed by the nostalgic semi-rehabilitation of Stalin. Carrère chooses as his epigraph Putin’s line: “Whoever wants the Soviet Union back has no brain. Whoever doesn’t miss it has no heart.” As the book proceeded, I was half-expecting that Putin’s arrival would be applauded by Limonov: here, finally, comes the strong man, the anti-Gorbachev, the all-action keep-fit fanatic, the cleaner-out of softie dissenters, the hard leader who will make the west tremble again … But Russian reality is always much weirder than you can anticipate. Limonov hates Putin (perhaps, as Carrère points out, because he is the final and greatest example of someone occupying his own niche but with more success), and Putin duly responds by having Limonov banged up on plausible if semi-invented charges. The book’s natural conclusion — especially if indeed it were the novel it proclaims itself to be — would probably find Limonov in Ukraine, among the official-unofficial hero-thugs come from over the border to defend Greater Russia. But it ends before Putin’s invasion of Crimea; and perhaps Limonov, in his early 70s, is in any case now too old for action.

“Hero” or “scumbag”? Note Carrère’s reply: “I suspend judgment.” This is a very strange authorial position, but Carrère is consistent in his inconsistency. Just as he seems to think at one point that his book might be a novel, only to tell Limonov, when he finally goes to interview him, that it is a “biography”, so he oscillates between calling Limonov “unsavoury” and a “two-bit thug” to calling him “magnificent”. Three-quarters of the way through the book, he notes: “I don’t think Eduard’s vile or a liar. But who’s to say?” Who, if not his biographer, you would think. What Carrère admires about Limonov is his sense of purpose, his clarity of mind, his directness, his honesty. “It’s not like him to exaggerate,” Carrère notes. The Frenchman also admires the way the Russian intimidates others with his very presence. Here he describes Limonov in New York during the late 1970s:

He walks home along Madison Avenue looking at the passers-by, above all the men, and judging them. Better than me? Worse? Most are better dressed: this is a rich part of town. A lot of them are taller. Some are more handsome. But he alone has the hard, determined look of someone who’s able to kill. And all of them, when they happen to make eye contact, look away in fright.

This would seem to have been very sensible on the part of those New Yorkers: Manhattan, before the big clean-up, was a potentially violent place, and eye contact was not what you made when someone looking like a Russian thug from the wrong part of town came striding towards you.

More importantly, this passage shows how trusting Carrère is of Limonov’s own written account. He has already decided that Limonov is honest, that Limonov never exaggerates (and can also see into the hearts of Americans approaching him in the street). And yet Limonov’s own books contain explicit warnings against taking them as gospel. On the third page of his first book, It’s Me, Eddie (1979 in Russian, 1983 in English), Limonov warns that “objectivity is not among my attributes”. The book is subtitled, in its British edition, “a fictional memoir”. In a later book, His Butler’s Story, Limonov specifically refers to this earlier one (which he is having difficulty selling) as “a novel”. Even without such signposts, the text itself ought to have been enough to alert Carrère — the more so since time has passed and its genre has become more apparent. Limonov writes with a coarse exuberance which seeks to catch the eye of some while hoping to offend others (the influence of Henry Miller is evident). An adventurer rather than a hero, a delinquent rather than a dissident, Limonov’s freewheeling version of his life, swaggering in both its highlights and lowlights, has the relentlessness of one terrified of being thought a bore. And Carrère buys into it.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to sex. Limonov has — by his own novelistic account — been very successful with women (also, in New York, with men). A bohemian first wife, a glamorous second one, a Parisian countess, then, as he ages, women younger, and finally much younger than himself. He is a tremendous fucker, we are assured, and yet, once in a relationship, he remains noble, faithful (except when not), protective, chivalrous — even when his women become, as they do, mad, drunk, nymphomaniacal or suicidal (which is obviously all their own doing). Who tells us so? Well, Limonov himself, of course. Most people lie about their sex lives; and the successful are just as inclined to lie as the unsuccessful, a fact Carrère doesn’t appear to consider. And when a kind of doubt creeps in, it is not about Limonov’s truthfulness. Here is Carrère on Limonov’s time in New York:

I’m a bit embarrassed to report it, but he’s gotten into the habit of grading women: A, B, C, D, E, F, as in school, and this classification is at least as social as it is sexual. With the one stunning exception of Tanya, whom he’s always considered an incomparable A … he’s had a lot of Ds in his life.

Carrère is “a bit embarrassed” by this. On the other hand, consider this scene from a previous chapter, when Limonov has just had a television delivered to help him learn English:

When they turn it on, Solzhenitsyn appears, the sole guest on a special talk show, and one of Eduard’s cherished memories is having fucked Tanya in the ass under the bearded prophet’s nose as he harangued the west for its decadence.

No, he’s not a bit embarrassed by that. Rather, all through, Carrère acts as a cheerleader for Limonov’s sex life. There is the “famous Parisian beauty he practically felt up during a society dinner ... She had the most beautiful breasts he’d ever seen.” There is his girlfriend Natasha: “She was spectacular: tall, majestic, her powerful thighs wrapped in fishnet stockings ... ” And so on. At one point Carrère refers to a girl’s “rustic pussy”, which sounds a little baffling. He appears to think that when Limonov, in S&M mode, strangles his wife nearly to death, this is just the honest extremism of sex. He doesn’t seem to notice Limonov’s casual (or rather, endemic) sexism, the gynophobia which lies so close to the surface of his satyriasis - perhaps because he admires it. Here, after all, is Carrère, always an active presence in his book, recalling his own girlfriend Muriel, a fellow student at the Institut d’études politiques in Paris: “She was a knockout, with curves like a Playboy model and a way of dressing that left nothing to the imagination.” I think that even if I wasn’t “a bit embarrassed” as a man by that sentence, I ought to be a bit embarrassed by it as a writer. (And no, it isn’t any classier in the French original.)

Limonov is all about hardness — political, physical, sexual. His pitilessness is also made much of — as if it were a branch of truthfulness rather than a defect of character. But the punk stance — that everyone else deals in bullshit except yourself — rarely stands up to scrutiny. He despises the weak, the losers, he never gives alms; and yet here he is, suddenly filling the tip saucer of a lavatory attendant with banknotes, crying, “Pray for us, Babushka, pray for us.” The thug as sentimentalist — or rather (which he is loath to admit) as human being. Perhaps the most revealing moment in terms of Limonov’s essential character is when he considers the swift and extrajudicial killing of the Ceausescus. If Romania was less of a prison camp than the Soviet Union, Nicolae Ceausescu was as corrupt and tyrannous as most of his fellow communist dictators. Except to Limonov, who finds the manner of their deaths “a scene worthy of the tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles”:

Journeying together toward eternity, simple and majestic, Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu have joined the immortal lovers of world history.

This is not just the sentimentality that often lies beneath cruelty, but also a sentimentality about cruelty.

As I say, this is a very peculiar work. Carrère claimed in a recent interview that it was “not a biography” because he didn’t “check facts, or check out what he [Limonov] actually said”. But this doesn’t make his book a novel; rather, a knowingly inaccurate biography — one which I enjoyed having read more than I actually enjoyed reading. It also struck me that Carrère was perhaps not the best choice to write about Limonov — not even in his own family. Whenever his mother comes into the story, occasionally offering her professional opinion about the history or current state of Russia, she sounds cogent, accurate, unswayed by romantic admirations, and well able to make up her mind. Perhaps she would have written a better book than her son. Apart from anything else, she would certainly have been clearer-headed about Limonov and women.


Intellectual history, "nonfiction novel," and a nuanced study of a fascinating and infuriating public figure: all of these are apt descriptions of Emmanuel Carrère’s 2011 book on the Russian writer and political leader Eduard Limonov. Author and subject had first met in the early 1980s, Carrère writes in the book’s prologue, at a time when Limonov’s autobiographical novel It’s Me, Eddie had begun to attract attention in international literary circles. In the pages that immediately follow, Carrère sketches Limonov’s life since then, both as a writer and, increasingly, as someone who made political decisions that appalled many on the left and center. In the 1990s, he traveled to fight in the Balkans on behalf of Serbia; he made ominous comments about Gorbachev; and he founded a Russian political party whose name echoed a century’s totalitarian nightmares: the National Bolshevik Party.

Because he is a humanist, Carrère is appalled by this behavior, and because he is a humanist, Carrère seeks to understand it. Running in the background for much of Limonov is Carrère’s own intellectual history: the son of a mother whose field of study was the Soviet Union, and the cousin of a journalist who was murdered after investigating corruption in post-Soviet society. In other words, he is far from a disinterested party, and his familiarity with this milieu is greater than one might assume. And the end result is a portrait of ugliness: Limonov’s early association with thugs and rapists as he came of age; his growing interest in the literary scene, even as a certain type of violence remained appealing; his move to New York, then to Paris; and, eventually, his return to Russia.

In the midst of this, the existence of this book raises a question of sympathy: while there may have once been an element of the underdog to Limonov’s public persona, any vestiges of that were likely drained away by the time he was shown on a BBC documentary firing a machine gun from a Serbian position at Sarajevo. Carrère notes that this was more posturing than anything — "the little boy playing the tough guy at the amusement park" — but, earlier, leaves in a significant disclaimer: "Whether Limonov would have been troubled by really shooting at people, and whether he’s actually done it in other circumstances, remain open questions."

Questions like that are a hallmark of Limonov. Carrère sometimes weaves his reaction to information he learns into the narrative — the footage of Limonov shooting, for instance, caused him to stop working on the book for "over a year." Throughout, he sometimes pauses to ruminate over information he’s just learned, and occasionally attempts to piece together whether a certain action was as bad as it may first appear. The nature of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia are one area where this approach is taken, as is the appeal of nostalgia for the Soviet era in Russia. Carrère’s thoughts on the latter are clarifying, even if they are far from reassuring.

Throughout the book, he follows his subject closely. The approach is very novelistic, and Carrère has worked in both forms. In a 2013 interview in The Paris Review, Carrère described his methods:

...a novel is fictional, with imaginary characters and events. If you ignore that criterion, then obviously, my books are novels. They are novelistic constructions in which I make use of all kinds of novelistic devices, in which I strive to constantly sustain the reader’s interest, to create fear, pity, identification, suspense, and the yearning to keep turning the pages.

Carrère’s focus here is on the dual evolution of Limonov’s inner life and public face, and his methods are largely based around recounting events and letting the reader draw their own conclusions than aiming for analysis. Those looking for a more specifically literary take on Limonov would do well to read an excellent Keith Gessen piece on Limonov from 2003, which also examines Limonov’s shift towards fascism in the light of his writings, and concisely makes the argument that his fondness for political agitation has come at the detriment of his considerable skills as a writer. Gessen also identifies an antisocial aspect of Limonov’s writing that seems to prefigure Limonov’s political maneuvers. Those seeking a more ground-level view of the National Bolshevik Party may want to read Valery Panyushkin’s Twelve Who Don’t Agree, a book about contemporary Russian protest movements from all over the political spectrum, where Limonov’s organization makes a disquieting appearance.

It isn’t until almost three-quarters of the way through the book that Carrère makes a reference to Yukio Mishima. Mishima, the post-war Japanese novelist, embraced a nationalistic philosophy, started a paramilitary group, and ended up committing suicide after a failed attempt to take over a military base in 1970. There’s something deeply compelling about the blend of radical politics and raw literary skills; at the same time, the inherent volatility of that combination can leave narratives like this one reading as cautionary tales. Carrère's book is a compelling character study and a portrait of a nation in flux. Whether it will inspire empathy or contempt for its subject — or both — will depend on the reader, an outcome this work seems designed to anticipate.


