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Walpurgis Night, or the Steps of the Commander - Erofeev, Venedikt; Schwartz, Marian - Yale University Press
Literary Studies
Performing Arts

Series Information
The Margellos World Republic of Letters

Walpurgis Night, or the Steps of the Commander

  • Venedikt Erofeev; Translated by Marian Schwartz; With an Introduction by Karen Ryan
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Walpurgis Night, by acclaimed Russian writer Venedikt Erofeev, is considered a classic in the playwright’s homeland. Erofeev’s dark and funny five-act satire of Soviet repression has been called the comic high-water mark of the Brezhnev era. Walpurgis Night dramatizes the outrageous trials of Lev Isakovich Gurevich, an alcoholic half-Jewish dissident poet confined by the state to a hospital for the insane. In “Ward 3”—a microcosm of repressive Soviet society—Gurevich deploys his brilliant wit and ingenuity to bedevil his jailers, defend his fellow inmates, protest his incarceration, and generally create mayhem, which ultimately leads to a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

Venedikt Erofeev (19381990) was prominent in the Russian postmodernism movement and a major literary figure in Soviet underground culture. His prose poem, Moscow to the End of the Line, has been translated into numerous languages. Marian Schwartz is a prizewinning translator of Russian fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art.

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