Download PDF:
For citation:

Pieralli C. Gulag Poetry as Literary Testimony: Poetical and Epistemic Framework. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 2, pp. 144–163. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-2-144-163

Author: Claudia Pieralli
Information about the author:

Claudia Pieralli, PhD in Russian Studies Tenure Track Associate Professor of Russian Literature, University of Florence, Italy. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received: January 30, 2018
Published: June 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №2
Department: Russian Literature
Pages: 144-163

UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83.3(2Рос=Рус)6
Keywords: literary testimony, Gulag poetry, “lager” poetry.


The present survey aims at presenting the corpus of verses composed by the victims of рolitical repressions in the Soviet Union from the point of view of published collections and main critical works, concerning, above all, Stalinian era’s texts. At the same time, the study attempts to elaborate and theoretical and epistemic framework within which we can reasonably approach the study of this literary phenomenon of the 20th century Russian history of culture. We deal, first of all, with the possibility of considering these literary texts in relation to the concept of Testimony, and second, with the attempt to highlight specific structural and aesthetical interrelation between the testimonial function and its literary transfiguration in the specific context of poetical creation and expression process. Later, this corpus of texts is regarded as material for the study of the status of poetical word as an aesthetic object which is able to provide a historical (artistic — widely cultural) testimony of Soviet concentration system. Following this assumption, I will outline the literary means and techniques by which the testimonial function is carried out. Within this theoretical framework, the corpus of poetical texts by Soviet political prisoners constitutes a specific whole in the history of the 20th century Russian literature and should be considered as such in the future studies of the subject.


1 Anna Barkova: poet i ego vremia. Materialy vtoroi mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi conferentsii “Kaluga na literaturnoi karte Rossii” [Anna Barkova: poet and her time: Proceedings of the 2nd International conference “Kaluga on the literary map of Russia”]. Kaluga, KGPU im. K.E. Tsiolkovskogo Publ., 2009. 232 p. (In Russ.)

2 Barkova A.A. Vechno ne ta [Always not the one], ed. L.N. Taganov, O.K. Pereverzev; afterword L.N. Taganova. Moscow, Fond Sergeia Dubova Publ., 2002. 624 p. (In Russ.)

3 Barkova A.A. Izbrannoe: Iz gulagovskogo arkhiva [Selected: from Gulag archive], ed. and comment. Taganov L.N., Kholodova Z.Ia. Ivanovo, 1992. 297 p. (In Russ.)

4 Gagen-Torn G.Iu. Nina Ivanovna Gagen-Torn — uchenyi, pisatel’, poet [Nina Ivanovna Gagen-Torn — scholar, writer, poet]. Repressirovannye etnografy [Repressed ethnographs], ed. D.D. Tumarkin. Issue 1. Moscow, Vost. Lit. Publ., 1999, pp. 308–342. (In Russ.)

5 Geller M. Kontsentratsionnyi mir i sovetskaia literature [Concentration world and Soviet literature]. London, Overseas publ. Interchange, 1974. 356 p. (In Russ.)

6 Genіiush L. Zbor tvoraў: u 2 t. [Collection of works: in 2 vols.]. Mіnsk, Lіmaryus Publ., 2010. 439 p. + 469 p. (In Russian and Belorussian)

7 Geniush L. Belyi son. Stikhi i poemy [White dream. Poems], ed. B.I. Sachenko. Minsk, Mastats. lit. Publ., 1990. 350 p. (In Russ.)

8 Ginzburg E. Somnenie [Doubt]. Kolymskii etap. (Poety — uzniki Gulaga. Malaia seriia. № 12) [Poets — the prisoners of Gulag. Small series, no 12]. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 1991, pp. 12–13. (In Russ.)

9 “Gody beskonechnye, mgnovennye…” [Years eternal and transient], ed. Z. Veselaia. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 2001. 140 p. (In Russ.)

10 Goldovskaia V. Obelisk [Obelisk]. Kolymskii etap. (Poety — uzniki Gulaga. Malaia seriia. № 12) [Kolyma stage. Poets — the prisoners of Gulag. Small series]. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 1991, pp. 20–21. (In Russ.)

11 Gorbacheskii A.Ch. Motiv utrachennykh illiuzii i motiv tishiny v tekstakh byvshikh kolymskikh zakliuchennykh [The motif of lost illusions and the motif of silence in the texts of former Kolyma prisoners]. Mir russkogo slova, 2015, II, pp. 108–114. (In Russ.)