Just as Emmanuel Carrère’s earlier book «The Adversary» was an «In Cold Blood»-style «nonfiction novel» about a man who murders his wife, children and parents, so his latest, «Limonov», might be called a novelized biography. While tracking the amazing, improbable life of Ukrainian writer, adventurer and would-be revolutionary Eduard Limonov, the book interweaves a social and political history of post-Stalinist Russia, chunks of Carrère’s autobiography and a hodgepodge of reflections on art, sex, ambition, the punk aesthetic, fascism, mysticism and old age.

Because Carrère — celebrated in France as a journalist, screenwriter and novelist — possesses such an intimately engaging narrative voice, «Limonov» feels almost nonchalant yet is, in fact, quite artfully orchestrated and completely riveting. The first sentence of John Lambert’s superb English translation immediately hooks the reader: «Until Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in her elevator on October 7, 2006, only those who had been closely watching the Chechen wars knew the name of this courageous journalist and declared opponent of Vladimir Putin’s politics».

Asked to write a magazine piece about Politkovskaya’s life, Carrère first visits the opposition newspaper where she worked, and in one sentence he captures its forlorn hopelessness: «The offices were tiny, poorly lit, and equipped with old computers». A few days later, he attends the annual memorial service for those who died during the 2002 terrorist siege of the Dubrovka Theater. In the crowd, writes Carrère, «I recognized Limonov».

At that time, Limonov was the leader of the National Bolshevik Party, whose skinhead members marched to reactionary slogans like «Stalin! Beria! Gulag!» A few years earlier, Limonov had supported the brutal Serbs in their war against the equally brutal Croats and Bosnians. He’d also spent time in Russian prisons for alleged terrorist activities. Nonetheless, Limonov’s books, such as «Diary of a Loser», were bestsellers, and his sexy young wife was the star of a Russian soap opera. Still vigorous and energetic in his late 60s, with a steel-trap memory, a wispy goatee and a hard, muscular frame, he resembled the rare-book scout played by Johnny Depp in «The Ninth Gate». Or Trotsky.

But, as Carrère tells us, the arch-nationalist Limonov had had many other lives before that of «fighter and professional revolutionary». The son of a low-ranking officer in the secret police, he was born in 1943 and grew up in the town of Kharkov yearning to be famous. Early on, the boy concluded that «there are two kinds of people, those you can hit and those you can’t — not because they’re stronger or better trained, but because they’re ready to kill. That’s the secret, the only one». As Carrère writes: «He will become someone you don’t hit because you know he can kill».

Nonetheless, there’s more to young Eddie than ruthlessness, iron self-control and an ability to down vast amounts of vodka. For instance, he composes prize-winning poetry, dresses like a mod dandy and, to pay the bills, works as a talented, self-taught tailor. When he moves to Moscow in 1967, however, Limonov meets a «lanky twenty-year-old brunette dressed in a leather miniskirt». The gorgeous Tanya beds him, but she shares her favors with other men, and so one night — crazed with jealousy and Russian despair — Limonov slits his wrists on her doorstep. Naturally, Tanya is deeply impressed by this gesture, and the pair soon marry, becoming the Scott and Zelda of the Soviet glam scene of the 1970s.

Still, Limonov the writer resents all the attention paid to poet Joseph Brodsky and novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As Carrère remarks, «the only living legend that interests him is himself». When an opportunity arises to emigrate to the West, the handsome couple seize it, and in 1975 arrive in New York.

For a while, they are feted and petted by the local Russophiles, notably Alexander Liberman, artistic director of Conde Nast, and his wife, Tatiana. But soon Limonov is working for a depressing Russian-language newspaper, and Tanya is just another failed would-be model — as well as the plaything of a photographer heavily into sadomasochism. One day Limonov comes back to their apartment, and his beautiful wife is gone.

Broken-hearted, the youthful-looking 33-year-old decides to give up women in favor of men. He has sex with vagrants in parks, lives in a squalid hotel and spends his days working on «It’s Me, Eddie», the first in a series of autobiographical books. No American publisher wants it.

Following this gay interlude, Limonov next becomes the lover of a housemaid and, after a while, her rich employer’s butler. As it happens, he turns out to be the perfect servant — trustworthy, obsequious and polite. But as he later reveals in «His Butler’s Story», when left alone, he would drink his boss’s best champagne and bring in hookers for romps in the master bedroom. Then, unexpectedly, everything changes again: «It’s Me, Eddie» is published in France under the provocative title «The Russian Poet Prefers Big Blacks». Limonov moves to Paris, where he finds himself an acclaimed writer, a minor celebrity.

At this point, Carrère opens up about his own privileged and often unhappy youth. Compared with Limonov, «I felt that I was made of dull and mediocre stuff, and that I was doomed in this world to play the role of a walk-on, and a bitter, envious walk-on at that». Fortunately, Carrère eventually recognizes, in the words of a Buddhist sutra, that «a man who judges himself superior, inferior, or even equal to another does not understand reality».

Unlike most of the Western world, the Paris-based Limonov doesn’t welcome perestroika. Why? Because it implies that 70 years of Russian history were nothing but a mistake and a nightmare, thus denigrating the millions of ordinary people who worked and sacrificed for a noble idea. Still, Limonov’s writing does become available in the Soviet Union. As result, when stopping in Belgrade on a book tour in the late 1980s, the celebrated author is invited to visit the recently liberated — that is, demolished — city of Vukovar. Like Gabriele D’Annunzio, T.E. Lawrence and other writers, Limonov is thrilled by this glimpse of war; Soon he throws himself into the Serbian cause, much to the consternation of his Parisian friends. The Johnny Rotten of Russian literature appears to have joined the fascist thugs. But, to use one of Carrère’s catch phrases, «Things are more complicated than they seem».

After moving back to Russia permanently in the 1990s, Limonov reinvents himself once more, this time as a leading ultra-nationalist. He even publishes an incendiary newspaper called Limonka, «The Grenade». But in the wide-open Wild West Russia of those Yeltsin years, Limonov and his National Bolshevik Party are no match for the ruthless multibillionaires who now pull the strings. For a while, however, freedom thrives despite political and financial chaos — until a former taxi driver named Vladimir Putin comes to power.

One man in his time plays many parts, and Eduard Limonov — now in his 70s — isn’t off the stage yet. Whatever you think of his actions and beliefs, Limonov has lived faithfully by the rule of «no hypocrisy, no embarrassment, no excuses». It’s been a spectacular roller coaster life, and Emmanuel Carrère has turned it into an equally spectacular book.


Писатель и политик Эдуард Лимонов — о том, когда Харьков и Одесса присоединятся к Донецку и Луганску.

На фоне яростной борьбы столиц Донбасса — Донецка и Луганска — за свою независимость от Киева странно немощными выглядят Харьков и Одесса, два крупнейших города следующие после Киева по численности населения на той территории, которую всё ещё называют Украиной.

Но, видимо, называют последний год.

Казалось бы, такие города, далеко превосходящие бледный крестьянский какой-то Киев, города с такими культурными мощными традициями, с многочисленной интеллигенцией, и нате вам! Позволили захватить себя и оккупировать власти, несущей всего лишь примитивный западенский национализм образца окончания Второй мировой войны.

Это Харьков-то и Одесса!

Насмешливые, высокомерные, с высоты своего интеллектуализма глядевшие на сельскохозяйственный запад Украины, который им достался словно в нагрузку, бессмысленным довеском.

Как же так?!

Во-первых, Харьков в значительной степени обескровила Россия, Москва и Ленинград, куда все мы бежали, как в Париж, из Харькова. И я, грешный, тоже сбежал в далёком 1967 году. То есть талантливые и страстные садились в поезд Харьков–Москва и утром уже выходили из переходов Курского вокзала, чтобы начать новую жизнь. Москва и Питер выкачали таланты и организаторов в нескольких поколениях.

Одессу обескровили не только Москва и Ленинград, но также Израиль. Я лично абсолютно уверен, что немало общественных авторитетов, которые ой как пригодились бы в противостоянии с задрипанным западенским национализмом, укатили в последние несколько десятков лет в истинные столицы нашей Родины — в Москву и Питер. Ну и в Израиль из Одессы: из Харькова тоже туда ехали, но из Одессы валили валом.

Кстати, то обстоятельство, что карьеристы, выскочки, таланты — всё самое энергичное, что появлялось в южной провинции, бежало не в Киев, — ещё одно неоспоримое, непобиваемое, несокрушимое доказательство того факта, что столицей той территории, которую называли Украиной, никогда не был Киев.

Это всё было, во-первых.

Во-вторых, националистическая, порождённая майданом власть правильно определила важность Харькова и Одессы для себя и в первые же буквально дни после своей революции в Киеве 22 февраля послала туда оккупационные экспедиции.

Никакого серьёзного противодействия зарвавшемуся хулиганью с майдана (как-никак но хулиганьё отстояло на майдане целых четыре зимних месяца и многому научилось) харьковчане оказать не смогли.

В те дни харьковская администрация несколько раз переходила из рук в руки, и присланные из Киева на самом деле вполне жалкие в сравнении с полуторамиллионным городом, какие-то пара сотен правосеков и членов нацгвардии всё же имели преимущество благодаря опыту майдана, как я уже отметил.

Пара сотен пришельцев сумели не только отстоять важный символический объект — здание обладминистрации, но и препятствовать захвату оружейных комнат в отделениях милиции, который полным ходом уже шёл в Донбассе.

На Донбасс киевская власть просто не обратила внимания. Ошибочно не ожидала такой прыти от, как она их презрительно именовала и именует, «ватников».

На самом деле же донецкие ребята оказались весной 2014 года более революционной силой, чем горожане Одессы и Харькова. Простые, они особенно не мудрствовали лукаво, они просто и элементарно разгневались. А ну-ка вспомним знаменитый визит «Правого сектора» в Луганск, когда жалкой кучкой оккупанты жались к автобусам и только милиция спасла их от неминуемой расправы. Вспомним, как, страшно ругаясь, донецкие парни поставили их на колени.

В Одессе и Харькове овладеть ситуацией, одесситам и харьковчанам помешало, грубо говоря, их воспитание и образование. Слишком «умными» они оказались для мордобоя.

Ещё одна причина, почему Харьков не впал в ярость ещё весной, — это ужасающая близость России. В тени России, в 40 минутах от границы, харьковчане чувствовали себя в безопасности.

Оказалось, что напрасно они чувствовали себя в безопасности.

Теперь о харьковчанах, об их характере.

Мне попалось на глаза интервью харьковских писателей фантастов Яны Боцман и Дмитрия Гордиевского — они известны под псевдонимом Александр Зорич.

Я их с удовольствием процитирую.

Яна говорит так: «Урождённые харьковчане по своему характеру нечто вроде толкиеновских хоббитов. Сдержанные, хозяйственные, сосредоточенные на своём родном, на профессиональном (...) Харьковчанину ближе что-то строить, мастерить, производить — самолёты, танки, ядерные реакторы.

Я заметила, харьковчане в среднем не очень артистичны, они равнодушны к аффектам. Пафос разрушения харьковчанам крайне не близок во всех формах. Снос же памятника Ленину на площади Свободы — это всё то, чего не любят харьковчане, «в одном флаконе». Это разрушение. Ненависть, Аффект, Несовременность. Невоздержанность, Грубость, Скверное воспитание».

Дмитрий: «Замечу также, что право силы есть право силы. Если в феврале в защиту памятника вышла целая когорта неравнодушных харьковчан, то в конце сентября — единицы. Этому способствовало проведенное в Харькове за день до сноса памятника массовое задержание коммунистов и представителей других левых сил. Естественно, что в такой обстановке до прямого гражданского противостояния у памятника дело уже дойти не могло. Некому было противостоять».

