Elaine Wilson

evw2110@columbia.edu
Articles by Elaine Wilson

Red Goes Green: A Contemporary Ecological Reading of a Soviet Classic

“Pkhents,” written by Abram Tertz, the pen name of Andrei Sinyavsky, is the story of an incognito extraterrestrial stranded in the Soviet Union. He’s not one of the stereotypical little green men, but he is, in a sense, green: out of all life forms on earth, he identifies most with the plant kingdom. He is a kind of alien cactus masquerading as a hunchbacked book-keeper. 

Scholars and critics have pointed to the alien figure leading a dual life as an autobiographical gesture: Sinyavsky, an ethnic Russian, was a Soviet literary critic who assumed the explicitly Jewish pseudonym—Abram Tertz—to compose dissident works. Indeed, the bulk of Sinyavsky-Tertz’s oeuvre is populated with misfits, outcasts, and hybrid and contradictory identities through which the author exorcised his own sense of incongruity with the Soviet world. 

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