12 Domovitov N. Zona: stikhi [Zone: poems]. Perm’, Permskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo. Publ., 1990. 673 p. (In Russ.)

13 Elantseva O.P. BAMlag v kontekste istorii i literatury. Iz fondov dal’nevostochnykh bibliotek [BAMlag in the context of history and literature. From the funds of the Far East libraries]. Vladivostok, Izd-vo Dal’nevost. un-ta Publ., 2000. 232 p. (In Russ.)

14 Elantseva O.P. Poety i poeziia BAMlaga [Poets and poetry of BAMlag]. Vladivostok, Izd-vo Dal’nevost. un-ta Publ., 1994. 60 p. (In Russ.)

15 Intaliia: Stikhi i vospominaniia byvshikh zakliuchennykh Minlaga [Intaliia: Poems and memoir of the former Minlag prisoners], ed. A.Ia. Istoginoi. Moscow, Vest’ Publ., 1995. 260 p. (In Russ.)

16 Kersnovskaia E. Skol’ko stoit chelovek [How much does a human being cost]. Moscow, ROSSPEN Publ., 2006. 800 p. (In Russ.)

17 Mironets N.I. Khudozhestvennaia literatura kak istochnik: k istoriografii voprosa [Fictional literature as a source: on the historiography of the question]. Istoriia SSSR, 1976, no 1, pp. 125–141. (In Russ.)

18 Polius liutosti: stikhi uznikov stalinskikh kolymskikh lagerei [The pole of ferocity: poems by the prisoners of Stalin Kalyma camps], eds. A.F. Suzdal’tsev, I.A. Panikarov. Magadan, Novaia poligrafiia Publ., 2010. 255 p. (In Russ.)

19 Poeziia v kontslageriakh [Poetry in concentration camps], ed. A. Shifrin. Israel, Tsentr issledovaniia tiurem, psikhtiurem i kontslagerei SSSR Publ., 1978. 110 p. (In Russ.)

20 Poeziia uznikov Gulaga. Antologiia [Gulag poetry. Anthology], ed. S. Vilenskii. Moscow,Demokratiia Publ., 2005. 992 p. (In Russ.)

21 Poety — uzniki Gulaga [Poets — the prisoners of Gulag], ed. Z. Veselaia. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 2011. 224 p. (In Russ.)

22 P’eralli K. K voprosu izucheniia lagernoi poezii: osobennosti poezii solovetskikh uznikov [On the study of concentration camp poetry: the specificity of the poetry by Solovki prisoners]. Vospominaniia solovetskikh uznikov [Memoir of the Soviet prisoners], ed. V. Umniagin. Solovki, Izd. Solov. monastyria Publ., 2017, vol. 5: 1927–1933, pp. 32–43. (In Russ.)

23 Riker P. Pamiat’, istoriia, zabvenie [Memory, history, oblivience]. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo gumanitarnoi literatury Publ., 2004. 728 p. (In Russ.)

24 Roginskii A. Ot svidetel’stva k literature [From testimony to literature]. Varlam Shalamov v kontekste mirovoi literatury i sovetskoi istorii [Varlam Shalamov in the context of world literature and Soviet history], ed. S.S. Solov’ev. Moscow, Litera Publ., 2013, pp. 12–14. (In Russ.)

25 Solovetskaia muza: Stikhi i pesni zakliuchennykh SLONa (Poety — uzniki GULAGa. Malaia seriia. № 2) [Soviet Muse: Poems and songs of the SLON prisoners. Small series, no 2], ed. V.B. Murav’ev. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 1992. 37 p. (In Russ.)

26 Sred’ drugikh imen [Sb. stikhov uznikov stalinskikh lagerei] [Among other names. A collection of poems by concentratn camp prisoners], ed. and intro. V.B. Murav’eva. Moscow, Moskovskii rabochii Publ., 1990. 525 p. (In Russ.)

27 Stikhi ukrainskikh poetov — politicheskikh uznikov Vorkutinskikh lagerei [Poems by Ukrainian poets — political prisoners of Vorkuta camps], Vladimir Kosovskii, Evgenii Cherednichenko, Ivan Palamarchuk, Vasil’ Petriv (Roman Pisarchuk); trans. from Ukrainian Marka Kagantsova. Vorkuta, Ukraina Publ., 2007. 44 p. (In Russ.)

28 Taganov L.N. Kak dukh nash gorestnyi zhivuch…: stat’i, esse, vospominaniia, pis’ma, zametka iz literaturnogo dnevnika stikhi [“How tenacious is our grievous sprit…”: articles, essays, memoir, letters, journal entries, and poems]. Ivanovo, Ivanovskii Gos. Universitet Publ., 2010. 332 p. (In Russ.)