Яна: «Начать с того, что за симпатии к Новороссии в Харькове можно просто взять да и сесть в тюрьму. Естественно (...) люди не спешат делиться своими симпатиями к армии Новороссии с посторонними людьми. Люди молчат. Люди разговаривают на такие темы только с теми, кому полностью доверяют. Однако в общественных ситуациях у многих гневно горят глаза. Этот блеск ни с чем не спутаешь».

Дмитрий: «Я бы сказал, что наиболее сильные пророссийские настроения имели место в марте и апреле. А может, правильнее сказать — не «имели место», а публично демонстрировались. Летом эти настроения сменились растерянностью, а осенью идёт нарастание общей, что ли, депрессии».

Яна: «Хоббиты, они воевать не любят. Хотя когда, если простонародно выразиться, «припрёт», они воюют, и хорошо».

Оккупированные хоббиты с горящими гневными глазами долго так не протянут. Они взорвутся, восстанут. Такие «умные» города долго держать под пятой своей задрипанной идеологии Киеву не удастся.

Харьковчанам, ну и одесситам тоже, следует на время стать проще, уподобиться их донецким более простым, но зато и героическим братьям.

Ответить взрывами гнева на унижения.


Эдуард Лимонов о предвыборных лозунгах украинских политиков.

Время от времени появляется уверенность, что они там, в Киеве, посходили с ума, коллективно. Даже если делать им скидку на то, что они пришли к власти на киевской площади в дыму горящих шин и при свете горящих милиционеров.

Ну вот, к примеру, предвыборный плакат кандидатов от партии «Свобода» Левченко и женщины-депутата Фарион (фамилия та ещё, причудливая, не от мира сего, а может от потустороннего, из Ада?):

«Россия должна стать кладбищем!»

И главное, они же, эти двое, выборы выиграть желают, в этом сомнения нет. Следовательно, выпуская такой плакатец с таким текстом, они на определённый успех у совсем отмороженных избирателей рассчитывают.

Значит таковые, кто хотел бы сделать из России кладбище, есть у них там. И немало, Фарион и Левченко предполагают, что достаточное количество, чтобы их избрать депутатами.

Это же не шутки, какие тут шутки!

Опупели совсем.

Потеряли всякую связь с реальностью.

Дубасят по жилым кварталам в Донбассе из стратегического оружия, из чёрт знает каких просто безумных по разрушительности «Точек – У», из «Градов», из «Буков» в белый свет как в копеечку пуляют... Ну, миномёты это почти спички, ничего особенного, кассетные снаряды применяют, фосфорные бомбы...

Кстати а «Буки»-то зачем ? Они же против авиации применяются, чтобы сбивать цели, находящиеся в небе. А у ополченцев авиации, всем известно, от Пентагона до люфтваффе известно, нет. Ходят слухи, что киевские своими «Буками» собирались сбивать российские самолёты. Но что-то не одного не сбили.

Вероятнее всего сбили малайзийский «Боинг», возможно, по ошибке, а возможно, потому что у них чёрные души, но скрывают, что сбили и запад их покрывает. Нидерланды покрывают, и что с них возьмёшь, они в Waffen-SS у Гитлера во множестве усердствовали, голландский корпус насчитывал 75 тысяч человек. Свой свояка видит издалека!

Деловой Яценюк хочет строить стену от России.

Гелетей, кажется, а если не он, то другой киевский псих, предложил подкупить ядерное оружие где-нибудь, чтобы использовать против России. Или создать, я уж не помню в точности историю этой галлюцинации.

Сумасшедших домов для неадекватных национал-революционных лидеров не существует, а жаль. Международного какого-нибудь психдома имени Сербского (ну или имени Зигмунда Фрейда) в Гааге нет. А между тем, дело плохо.

В соседней с нами стране 22 февраля к власти пришли опасные психи.

Если начать думать глубже, то становится понятным, что режим в Киеве вырос из душных грёз дедушек нынешних юных майдановцев, которые грёзы тем дедушкам представали и мерещились в их воняющих портянками и засоленной в бочке капустой, в их схронах в предгорьях Карпат в конце 40-х — начале 50-х годов.

Грёзы были цветными. Представало парубкам шикарное будущее, когда настанет время и будут править на территории Украинской Советской Социалистической Республики, править будут они, вонючие ребята из схронов.

Когда такое счастливое и солнечное время настанет, они выйдут из схронов и по солнечному лучу пойдут в Киев, а затем пойдут к москалям и поубивают всех их там, а Россия таким образом превратится в кладбище, от Калининграда до Владивостока.

А они, счастливые украинские парубки, дети Великой Украины будут мёд пить, вино пить, горилку пить и свинину есть.

И читать друг другу вслух Упанишады, которые их украинские арийские предки написали.


В Истории явно есть место для возвращения прошлого, для рецидива архаичных идей, десятки лет тому назад побеждённых. Сегодняшняя Украина — тому пример.

Когда пару десятков тысяч человек пришли к зданию Верховной Рады в Киеве, вот только когда это было, 15 октября, думаю, я не ошибаюсь, они несли транспаранты «Бандера наш герой!»

А Бандера-то мертвец уже чёрт знает с какого времени.

Они таким образом декларировали, что их герой — мертвяк.

Можно предложить им ещё более мёртвого героя, он тоже где-то там, недалеко, в Карпатах родился и жил. Это известный Влад Дракула.

В следующий раз парубки, идёте к Верховной Раде с транспарантами:

«Дракула — наш герой!»

Впереди Фарион, рядом Ляшко, Тягнибок, Ярош...

Поневоле начинаешь думать о происхождении западенских фамилий. Предки Тягнибока, вероятнее всего, раскалёнными щипцами выдирали рёбра попавшим в плен. Предки Яроша были одержимы яростью. Предки Ляшко? Лях — поляк по-украински, но может не только поляк, но и тот кто ноги отрубал по ляжки, а?

Про Фарион даже и думать страшно. Её предки вешали на фонарях москалей, поляков и юд, то есть евреев?

Но даже и при полном отсутствии фантазии, предположим, у нас её нет, мы прозаичные реалисты, нам понятно, каких опасных соседушек нам бог послал. Вот не повезло!

И что ещё они выкинут, эти Фарионы с Тягнибоками, а?


I had a typical first experience with famed Russian emigre-turned auteur-turned neo-fascist revolutionary Edward Limonov: I misunderstood him.

Everybody misunderstands Edward at least once. Usually, they underestimate this slight, bearded man with the mild manners.

I knew him in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he wrote a column for the eXile, a punk/anarchist English-language paper Mark Ames and I edited in Moscow. (He'd been brought in by Ames, who was a fan.) Edward back then was the chief of an aesthetically cool but literarily tedious revolutionary rag called Limonka.

He was also the would-be leader of a would-be rightist revolutionary group called the National-Bolsheviki. His few hundred bomber-jacketed followers were known as the «Nats-Bols», which they gleefully pronounced «Nuts-Balls».

I had Edward figured wrong. I thought he was a clown-memoirist who was using real-world stunts to capture the attention of the literary community. But he ended up doing real time for his revolutionary «acts», which included a real takeover of a military base in Latvia using fake grenades (called, appropriately, «Limonki» in Russian). What was he up to? You could never tell with Edward.

Some of his books, like the stunning diary of his poverty-stricken youth in Ukraine, Podrostok Savenko («Diary of a Russian Punk»), are full of gorgeously raw, painful, true writing that he clearly suffered over. Other books he just flat-out mailed in. And in the same way, sometimes he really was a revolutionary, and sometimes he appeared to be playing at it — it was hard to tell.

All of these thoughts came rushing back when I read the new biography of Edward, Limonov, by French author and filmmaker Emmanuel Carrere, translated by John Lambert.

It's a sweeping account of Edward's unmistakably epic life, from the cruelty and poverty of his youth in Ukraine, to his conquest of the Western literary scene as an emigre writer in the 1980s, and finally to his return to Russia first as the most minor of rightist revolutionaries, then as a prisoner (locked up in the worst Russian prisons for faux-fomenting real revolution, or really fomenting faux revolution — it's hard to explain). The last chapter involves his bizarre re-emergence as a mainstream political figure, playing at being a respectable supporter of peaceful change.

Carrere begins by being dazzled by the Limonov of the '80s, a self-styled punk writer who called Johnny Rotten a hero and «didn't think twice about calling Solzhenitsyn an old fart».

He ends up puzzled to see the punk hero sharing a stage with chess champion Garry Kasparov as a titular leader of «Drugaya Rossiya» (Another Russia), a polite, socially acceptable, Orange Revolution-style mainstream movement that the rhetorically bomb-tossing Edward of the '90s would have dismissed as a pathetic bourgeois affectation.

Carrere wonders: What could Limonov be thinking? «Does it amuse him», he writes, «the outlaw, the mad dog, to play the virtuous Democrat?» He spends the rest of the book trying to answer the question: Is this last part the act? Or was it the earlier part?

Carrere struggles with that theme throughout, and in the end toys with a horrifying surprise conclusion: Limonov is above all else a failure. «Edik» played his cards dramatically right at times (his truly steely, heroic endurance of Russian prison life made even his harshest critics take note), and very wrong at others. (Fighting and presumably killing with the Serbs in their ethnic massacres of the '90s? Really?)

But in the end, Limonov did not take over Russia. He became neither the next Lenin (his '90s ambition) nor the next Vaclav Havel (his 21st-century ambition), but is instead living out his days in his ultimate version of hell, if one goes by the punked-out ethos of his early books: approaching his senior years as a respectable quasi-celebrity and defender of virtue, sustained by the comforts of — of all things — family (well, his two children).

Edward Limonov is one of the most amazing people on Earth, the author of a few truly great books, a man who has lived a fuller life than any 10 of your most interesting friends combined. That would be more than enough, for someone who was only out to do just that. But for someone who sincerely wanted to rule over hundreds of millions, change the very lines on the map of the world, perhaps die gloriously in battle, and take a seat next to Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky upon his death — not so much.

Deep down, what does Edward want? We'll never know, and Carrere doesn't pretend to, either. Which makes his book as fascinating as its subject.
Opposition leader Eduard Limonov leads his supporters as they take to the streets to mark May Day in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Thousands of Communists, members of Russia's main political parties and opposition activists staged competing m


Book review: Emmanuel Carrère’s ‘Limonov: The outrageous adventures of the radical Soviet poet’

The book opens with a quote by Vladimir Putin: “Whoever wants the Soviet Union back has no brain. Whoever doesn’t miss it has no heart.” And then, a murder: The journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of the Russian president, is found dead. A memorial service is held in Moscow. It is here that we encounter the protagonist of this enchanting book: the aging Russian dissident Eduard Limonov.

Carrère, a French writer and journalist, had known Limonov in the ’80s, in Paris, where Limonov—a hard-drinking, skirt-chasing novelist and Soviet émigré—was popular among France’s intellectual elite. But then things went horribly wrong. In the ’90s, a BBC documentary captured him attacking the city of Sarajevo, under the command of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadžic. He returned to Russia to found the National Bolshevik Party: a fascist movement whose lackeys adopt the shaved heads and raised-arm salute of their German neo-Nazi forebears.

How did all this come to be? Carrère begins in the beginning, with Limonov’s birth in Second World War-era Ukraine. The ensuing life story, told chronologically, is so wildly implausible, it would appear absurd—if it weren’t entirely true. We get to know Limonov as an anti-establishment poet in Ukraine, a shadowy rebel in Moscow, a famous novelist in Paris, a millionaire’s butler in Manhattan, and a hero to Soviet nostalgics in Central Asia. We watch him party with Salvador Dali, Susan Sontag and Andy Warhol in New York—and spend months in a dreary Russian jail (“something to do with arms trafficking and an attempted coup in Kazakhstan,” in Carrère’s words). Along the way are gaggles of love affairs: with soap opera actresses, heavy-bottomed bookkeepers and, once, a gay man in an empty park.

