During the 1920’s, Mayakovsky was the leading Soviet poet. Not in the sense that he was the best one, but he dominated the literary scene by claiming to reflect and represent the new era better than others. This claim was not shared by the Party and the literary establishment, and during the first years after Mayakovsky’s suicide in 1930 his works were almost not published at all. However, in 1935 he was canonized by Stalin as the “best and most talented poet of our Soviet epoch”. After this began his evolution into a Monument. Over the years this monument came be bear little resemblance to the real Mayakovsky. His literary genesis, especially the futurist period of his career, was dismissed as “bourgeois” and “decadent”, and his private life was distorted in order to present him as an impeccable example of Soviet morals. By the early 1970’s the situation had become absurd: the house where he lived, and which was a museum, was closed, and facts and people who did not fit into the official image of Mayakovsky as The Proletarian Poet were purged from his biography. It became increasingly clear that something had to be done to free Mayakovsky from the grip of the Soviet ideologues.
Lecture in English