With considerable space devoted to the revolutions of 1989, the book will surely find an eager audience with those watching events in the former Soviet Union with unease. But it’s also a rip-roaringly fun read. In his writing, Carrère—described by the Guardian as “the most important French writer you’ve never heard of”—is something of a Parisian Truman Capote. He describes this book as a “non-fiction novel,” for, while its stories are rooted in fact, they are also heavily stylized.

In the final pages, he travels to Russia to interview a rather disinterested Limonov, who asks why the author has chosen to write his biography. Carrère answers that he finds Limonov’s story “fascinating.” Limonov, in turn, only shrugs—and declares that he has lived “a s–tty life.”


Eduard Limonov cuts a colourful figure in the post-Soviet landscape. A self-made man, he grew up in post-war Kharkov, wrote poetry and burgled shops as a teenager, went to Moscow in search of literary fame, emigrated to the US, slummed it in New York, became the darling of Parisian intellectual circles, and fought in the Balkans on the side of a Serbian militia before returning to Russia in the early 1990s to found the National Bolshevik Party, a movement that counted Lenin, Mishima and the Baader-Meinhof gang among its heroes and was banned for its extremism. Since 2010 Limonov has led The Other Russia, a non-registered opposition party, and continues to write poetry and prose, including journalism — of which more later.

Most of Limonov's life has been documented in his own books, the best-known of which is his brave, grungy 1979 debut It's Me, Eddie, a fictionalised memoir of his life in America. The French author Emmanuel Carrère, fascinated by the Russian punk turned politician, has collated the various bits of his subject's adventurous life in what he calls a novel (for reasons — ignoring the practicalities of contemporary publishing — that remain unclear). Based on interviews with Limonov and people who know him, the book draws heavily on the protagonist's prose. However, instead of quoting from it, Carrère retells stories already familiar to Limonov's readers. His version is full of sanitised passages like this: "It's Edichka, the Russian poet who costs you $278 a month, dear American taxpayers, and who cordially despises you." Limonov himself put it much better: "I live off your labour: you pay taxes and I don't do shit. . . . What, you don't like me? You don't want to pay? It's not much — 278 dollars a month. You don't want to pay. Well then why the fuck did you get me to come here, me and a whole crowd of Jews?"

Not terribly impressed by Limonov the writer, Carrère gushes: "But what a life! What energy!" He admits that his own is far less exciting. Another Frenchman is quoted in the book as saying that in the USSR, "life is real: serious, adult, as weighty as it should be", a statement Carrère may not fully subscribe to, although he clearly thinks of his subject as a real man, strong, independent and mature. Some of Limonov's exploits corroborate this view, for instance when we learn about his time in prison, where he was sent in 2001 on charges of terrorism, fabricated by the FSB. However, the image of a serious adult leading a group of like-minded individuals fades when we are told about the "bunker" where the National Bolsheviks hang out, its walls adorned with "posters and paintings [of] Stalin, Bruce Lee, the Velvet Underground and Nico, and Limonov in a Red Army officer's uniform". Carrère goes out of his way to paint a sympathetic portrait of his hero; reluctant to use the word "neofascist", he tries to reason with the reader: "Things are more complicated than they seem."

The same refrain is repeated in the chapter about Limonov's most notorious escapade — as a volunteer in a Serbian unit under the command of a war criminal — where Carrère tries to analyse the actions of an adventurer entrusted with a machine-gun. A scene in which Limonov talks with "Dr Radovan Karadžić, psychiatrist and poet, leader of Bosnian Serbs", taken from a BBC documentary, ends with Limonov emptying a magazine in the direction of Sarajevo. Carrère's admiration is stronger than his revulsion: Limonov with the gun may look like "a child encouraged by the adults' laughter", but the author still doesn't think him "either vile or a liar".

Carrère positions his book not as a lightly fictionalised biography (it's a novel, remember) but as a commentary on "all our history since the end of World War II". Russia is at the centre of the author's attention, and his story of the turbulent events of the past two decades is well-researched and informative, especially in the chapter describing the 1993 putsch. Writing about more recent developments, Carrère looks at the oligarchs running the country with disgust, as befits a Western liberal, which doesn't dispel his belief that "there are worse things than Putin-style totalitarianism".

Carrère's strongest suit is irony, to which he occasionally adds a measure of vitriol, as in this passage about Limonov's son: "The boy's called Bogdan, in honor of his Serbian years. I think that Bogdan got off lightly: he could have been called Radovan or Ratko." Recounting the activist's attempts to raise money for his party, the author describes Limonov's contacts as "timid fascists [who] have enough trouble sustaining their own little boutiques". The irony grows subtler when Limonov, asked in 1993 what he does in Russia, says: "I'm getting ready to seize power."

The book ends in 2009, when Carrère finds his interviewee unresponsive and decides to make do with what he's got. The latest turn in Limonov's writing career — a regular column in Izvestia, the mouthpiece of Russian officialdom — serves as a postscript to the book about a man whose most endearing trait, in the eyes of his novelist-biographer, is always being on the side of the underdog. This is Limonov's reaction to a protest held in Moscow in March 2014 against Russia's acts of aggression towards Ukraine: "My creative imagination pictured [the protesters] as a collective of prostitutes, prepared for any humiliation because they find pleasure in it." His piece, reeking of imperial megalomania, makes you feel nostalgic for the days when the word "prostitute" didn't have a purely negative meaning to Limonov. Heartbroken after his wife leaves him, the protagonist of It's Me, Eddie says: "There was me hoping, thinking: we'd be whores, swashbucklers, prostitutes, whoever — but still together throughout life."

I saw Limonov at a book festival in Moscow four years ago. He arrived flanked by several bodyguards and read some of his recent poems — very good, fresh and energetic, delivered with such gusto it was hard to believe the author was in his late sixties. Poetry aside, comparing Limonov's political persona today with his younger self is rather depressing. In his 1977 book, Diary of a Loser, the young rebel was sure that even in the old age he would be able "to be a lone wolf . . . and cry out in a hoarse voice: Kill 'em! . . . Those who are not with us are against us!" Three and a half decades later, Limonov prefers to play it safe on the side of Putin's big battalions.


The ‘Johnny Rotten of literature’ morphs into a Russian ultra-nationalist hoping to overthrow Yeltsin.

Sometime in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Carrère came across a memoir by the Russian writer and political agitator Eduard Limonov. The book, about the author’s exploits as a penniless bohemian on the streets of New York City in the 1970s, carried the suggestive title “The Russian Poet Prefers Big Blacks.” It had been a gift to Mr. Carrère’s mother, a celebrated French historian, and it bore the author’s inscription: “from the Johnny Rotten of literature.”

Carrère mère dismissed the book out of hand (“boring and pornographic,” she pronounced it), but her son, an aspiring writer himself—and today one of France’s most acclaimed authors—was more impressionable. He was struck by the crude energy of the writing, with its graphically itemized sexual escapades involving both women and men and its sneering, punk-rock mannerisms. As the decades passed, he kept stumbling across Mr. Limonov’s name. The Russian was internationally denounced for fighting with the Serbian paramilitary during the Bosnian War. Back home, he founded a neo-fascist political party, was thrown into prison by Vladimir Putin and, once released, assumed the mantle of a pro-democracy dissident.

With “Limonov” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 340 pages, $30), Mr. Carrère attempts to make some kind of sense of this improbable curriculum vitae. His addictively interesting narrative (nimbly translated by John Lambert) goes back to Mr. Limonov’s youth in postwar Ukraine, where he cultivated his “writer-hoodlum” guise—part vagabond-poet, part two-bit thug who carried “a switchblade in his pocket with a blade longer than his palm is wide.” From Kharkov, he migrates to Moscow’s literary underground and then, in 1974, procures an exit visa and moves to New York.

This was not political exile, as such emigration was for Mr. Limonov’s more talented and better known literary rivals Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Joseph Brodsky. Mr. Carrère argues that, following the pattern that would define his life, Mr. Limonov was motivated by nothing more than a thirst for adventure and an opportunistic pursuit of fame: “The only life worthy of him is the life of the hero; he wants the whole world to admire him.” When he instead hits the skids in New York, living in flophouses and eventually taking work as a butler on Long Island, he converts the experience into the chronicles of noble squalor and social rebellion that make him a cult figure for “all the hate-filled losers on the planet.”

Mr. Limonov calls his books fictional memoirs. Similarly, Mr. Carrère’s work is a fictional biography (or, as the author prefers to think of it, a nonfiction novel). Though grounded in reportage, “Limonov” embellishes scenes and projects itself into the thoughts of real figures in ways impermissible in straight nonfiction. Mr. Carrère’s trademark is his use of the first-person singular; he frequently inserts autobiographical accounts of his family life, his writing career or his spiritual leanings into the narrative, even when they have only minimal connection to the story. Yet the storytelling in “Limonov” is fast-paced and full of zest, consciously modeled on the swashbuckling novels of Dumas that both Messrs. Limonov and Carrère hungrily read as a child.

The book grows in both excitement and absurdity as it charts Mr. Limonov’s return to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and his bizarre transformation into an ultranationalist. His National Bolshevik Party makes bedfellows of anti-Semitic extremists, counterculture artists and other social misfits, and, for a time during Boris Yeltsin’s incompetent presidency, Mr. Limonov believes he can seize power. Mr. Carrère presents him as a kind of farcical exemplum of a new Russia run by drunks and gangsters—except that he loses out again, this time to Vladimir Putin, who trumps him in brutality and demagoguery just as Brodsky once one-upped him in literary renown. Even when it comes to immoral self-interest, Mr. Limonov is second-best, a failure and a loser. In other words, Mr. Carrère suggests, a hero of our time.

The first line of Israeli writer Assaf Gavron’s “The Hilltop” (Scribner, 448 pages, $26) is biblical: “In the beginning were the fields.” And on those fields, situated on a picturesque height somewhere in the West Bank, a former bookkeeper named Othniel Assis establishes a small farm. And, lo, soon other Jews come to reside there, and it expands into an unofficial settlement of trailer homes: “Some were lovers of the Land of Israel; others were lovers of serenity and nature; still others, lovers of low costs.” Zionist organizations donate power generators. Soldiers are sent to stand guard. Thus is the illegal outpost Ma’aleh Hermesh C. created.

But even though Mr. Gavron frames the resulting land dispute as a conflict as old as Genesis, his novel is brilliantly attuned to the madhouse complexities of the current settlement crisis. “The Hilltop” introduces an enormous cast of characters, all of whom seem to be operating at cross-purposes: left-wing protesters, muckraking journalists, wealthy American Zionists, the Palestinians in the adjacent village, foreign entrepreneurs interested in the region’s olive trees and harried government officials trying to evacuate the outpost without sparking an international incident. The parties are so numerous that they sometimes form strange alliances—when the government tries to run a wall through Ma’aleh Hermesh C. and the olive grove, Jews and Palestinians team up to stop the bulldozers.

Mr. Gavron focuses large parts of his story on two 40-something brothers, Gabi and Roni Kupper, each of whom has bottomed out and come to the settlement seeking renewal (spiritual for Gabi, economic for Roni). “The Hilltop” flashes back to their upbringing and adult troubles, but though these sections are sensitively written (and helped by Steven Cohen’s brisk, readable translation), their somber tone doesn’t match the sly satire and powder-keg tension of the scenes in the settlement. Mr. Gavron is at his best when confronting what is, in essence, an ancient contest over the ownership of lawless desert land. “That’s what’s so great about the territories,” Roni says. “There are no rules, you can make them up as you go along.” The superbly orchestrated chaos that results makes this an indispensable novel of, as one character dubs it, the “Wild West Bank.”


На этой неделе Сербия празднует 70-летие освобождения Белграда от фашистских захватчиков. А на Украине националисты отмечают годовщину создания Украинской повстанческой армии, воевавшей на стороне гитлеровской Германии. Президент Порошенко перенес День защитника Отечества, прировняв бандеровцев к воинам Великой Отечественной. Этого радикалам показалось мало. Факельные шествия закончились массовыми драками и погромами. Запад предпочел не замечать и промолчал. Как отметил Путин, к сожалению, действия вакцины от нацистского вируса, выработанной во время Нюрнбергского процесса, ослабевает.
Emmanuel Carrère LIMONOV / translator: John Lambert // London: «Allen Lane», 2014, paperback, 340 p., ISBN: 978-1-846-14820-0

This uncorrected advance proof is made available on a confidential basis and may not be sold or otherwise circulated. The appearance and contents of this proof may not resemble the finished book and under no circumstances may it or any of its contents be reproduced before publication of the finished book without the publisher’s consent.

Copyright © Emmanuel Carrere 2014
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
Оригинал взят у limonov_eduard в "Люси" от Люка Бессона


Посмотрел фильм Люка Бессона «Люси», вчера.

Несмотря на 10 утра в воскресенье зал был полон. Молва раструбила, что этот фильм каждый обязан посмотреть. Ну типа, мы же современные люди.

Вот и я сподобился.

Стоят у модного отеля, я не чётко понял где, в Южной Корее, скорее всего, в Сеуле, видимо, простенькая девка блондинка и рыхлый европейский молодой человек в дурацкой шляпе. Они неделю пробыли вместе.

Она собирается домой, у неё какие-то экзамены, а он упрашивает её сделать для него простую вещь, войти в отель и передать металлический атташе-кейс какому-то корейцу.

Девка (Скарлетт Йоханссон) не хочет, но рыхлый заклацывает на её запястье наручник с атташе-кейсом и ей деваться некуда. Приходится идти в отель, к ресепшэн.

В лобби отеля настроение меняется. Все оказываются подозрительными. К ней идут здоровенные мафиозные корейские молодчики.

Ну, и поехали. Подымаются на лифте в номер, где всё обильно забрызгано кровью. Короче, царит обстановка как в фильмах Тарантино. Появляется жуткий босс, кореец, конечно же, и убивает направо и налево, морда забрызгана кровью.

Оказалось, в атташе-кейсе она доставила некий новый голубого цвета в кристаллах наркотик, какое-то количество пакетов.

Затем Скарлетт просыпается и обнаруживает, что ей сделали операцию, врезали в живот пакет с синими кристалликами. Кроме неё в животы троих или четверых европейцев также врезаны по такому же пакету.

И всё это пока затравка. Вам бросили крючок, чтобы вы заглотнули его, поверив, что фильм про наркотики.

На самом деле нет, речь идёт в фильме о расширении возможностей разума.

Ведь на афише вместе с физиономией Скарлетт Йоханссен сказано: «Люди используют лишь 10% своего мозга, сегодня ей станут доступны все 100 %».

Так оно и выходит, только произошло случайно. В тюрьме (как она туда попала, я лично не уследил) её жестоко избивают, в результате чего пакет с голубыми кристаллами в её животе разрывается и вот тогда и происходит нарастание возможностей её мозга.

Ей становятся доступны всё большие возможности и видны тайны человека и планеты, но у неё всего сутки на все эти удивительные открытия.

Возможности её таковы, что она взглядом усыпляет десятки преследователей и патроны из пистолетов вываливаются.

Научная часть фильма представлена чернокожим учёным, его играет впечатляющий Морган Фриман. Полицейская часть фильма — великолепный и правдоподобный французский «ажан» арабского происхождения, исполняет Амр Вакид. У него всё как надо — щетина, невозмутимая жестокость, всё на месте, помню таких по Франции.

Что сказать в общем.

Киноиндустрия честно пытается понять кто мы, человечество, откуда пришли и куда идём. Недавно был фильм «Прометей», пытавшийся разобраться в этом, а в далёком 1982-ом я видел в Венеции фильм под названием «Alerted States», в чём-то родственный «Люси».

Кстати сказать, одна из финальных сцен фильма «Люси», это когда она переносится в толщу времени и встречает прародительницу человечества, косматую полу-обезьяну Люси. Они на мгновение прикасаются указательными пальцами, как Господь касается Адама на фреске Микельанджело, я сам видел эту фреску в Риме в 1974-ом.


«Руслан и Людмила» ушли за четверть миллиона долларов

Прижизненное издание поэмы Пушкина стало главным хитом книжного аукциона.

Вопрос дня: А вам на какие книги никаких денег не жалко?


Эдуард Лимонов, писатель:

— Покупаю современные издания, но ничего ценного, упаси господи, нет. Это делают коллекционеры — особая раса людей. А я ни во что деньги не вкладываю, живу одним днем.

оригинал текста

Limonov par les siens

Héros d’un temps de troubles
par Kira Sapguir

Devenir écrivain est le rêve d’un Français sur trois, selon les statistiques. Et un demi-million de Français âgés de plus de 18 ans, conservent un manuscrit dans un dossier secret. Et à quoi rêvent les auteurs le cœur battant, célèbres ou inconnus ? Aux prix littéraires, bien entendu. Lequel d’entre eux reste insensible aux mots magiques — « Goncourt », « Médicis », "Renaudot", « Fémina », « Décembre » — le splendide quintet couronnant l’olympe des prix de la littérature française ?

Goncourt agricole

« Goncourt »… Ce mot contient tant de choses ! Au seuil de cette moisson automnale de lauriers littéraires, la rumeur et la critique prédisent que cette récompense ira au Limonov d’Emmanuel Carrère, paru en septembre aux éditions POL. L’auteur est un écrivain français connu aux racines russes, lauréat de plusieurs prix prestigieux, y compris le tout récent prix de la Langue Française 2011. Deux de ses romans ont été publiés en Russie, où Carrère se rend sans arrêt et où selon ses propres dires, lui revient « La langue de son enfance émigrée » (Bien qu’il ait en réalité appris la langue de Pouchkine à l’institut de langues et civilisations orientales, département russe). En 2007, cette « résurgence de la langue russe » poussa Carrère à écrire « Un roman russe ». Il y évoquait la collaboration avec les nazis de son grand-père, Georges Zourabichvili — sur lequel ne manqua pas d’éloquence… la propre mère de l’auteur, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, historienne et politologue, secrétaire perpétuelle de l’Académie Française. En 1978 parut sa thèse consacrée à la question nationale en URSS, sous le titre « L’Empire éclaté ». Et « l’évidence invraisemblable » se produisit : grâce à la lecture du surtitre crève-les-yeux Hélène Carrère d’Encausse acquit une célébrité mondiale jusqu’au jour d’aujourd’hui comme « prophétesse de la désintégration de l’URSS ». Que faire ? Les gens n’ont plus le temps de lire — à moins que ce ne soit des journaux.

Son fils Emmanuel marcha sur les traces de sa mère au beau brin de plume. Et il vient d’écrire son Limonov de 500 pages, pressentant le cheval gagnant en abordant ce thème — et c'est loin d'être une malheureuse initiative. Son Limonov trône en tête de gondole des meilleures ventes en librairie.

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Limonov et Carrière d'Encaustique

Il pleut des coups durs

On va encore dire que je suis jaloux, aigri, infréquentable et tutti-quanti, mais à certains moments, le pied ne peut s’empêcher de se crisper dans la godasse pour le coup de latte au train, et je vous assure, il ne s’agit pas de célinisme mal placé. En effet, il se trouve qu’Emmanuel Carrière d’Encaustique vient de pondre une bio d’un de mes plus vieux potes, en l’occurrence Édouard Limonov, sachant qu’il le connaît à peine, l’ayant vu deux fois pendant les quatorze ans qu’Édouard a passé à Paname, et que ses écrits sur le vieux punk bargeot de toutes les Russies n’empêcheraient pas une rombière de Saône-et-Loire de s’endormir sur le chef-d’œuvre, en écoutant Richard Claydermann. Le sieur Encaustique a un style policé — surtout je m’engage pas trop — et son audace la plus ébouriffante, consiste à dire qu’il ne le juge pas !

La dernière fois que j’ai vu Édouard, il y a deux ans à Moscou au mois de juillet, après toutes nos aventures, dont une — en 2001— a failli me faire échouer au goulag ou peu s’en faut, en tout cas une séance que je ne recommanderai à personne avec le FSB, je l’ai salué d’un « Comment ça va vieux pirate ?… » qui lui a donné le titre de son dernier recueil de poésie, Le vieux Pirate.

Bon, pour être tout à fait honnête, il vaut mieux que ce soit Encaustique qui l’ait écrit, sachant qu’avec ses prix littéraires et sa daronne académicienne, le livre a plus de chances d’attirer l’attention que si c’était votre serviteur qui l’avait rédigé — je suis voué aux gémonies pour mes péchés d’insolence face à la tartufferie Phrançaise, et maintenant mondialisée. Néanmoins — et c’est une litote par rapport à la lénifiance d’Encaustique, le fils à maman — je ne sais pas le dire en français : My prose packs a punch !… Il se trouve que je connais Limonade depuis 30 ans — ayant fait sa connaissance en 1981 pour être précis — que je n’ai plus besoin de raconter que je me suis marié en 1985 avec Medvedeva pour qu’elle reste en Phrance avec lui, et que — bien que ne partageant pas ses convictions russo-russes héroïco-tralala — il fait cependant lui aussi, partie de mes amis Antifessebouc !

Dans l’univers de chapelles et de coteries phranco-phrançaises, même si j’écris sur Édouard depuis toujours, ayant remarqué avant tout le monde qu’il s’agissait d’un destin hors-normes, il va de soi que l’oseille et la notoriété vont à Encaustique, qui n’en a pas besoin, vu qu’il est né dedans. Carrière cirée d’avance m’avait du reste contacté il y a quelques années pour avoir des détails sur Édouard — il en savait si peu — avant de se raviser, vu qu’il avait appris sans doute que ses romans à faire pleurer d’ennui ne m’inspiraient qu’indifférence.

Bref, ça n’est pas si grave. On s’y fait. On ne prête qu’aux riches. C’est à dire que les riches se prêtent à eux-mêmes. Une conjoncture tendancielle qui a posé des problèmes sociétaux, ces derniers temps, notamment en Angleterre.


'I've noticed that the Russian media is significantly cutting back the flow of information about what is happening in Donbass', the dissident writer Edward Limonov recorded on LiveJournal on 15 September. 'Apparently there is an order not to destroy the illusion of a continuing truce.' He then listed the number of civilians killed the previous day by Kiev's artillery (twenty), noting the places in eastern Ukraine where there was fighting, the build-up of Kiev's forces at Donetsk airport and the launch of US-led military exercises in the Lviv region. 'So the truce looks like war', he ended, signing off the weblog in his habitual style: 'That was the morning sermon ... I am Edward Limonov.'

Limonov, now in his early seventies, prophesied conflict in Ukraine decades ago. There is a YouTube clip of him in 1992, after the collapse of the USSR, orating in the streets about how nationalism would lead to violence, demanding to know why Crimea, Kharkov and Donbass should belong to Ukraine and what would happen to the Russian-speaking population in the east.

Limonov's real name is Savenko. He was raised in the suburbs of Kharkov (or Kharkiv) in Soviet Ukraine, the only son of an ethnically Russian mother and a father who came from a family of Ukrainian peasants. He is a passionate advocate of the separatists in east Ukraine and their self-proclaimed 'people's republics'. He berates the Kremlin for not offering the rebels greater military and moral support. The goatee-bearded 'guru' enjoys plenty of airtime these days, while the authorities take a milder approach towards the street protests of his young followers. The 'Donbass uprising', as Limonov calls it, has given his public activism a new cause, while placing him at the furthest ideological distance from such pro-Western liberals as Gary Kasparov, with whom, not long ago, he collaborated in opposing Vladimir Putin.

This revival of Limonov's political energies could hardly have been foreseen when Emmanuel Carrère was writing the epilogue to this brilliant biographical 'novel'. 'The historic occasion, assuming he really had one, has passed', Carrère remarked of Limonov's public life. 'He's completely had it.' While he wondered just how his resilient 'hero' would grow old, Carrère felt uneasy at portraying him as a loser: 'I don't like this ending', he wrote, 'and I don't think he'd like it either.'

Since the French publication of Limonov in 2011 (when the book won two prestigious literary prizes), history has contrived an occasion for Limonov to play the hero and shock the West yet again (though he is now too old to participate in the violence he once craved). 'I dream of a violent insurrection', he wrote in Diary of a Loser in 1982, in a passage that Carrère copied into his notebook. Limonov was nearly forty then, a penniless immigrant on the streets of New York. 'Give me a million and I'll spend it on weapons and stage an uprising.'

The timing of the English publication of Limonov is opportune. It is hard to think of a book that presents more perceptively, or more engagingly, the bewildering paradoxes and perversities of Russian political and literary culture over the past half-century. Carrère traces Limonov's story from boyhood and youth in the suburbs of Kharkov (where he first developed his aptitude for fighting, sex, writing and sewing), through years as a young poet in Moscow's artistic avant-garde in the depths of the Brezhnev era (when he earned a living as a tailor, running up flares for his fashion-starved comrades), the splendours and miseries of life as an émigré in New York and Paris, and the succès de scandale of his novel of 1979, It's Me, Eddie, which relates in pornographic detail a sexual encounter with a black man in a children's playground in Manhattan. (Limonov later denied that the homosexual experiences he portrayed ever happened.)

Limonov returned to Russia in 1989 and became politically active in 1991. With the anti-Western ideologist Aleksandr Dugin, whose vision of a Eurasian empire he shared, Limonov founded a radical newspaper, Limonka (slang for hand grenade), and an unofficial political party, the National Bolsheviks. The Nazbols became a genuine countercultural movement with many thousands of young members. In the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, Limonov backed Serbia. He showed up in the Balkans and was filmed firing in the direction of Sarajevo. In 2001, he was jailed in Russia for two years for illegally buying weapons. Other charges against him (later dropped) included terrorism and planning an invasion of Kazakhstan.

In Carrère's account, prison brought out the best in Limonov. The narcissist forgot himself; among his cellmates, he was the 'good guy'. In love, too, Carrère portrays Limonov as, at times, a 'good man', capable of steadfast devotion to self-destructive women. Limonov is prone to grandiosity about his prodigious sex life: 'when I am making love,' he once declared, 'I symbolise the gigantic eroticism of my nation'. Among his five wives are some spectacular beauties: the model Elena Schapova (whom Carrère calls Tania), the singer Natalia Medvedeva and the actress Ekaterina Volkova, thirty years his junior and mother of his two children. Through all the turmoil of these self-reinventions runs an unbroken habit of work and a spartan routine of physical exercise followed by long hours at his desk. Limonov has published around fifty books, most based on his own life. Above all, he is the creator of his own myth. His latest work, Old Man, came out this year.

As Carrère draws on Limonov's autobiographical fiction, which hovers just beyond the bounds of verifiable fact, he reflects on his parallel evolution as a writer in his own 'calm country on the decline'. He wryly questions his Parisian sensibilities ('bourgeois' or, at wildest, 'bourgeois bohemian') and the riddle of his fascination with the charismatic 'barbarian' Limonov. At times, fascination turns into hatred. Limonov 'sees himself as a hero', Carrère writes, but he could equally be called a 'scumbag'.

Carrère first met Limonov in the early 1980s. 'This sexy, sly, funny guy', the darling of Parisian literary circles, was the antithesis of the Russian émigré figures he knew: grave bearded dissidents who lived in small apartments cluttered with books and icons, and talked all night 'about how Orthodoxy would save the world'. Limonov's life was full of 'violence and rage', drunken benders, transgressive sex and 'extremist' political gestures. What does this 'romantic, dangerous life' say, Carrère asks, 'not just about him, Limonov, not just about Russia, but about everything that's happened since the end of the Second World War'? And what does it reveal about Putin, 'Edward's double', as Carrère calls him in a discerning passage at the end of the book?

Carrère's mother, an intriguing presence in his narrative, is the eminent historian Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, permanent secretary of the Académie française. Her scholarship has focused on aspects of Russian national identity that preoccupy Limonov: among them, the importance of Central Asia in the history of Russian imperial power and the idea of a Eurasian empire. It is in Central Asia that Limonov feels his best, he tells Carrère on the last page of the book. He imagines himself living out his old age as one of the toothless beggars in the shadow of a mosque in some 'dusty, slow, violent' city like Samarkand or Bukhara. 'He'd be fine with that,' Carrère concludes.
11th-Oct-2014 12:10 am - Edward Limonov SALADE NIÇOISE (1985)
/ перевод на французский: Catherine Prokhoroff
// Paris: «Le Dilettante», 1985, broché, 42 p., ISBN: 2-84414-021-1

Edward Limonov

окончание, начало здесь

« Je m’ennuie. Je ne connais personne ici. » Elle farfouilla dans les galets. « Hum, hum », fis-je avec philosophie. J’étais convaincu qu’elle allait me demander de l’argent, mais qu’elle allait tout d’abord m’annoncer qu’elle était sortie de prison ou d’un hôpital pas plus tard qu’aujourd’hui. Son français ne valait guère mieux que le mien, et le mien, il faut le reconnaître, était épouvantable. « Tu n’es pas français ? — Non. » Je ne souhaitais pas poursuivre la conversation. Nous nous tûmes. Je fermai mon livre. « Vous non plus n’êtes pas française, bien sûr… », marmonnai-je enfin, parce qu’elle restait assise, ne s’en allait pas et me regardait avec embarras. « De quelle nationalité pensez-vous que je sois ? » se réjouit-elle. « Espagnole ? » J’étais sûr qu’elle était tzigane, mais je n’osais pas le lui dire. « Non, je viens du Brésil », s’offensa-t-elle, comme si la différence entre une Brésilienne et une Espagnole était si grande que ça. « Moi, je suis russe », rétorquai-je, afin qu’elle ne s’enorgueillît pas trop de sa rare nationalité. « Vrai ? C’est la première fois que je vois un vrai Russe. » J’étais persuadé qu’il y avait à Rio des milliers de Russes. Nous sommes partout. « Je m’appelle Lucia. » Elle me tendit la main. Je la pris. « Moi, Edward. » Sa main était petite et sèche, la main d’une fille qui travaille dur. Je louchai, tel un voleur, par-dessus mes lunettes, sur sa main. Ses doigts étaient courts et ses petits ongles s’enfonçaient profondément dans la viande. Une fille simple. « Qu’est-ce que tu fais dans la vie, Lucia ? — Je suis… », pause, « … photographe. » Je ne la crus pas. « Et toi, Edward ? — Je suis venu pour les Journées de la littérature mondiale. » Je désignai du menton les drapeaux visibles de la plage qui flottaient sur le chapiteau et mon hôtel. Drapeaux mensongers : Erskine Caldwell et moi étions les seuls écrivains étrangers à participer à cette manifestation. Une blonde, qui s’était laissée tomber sur une serviette près de nous, enleva son tee-shirt, découvrant deux seins doux et blancs aux tétons roses. Je me mis à bander et ça me serrait à faire mal dans mon maillot Olympic.

« Aux Journées de la littérature… ? — Oui, je suis écrivain… » Je pensais que tout Nice ne se préoccupait que de nous, écrivains, et voilà que j’étais assis à côté d’un spécimen qui n’avait aucune idée de l’importance des événements qui s’y déroulaient. « C’est la première fois que je rencontre un vrai écrivain. » Photographe professionnelle, elle aurait rencontré des dizaines de vrais écrivains et quelques vrais Russes. Elle ment, elle s’invente une biographie intéressante. Je regardai carrément la Tzigane Lucia du Brésil. Je la regardai toute… Elle n’était catastrophiquement pas mon type. J’aime les grandes femmes blanches, les petites et mates ne m’attirent pas. Mais elle avait de larges hanches et de petits seins de gamine avec des tétons presque noirs. « Je suis venue vers toi parce que tu m’as semblé… », elle chercha le mot, « … plus vrai que les autres. »

Je m’adoucis après le compliment. Troublée, elle avait plongé la main dans le fin gravier qui se transformait en sable comme la chute des cheveux se transforme chez les vieux en calvitie, formant ainsi un petit cratère. Qui sait, pensai-je, peut-être est-elle un travesti brésilien tombé amoureux de moi dès le premier regard ?

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11th-Oct-2014 12:08 am - Edward Limonov SALADE NIÇOISE (1985)
/ перевод на французский: Catherine Prokhoroff
// Paris: «Le Dilettante», 1985, broché, 42 p., ISBN: 2-84414-021-1

Edward Limonov

Mais, putain de bordel ! pourquoi ont-ils décidé de m’inviter ? Aujourd’hui encore, je ne l’ai pas compris. Lorsqu’une dame du comité d’organisation me téléphona en me demandant si je pouvais me rendrè à Nice pour quatre jours, croyez-vous que je la questionnai pour savoir qui lui avait donné mon numéro et pourquoi je méritais un tel honneur ? Devinez. Je dis seulement : « Me payez-vous l’aller-retour en avion et une chambre ? — Bien sûr », grogna-t-elle, offusquée. « Quand faut-il y être ? Les dates… ? » demandai-je, laconique. N’importe quelle date collait, je n’avais strictement rien à faire, je n’écrivais même pas cet automne-là, j’insistais uniquement pour me donner de l’importance. « Ça va », répondis-je quand elle me donna les dates.

Aussi sec, ils m’envoyèrent un paquet de papiers épais comme un doigt. Je les déchiffrais méthodiquement à l’aide d’un dictionnaire et compris qu’ils affrétaient un avion spécial à l’aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle ; mais, si je le souhaitais, je pouvais choisir un autre moyen de transport. Ils promettaient de me rembourser plus tard. J’avais très envie de profiter de l’occasion, aller dans le Sud en train, regarder les beautés de la France par la fenêtre d’un compartiment. Mais j’avais peur qu’il y ait ensuite une couille pour revoir l’argent du billet. Je ne fais pas confiance aux gens. A une organisation inconnue basée à Nice, pas plus.

Je pris pour le voyage mon sac bleu marine, j’y fourrai mes affaires de toilette et quelques exemplaires de mes livres. Dans une housse en plastique, je rangeai mon smoking : entre autres réjouissances, étaient prévus au programme quelques dîners dans des hôtels, des palais. C’est par un beau matin d’automne que j’arrivai avec la gueule de bois à l’aéroport dans un autocar Air France. « Pourquoi faut-il toujours que je boive le soir, si le lendemain matin il me faut absolument être à l’aéroport ? » me demandai-je avec philosophie en entrant sous le chapiteau de verre. J’aurais dû, depuis longtemps, abandonner ces habitudes de jeunesse qui ne conviennent pas à la vie mesurée et laborieuse que doit mener un écrivain. Je me laissai tomber avec délices sur la première chaise venue et, seulement après, regardai à l’intérieur du chapiteau. Des comptoirs, des caisses, des groupes de chaises en plastique rassemblés comme des arbres dans une oasis autour de cendriers moulés et chromés d’une taille gargantuesque. Puis je vis le bar. Je le vis, me réjouis de son existence, me souvins de mon smoking et, me méfiant de la salle, me levai, pris mon sac et ma housse et les traînai vers le bar. Les individus ici me semblaient appartenir à une bande de voyous professionnels, ongles manucurés, lunettes sur le nez, feignant de lire des journaux tout en se préparant à me faucher ma housse et mon smoking.

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1er épisode

Fin juillet 1981, rue des Écouffes

Je ne connaissais le poète maudit que depuis quelques mois, flatté de son amitié, et dévoré de curiosité pour un des rares écrivains professionnels (avec Hervé Prudon) que je puisse approcher, alors que je me destinais à cette « carrière ». De son côté, ma bande de jeunes constituait un des premiers groupes rencontrés à Paris en dehors de son éditeur et du cercle mondain auquel le Russe révolté mais non-dissident avait accès.

Il vivait dans un appartement, pour moi spacieux et extraordinaire, haut de plafond, sur trois niveaux, du Marais non encore rénové. Rue des Écouffes, en face d’une synagogue. Plus aucun d’entre nous n’aurait de nos jours les moyens de crécher là. Paris ne veut plus de nous ses fils depuis longtemps. Je ne sais plus pourquoi j’étais là, discuter le bout de gras sans doute, je voulais tout savoir : les soviets, New York (à cette époque le centre du monde), le montant de ses avances sur un livre, les perspectives de traduction, son jeu de bascule avec les éditeurs. Il était très généreux avec ses informations. Personnellement, je n’avais besoin de personne pour savoir comment et quoi écrire, mais j’étais ignorant du mode de vie, qu’il possédait à la perfection, vagabond planétaire, cosmopolite et bohème. Nos conversations se déroulaient à l’époque en anglais, il ne possédait pas encore le français, je ne parlais pas russe. L’avait-il fait exprès, c’est possible, cela arriva en d’autres occasions, mais Elena, la femme qui lui avait brisé le cœur quelques années plus tôt, celle pour qui il avait, de son propre aveu frôlé la mort dans les bas-fonds de Manhattan, frappa à la porte.

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via Илья


Сексу в русской литературе не везло. У французов был Рабле, у итальянцев — Бокаччо, у англичан — Чосер, у немцев — Гриммельсгаузен, у испанцев — Гевара. А у нас — фольклорный Фрол Скобеев да Иван Барков со своим откровенно непристойным «Лукой Мудищевым».

Классика XIX века тоже ничего не добавила к этой волнующей теме. Совершенно бесполые книги Гоголя. Неземные вздохи Тургенева. Кромешные бездны — но только души! — Достоевского. Пожалуй, кроме нескольких шуток Пушкина («Вишня», «Царь Никита»), одной-двух сцен у Толстого и Гончарова — ничего. Долгие десятилетия телесное познание жизни добывалось из книг французов: Золя, Мопассана. В начале XX века уездных барышень потряс порнографический роман Арцыбашева «Санин», в котором самым, кажется, сильным местом было: «Грудь ее высоко вздымалась». Тончайшие и точнейшие эротические описания оставил Бунин в цикле «Темные аллеи». Это, может быть, единственная по-настоящему эротическая книга в русской литературе, но — абсолютно целомудренная.

До 70-х годов в нашей прозе и не мог появиться роман, подобный гениальной книге Генри Миллера «Тропик Рака». Собственно, он так и не появился, но в русскую литературу вошел секс. Аксенов в «Ожоге» и «Острове Крым», Милославский в «Укрепленных городах», Евг. Попов и Вик. Ерофеев в «Метрополе», Львов, Севела, многие другие.

Пока описание интимной близости не удалось никому. Сексуальные сцены, размещаясь в диапазоне от неуклюжей грубости до туманных аллегорий, в современной русской прозе оставляют чувство острой неловкости. Долгие годы ханжеского умолчания сделали свое: не выработаны даже основы философии и терминологии секса. В русском языке вообще, как точно заметил Иосиф Бродский, «любовь как акт лишена глагола». Этот глагол, возможно, будет найден – как найден он почти во всех европейских литературах. Но сейчас его не в состоянии заменить ни мат, ни нелепые эвфемизмы.

Дальше всех в этом направлении пошел Эдуард Лимонов, написавший самую скандальную книгу последних лет и тем создавший вокруг себя совершенно особую сферу популярности.

Роман «Это я – Эдичка» должен был возникнуть в русской словесности как результат комплексных усилий либерализации 60-х, расцвета Самиздата, возможности печататься на Западе и даже уезжать на Запад. Один за другим рушились запреты и табу. Естественным образом пал и этот – последний. Поэтому бессмыслен гнев пуристов, обрушившихся на книгу Лимонова: отрицание такой литературы означает отрицание литературного процесса вообще. И так же бессмысленна ссылка на отсутствие соответствующей традиции в русской литературе: традиции не только длятся, но и возникают.

Другое дело – само качество романа. Написанный в отчаянной, будто предсмертной, попытке выразить себя, он производит сильное впечатление. Но за этим искренним душевным порывом нет подлинной глубины чувств – порыв как таковой. И – главная слабость книги Лимонова – нет адекватных порыву средств выражения. Чисто литературные недостатки сводят почти на нет достоинства романа: чувства предстают искусственными, идеи – младенческими. Такая же неискушенность прозы губит многочисленные сцены интимной близости. «Любовь как акт лишена глагола»... Но первая попытка – какова бы она ни была – сделана. Может быть, и у нас будет свой «Тропик Рака»...


Общественная мысль в эмиграции составляет довольно монолитное единство. Безусловный антикоммунизм, уважение к религии, национальная терпимость — все это должно было бы объединить третью волну в сплоченную группу единомышленников. Но, оказавшись в свободном мире, соратники стали оппонентами. Сама возможность, доступность полемики обусловила ее появление. Дискуссии стали главным содержанием газетной и журнальной жизни. Они часто возникали по несущественным поводам, но велись горячо и напряженно. Отсутствие серьезных разногласий только подогревало пыл сторон. Полемика стала самоценным явлением, как бы свидетельством демократической зрелости автора.

Так, памфлет В. Максимова «Сага о носорогах» породил целую литературу в эмиграции. Общественная позиция А. Солженицына стала чуть ли не единственным предметом творчества многих авторов (А. Янов, Б. Шрагин, В. Соловьев, Е. Клепикова). Роман Э. Лимонова «Это я – Эдичка» стал объектом массовой критики, в первую очередь общественной, а не литературной.


Не оборачиваясь на гул магистралей, вершат каждый свой «пикник на обочине» Александр Зиновьев, Юрий Мамлеев, Аркадий Ровнер, Эдуард Лимонов...


Эдуард Лимонов открыл для себя вседозволенность, и это потрясло его. Потом, по выходе книги «Это я – Эдичка» это потрясло и всех остальных. Люди, бегущие впереди прогресса – восхитились, плетущиеся позади – с омерзением отвернулись (известно, что в ногу с прогрессом не шагает вообще никто). За безудержным матом, за наркотиками и развратом затерялось главное – пронзительная любовь к несчастной девочке Лене несчастного мальчика Эдика, который – совершенно не знает, что ему делать. А потому делает единственное доступное ему, как и каждому человеку – в его распоряжении его тело: и он спит с бабами и мужиками, пьет и колется, и при этом – что же остается – проклинает всех. Вы мразь – так нате, и я мразь; вы дерьмо – так вот куча на стол; вы меня – и я вас, ну, не вас, так кого удастся... Лимонов написал талантливую исповедальную прозу в отчаянной попытке довести до крайнего предела материальное, телесное познание самого себя. Такая проза пишется раз в жизни, ни повторить, ни переписать не выйдет: только знание и опыт, а не вымысел и фантазия, дают вдохновение вседозволенности. А поэтому – еще неизвестно, писатель ли Эдуард Лимонов, но его книга – конечно, литература.


Limonov à Paris

Un cadavre dans la broussaille

Edouard Limonov, extrait du “Livre des morts”
Traduit du russe par Thierry Marignac

En novembre 1980 mon premier livre fit son apparition dans les librairies françaises. Certains journalistes ont commencé à s’intéresser à moi. Ça se passait d’une façon simple: ils obtenaient mon numéro de téléphone auprès de l’éditeur et appelaient. Ainsi sous le prétexte d’être journalistes sont apparues dans ma vie un certain nombre de personnes remarquables. Dominique Gauthier vint me voir, il représentait à l’époque le journal du 13ème arrdt, et il devait par la suite fonder avec quelques amis les éditions du Dilettante. Ils ont publié quelques-unes de mes nouvelles et sont à présent un éditeur en vogue. C’est dans ces circonstances que je rencontrai Thierry Marignac pour la première fois avec son inséparable ami Pierre-François Moreau. Ils venaient de la part d’une “radio libre”, c’est à dire n’appartenant pas à l’état. Cette radio fut bientôt interdite, Giscard gouvernait encore le pays, on imprimait encore de temps en temps la photo des condamnés à la guillotine en dernière page du Figaro, alors les radios libres… Plus tard celles-ci connurent une nouvelle heure de gloire sous Mitterrand. Thierry portait un blouson de cuir déchiré, Pierre-François un long imperméable. Leurs chaussures à tous les deux avaient vu des jours meilleurs. Nous devînmes amis, une amitié si solide que Thierry, il y a encore quelques semaines, refermait la porte de l’appartement moscovite dans lequel j’écris ces lignes.

Créature charmante

Ils réussirent tout de même à placer l’interview réalisée avec moi, pas à la radio, mais dans le magazine “Actuel”. Quelques temps plus tard, ils m’invitèrent”chez eux”. Pierre-François habitait Pigalle, le quartier des prostituées et des travestis. Pour trouver mon chemin je dus demander à des putains et à des travestis fardés. À cette époque, elles sillonnaient les ruelles. Je ne me souviens plus si Alain était là. On était tous assis par terre à fumer, à boire du whisky et du gin. Les jeunes Parisiens de ce temps-là méprisaient le vin français. Il y avait également avec nous une créature charmante, des jambes fines dans des bas blancs, une crinière blonde, la frimousse légèrement maquillée. Elle s’appelait Nicole. C’était la voisine de Thierry. Je m’intéressais beaucoup à elle.

Le dressage du tigre à Paris

Je me souviens très bien de nous ensuite, sur la place de la République dans le magasin à moitié vide du père d’Alain. Au milieu des boîtes de chaussures traînaient des piles d’une brochure agrafée — le premier numéro de la revue “Acte Gratuit”. Les rédacteurs en étaient, bien sûr, Pierre-François et Thierry. L’impression en était payée par le père d’Alain. Il se révéla par la suite qu’il était prêt à payer pour n’importe quoi du moment que son fils travaille. Très mince avec un grand nez, plein d’humour, les cheveux noirs coiffés en arrière, toujours vêtu avec élégance, Alain est une figure de mon livre “Le dressage du tigre à Paris”. Il a été retrouvé il n’y a pas si longtemps sur un trottoir parisien : mort.

En 1981 nous nous penchions avec plaisir sur “notre revue”. J’y avais publié quelque chose et devais ensuite participer à tous les numéros. Il y en eut sept. Elle était illustrée par des photos de Serge Van Pouke, et il était avec nous ce jour-là. Son destin à lui aussi fut tragique : Il devait mourir en 1986 d’une congestion cérébrale dans sa salle de bains, lui un grand costaud aux jambes solides qui jouait le rôle de père auprès de tous les autres gars de la bande. Mort, écrasé comme une mouche ! Mort alors qu’il était en passe de devenir un photographe célèbre — un de ses clichés, son propre visage et celui de son amie figurent en couverture d’un plan de Paris publié à un tirage énorme, sur fond de Tour Eiffel, les traits étirés à l’infini hors de la page… Et c’est dans cette posture qu’il nous a quitté pour l’éternité. Pour quelle raison fut-il rappelé vers sa dernière demeure, arraché à sa femme et à ses enfants qui l’adoraient, à une carrière couronnée de succès ?… C’est, bien entendu, impossible à savoir. Soit dit en passant, l’éternité, c’est ce qui nous attend, tous.

Toutes classes confondues

Avant de mourir dans sa salle de bains, Serge eut le temps de sauver Alain. Cela se passa de la manière suivante. Il faut tout d’abord préciser que leur histoire — une bande de jeunes gens talentueux, mais des Parisiens gâtés pourris — c’est l’histoire de leur génération. La France est un vieux pays aux normes strictes où les jeunes n’ont pas leur place. On s’efforce de les faire vieillir le plus vite possible, de les mener à marche forcée vers le rythme “travail-week-end”. Alain désirait un loisir permanent, ses parents avaient de l’argent, la vie l’ennuyait. Ces gars-là étaient tous nés à l’époque où Paris vivait encore selon une structure verticale. L’époque où dans le même immeuble, la concierge habitait au rez-de-chaussée avec sa famille, les étages suivants étaient occupés par les bourgeois, et tout en haut des chambres pour les pauvres, aux plafonds bas ou mansardés, qui étaient occupées par les domestiques souvent avec leurs enfants, et des étudiants. Et la marmaille, toutes classes confondues, jouait dans la même cour, les jeunes bourgeois, les enfants des domestiques et travailleurs des étages supérieurs. C’est ainsi qu’ils s’étaient connus. Thierry, Pierre-François, le fils des marchands de chaussures Alain, Serge Van Pouke, le fils d’émigré arménien Rodolphe, et le fils de la concierge Fernand. Celui-la avait été cambrioleur, petit trafiquant ; il avait fait de la prison et mourut au début des années 90 d’une overdose, devenu alors vendeur de la revue “L’idiot International”. Voilà quelques-uns des tours que peut réserver le destin ! À ce propos, le féodal directeur de la revue, Jean-Edern, se servit de cette mort, la présentant comme le décès héroïque d’un vendeur à son poste de combat, diffusant une publication subversive et dangereuse. Il alla jusqu’à acheter le silence de la veuve, une créature malheureuse, restée seule avec un enfant à élever, et ne la paya pas, ce qui fait fulminer Thierry aujourd’hui encore.

La structure verticale de la ville était sans discussion possible, plus humaine. Nous rendîmes un jour visite, moi et les fils de bourgeois, je m’en souviens parfaitement, à la femme de Fernand, dans un minuscule appartement aux cloisons dont le papier peint arraché laissait apparaître le contreplaqué. Un enfant en pleurs, il faisait froid, les gars de la bande lui apportaient de l’argent, Fernand était en prison.

La génération suivante vit déjà sur un schéma horizontal : les travailleurs n’habitent plus à Paris. Ce qui signifie que la prochaine génération de voleurs comme Fernand ne pourra compter que sur ses semblables pour l’aider, parce que les petits-bourgeois grandissent déjà sur le modèle urbain horizontal du Paris contemporain et ne connaissent pas de voleurs.


Alain lisait constamment. Il était d’une érudition remarquable, il avait le sens de l’humour, il était élégant, c’était un brave garçon. Mais il n’y avait absolument rien à faire, sur cette terre, pour lui. Qui plus est son premier amour — une certaine Loulou — était morte prématurément d’une overdose d’héroïne et avait brisé la vie d’Alain, faisant de lui un veuf éternel. Durant ces années, la fidèle Cécile vivait avec lui, prête à endurer tous les feux de l’enfer. C’était une femme de petite taille au grand nez à la coiffure iroquoise plantée en avant, dont la teinture s’intensifiait progressivement jusqu’à des mèches jaune tournesol. Comment était Loulou, je ne l’ai jamais su. Si elle ressemblait à cette jeune pécheresse de Nicole (Je la voyais sans arrêt, à présent, mais elle était maquée avec un drôle de zèbre, on disait même qu’il la battait) alors elle méritait bien ce chagrin infini. Alain essaya sérieusement d’en finir avec la vie à plusieurs reprises. La fois où Serge le sauva il avait organisé son suicide de façon extrêmement esthétique, dans la plus belle tradition du dandysme français et de la décadence parisienne. En effet, c’était un garçon très cultivé. Alain se procura tout ce qui était nécessaire à son suicide : Il fit un très bon dîner, prit une chambre dans un hôtel de luxe, acheta des fleurs qu’il disposa dans toute la pièce. Il s’injecta une dose d’héroïne par voie intra-veineuse en écoutant “Cosi Fan Tutti” de Mozart. Remit le disque au début et s’injecta une nouvelle dose. Il avala ensuite le contenu d’une boîte entière de somnifères et attendit d’aller retrouver Loulou. Quelque chose dans la manœuvre ne fonctionna pas comme prévu : ou Loulou lui intima de vivre, ou elle lui commanda de faire ses adieux à Serge. Quoi qu’il en soit, il appela Serge pour un dernier au revoir.

— Où es-tu, espèce d’imbécile !

— À l’hôtel du rêve et des fleurs, répondit Alain. Au septième ciel.

Et il lâcha le combiné en déclamant du Baudelaire.

Serge, avec une compréhension intuitive de son ami qui s’étendait au-delà des pensées humaines ordonnées, prit un taxi et visita tous les hôtels du septième arrondissement. Dans l’un d’entre eux, dont le nom comportait le mot “fleur”, il trouva son ami Alain. Le médecin sauva le jeune homme. Ensuite, Serge mourut.


C’est après qu’apparut Cécile. Ils prirent un appartement rue Joseph de Maistre ! la rue des philosophes et des mystiques où Alain s’endormit un soir un joint au bec pour se réveiller à l’épicentre d’un incendie. Il prit calmement le chat dans ses bras et sortit. L’appartement meublé grâce au père d’Alain partit en fumée. La veille du mariage de ces jeunes gens, qui avaient tout pour être heureux (pour l'occasion ils avaient tous deux teint leur iroquoise en jaune paille et portaient des vestes trois fois trop grandes), le frère de Cécile mourut d’overdose. Je me brûlai moi-même un peu plus tard au feu qui les consumait, cherchant à émerger d’un traumatisme crânien, grâce auquel, d’ailleurs, je m’étais retrouvé face à face pendant un mois avec une araignée velue couleur d'orange, qui progressait vers moi sans se presser. J’ai raconté ça dans mon livre « Le dressage du tigre à Paris ». Je me permettrai d’en citer un extrait concernant l’araignée: “Le malade contemplait le corps rampant et ondulant de l’araignée, et cela lui faisait du bien. De celle-ci émanait une sérénité éternelle. Par son allure, le poil orange de l’insecte lui indiquait que tout était bien qui finirait bien. Qu’il était bon de mourir comme de vivre, de mourir aujourd’hui ou dans trente ans.”

Cela se déroula de la façon suivante. Invités au vernissage de l’exposition du peintre William Brui dans un restaurant de l’Ile Saint-Louis, Natacha et moi nous nous étions enivrés assez rapidement. Alain et Cécile firent leur apparition à la fin de la soirée. Alain, assis à notre table, lâcha une poudre blanche dans un verre d’eau, qu’il s’empressa de boire. Et me proposa d’en faire autant. Habitué à la vie new-yorkaise des années 70, où l’on proposait toutes sortes de pilules dans les soirées, je bus. Et sombrai dans un état d’inconscience. Les conséquences furent un traumatisme crânien, des yeux au beurre noir, plaies et bosses, un mois au lit, l’araignée. J’oubliai la poudre blanche, m’en souvins peut-être six mois plus tard, retrouvant dans le smoking que j’avais porté ce soir-là le deuxième paquet ayant contenu la fameuse substance. Un médecin de ma connaissance me déclara qu’il s’agissait d’une poudre anti-alcoolique, utilisée comme remède dans certaines cures, et provoquant des réactions violentes.

— Votre ami est fou, ou c’est un très mauvais plaisant, déclara le docteur. Vous auriez pu en mourir.

Les feux de l’enfer

Je tentai d’appeler Cécile et Alain pour… je ne savais même pas pour quelle raison, au fond : exprimer ma colère ? Personne ne répondait chez eux. En fin de compte, j’appris par Thierry que le père d’Alain avait décidé d’éloigner son fils de Paris et avait acheté une boutique sur la Côte d’Azur où le couple vivait désormais, vendant des t-shirts et des chemises à fleurs, des lunettes de soleils et des articles de station balnéaire. Ma colère s’évanouit. Je décidai qu’Alain était en relation directe avec le mal, et donc avec le diable. Qu’il se chauffait aux feux de l’enfer, extraordinairement dangereux pour lui-même et son entourage ; d’autant plus dangereux, que c’était un charmant garçon.

« À chaque nation son genre de diable, décida l’écrivain. Le diable américain est un mass-murderer ennuyeux, aux traits lourds, au postérieur disproportionné avec le reste du corps, en jean distendu d’une façon indécente, aux mains et aux joues rouges — pleines de taches de rousseurs, aux épaules étroites et à l’estomac proéminent. Les Français ont une version à l’ancienne mode, mince, d'un commerce agréable, de mœurs dissolues, comme un comte d’autrefois, ou un Jean Cocteau ».

Sur la côte d’Azur, le couple eut à gérer une relation compliquée avec les truands locaux. Il semble qu’Alain ait refusé de les payer, alors la boutique fut cambriolée deux fois de suite. Il lui fallut acheter des armes pour se défendre. Alain acheta trois revolvers et fit peur à Cécile en lui proposant de jouer à la roulette russe. Les revolvers ne servirent à rien. La boutique fut incendiée. Cécile supplia Alain de vendre les armes. Il en vendit deux, et garda le troisième. Ils vécurent à l’hôtel à Bordeaux, près de la mer. Un soir que Cécile était endormie, Alain s’injecta de l’héroïne dans la pièce voisine. D’après ce qu’il devait dire plus tard, il avait commencé à s’ennuyer et avait pris le revolver. Il se tira deux balles dans la tête. La première ne causa aucun dommage sérieux, et la deuxième entra dans une tempe et sortit par l’autre. Il resta en vie, sain d’esprit (pour autant qu’il l’ait jamais été) mais il était aveugle.

À quel moment survint sa fin, je ne le sais pas. Les dernières années de sa vie passèrent vite et d’une façon encore plus effrénée. Son père lui donnait de l’argent. Il trouvait des gens pour lui acheter de l’héroïne. Cécile le découvrit quelquefois au lit avec des prostituées et finit par le quitter. Son entourage était composé de gens qui vivaient à ses crochets, lui volant de l’argent et de la drogue. Un beau jour, l’aveugle s’effondra et on le retrouva quelques temps plus tard dans les broussailles parisiennes. Mort. Il voulait tant rejoindre sa Loulou. J’espère qu’il l’a retrouvée.

— This is very good for you…

J’entends encore sa voix pendant qu’il versait sa poudre empoisonnée dans mon verre. Et derrière lui se profile un élégant diable français.
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