29 Taganov L.N. Potaennaia literatura: poeziia GULAGa [Underground literature: GULAG poetry]. Voprosy ontologicheskoi poetiki. Potaennaia literatura. Issledovaniia i materialy [The issues of onthological poetry. Underground literature. Studies and materials], ed. A.Iu. Moryganov. Ivanovo, Ivanovskii Gos. Universitet Publ., 1998, pp. 80–87. (In Russ.)

30 Taganov L.N. “Prosti, moiu nochnuiu dushu…”. Kniga ob A. Barkovoi [“Forgive my nocturnal soul…”. A book about A. Barkova]. Ivanovo, Ivanovskii Gos. Universitet Publ., 1993. 176 p. (In Russ.)

31 Tager E.M. Desiatiletniaia zima: Stikhi. (Poety — uzniki Gulaga. Malaia seriia. № 22) [Ten year winter: Poems (Poets — the prisoners of Gulag. Small series, no 22)]. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 1994. 36 p. (In Russ.)

32 Fidel’gol’ts Iu.L. Mnogo vody uteklo s tekh por: Stikhi [“Much water has flown since: Poems”]. Moscow, Vozvrashchenie Publ., 1995. 24 p. (In Russ.)

33 Shalamov V.T. Sobranie sochinenii: v 4 t. [Collection of works: in 4 vols.], ed., comment. I. Sirotinskaya. Moscow, Khudozh. lit.; VAGRIUS Publ., 1998. 619 p. + 508 p. + 525 p. + 493 p. (In Russ.)

34 “Ia toi, shcho dukhom ne skorivs’...” [“Ia tot, chei dukh ne pokorilsia...”]: sbornik stikhov uznikov Vorkutinskikh i Intinskikh lagerei GULAGa [sbornik stikhov ukrainskikh poetov — politicheskikh uznikov Vorkutinskikh i Intinskikh lagerei] [“I am the one whose spirit has not surrended…” A collection of poems by prisoners of Vorkuta and Intinsk GULAG camps], collected by E. Lisovaya; trans. M. Kagantsova; ed. N.M. Beizak. Vorkuta, without Publ., 2011. 265 p. (In Russ. And Ukrainian)

35 Bremeau C. Anna Barkova. La voix surgie de glaces. Paris, Harmattan, 2010. 266 p. (In French)

36 Feldman S., Laub D. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History. New York; London, 1992. 294 p. (In English)

37 Ginzburg C. Miti, emblemi, spie: morfologia e storia. Torino, Einaudi, 2000. 251 p. (In Italian)

38 Gullotta A. A new perspective for Gulag Literature Studies: the Gulag Press. Studi Slavistici, VIII, 2009, pp. 95–117. (In English)

39 Gullotta A. Gulag poetry: un almost unexplored field of research? F. Fischer von Weikerstahl, K. Taidigsmann. (Hi-)Stories of the Gulag. Fiction and reality. Heidelberg, Germany, Universitatsverlag Winter, 2016, pp. 175–192. (In English)

40 Jurgenson L. L’experience concentrationnaire, est-elle indicible? Monaco, Rocher, 2003. 396 p. (In French)

41 Jurgenson L. La testimonianza letteraria come fonte storica: il caso della letteratura dei Gulag. LEA — Lingue e Letterature d’Oriente e Occidente, V, 2016, pp. 267–283. (In Italian)

42 Jurgenson L. Les representation du Goulag dans la litterature testimoniale: approches epistemologiques. Dosse F., Goldstein C. Paur Ricoeur: penser la memoire. Paris, Seuil, 2013, pp. 183–196. (In French)

43 Jurgenson L., Anstett E. Introduction. Jurgenson L., Anstett E. Le goulag en heritage. Pour une anthropologie de la trace. Paris, Petra, 2009, pp. 11–17. (In French)

44 Mesnard Ph. Temoignage en resistance. Paris, Stock, 2007. 419 p. (In French)

45 Parrau A. Ecrire les camps. Paris, Belin, 1995. 438 p. (In French)

46 Pieralli C. La lirica nella ‘zona’: poesia femminile nei Gulag staliniani e nelle carceri. Alberti A., Moracci G. Linee di confine. Separazioni e processi di integrazione nello spazio culturale slavo. Firenze, University Press, 2013, pp. 221–246. (In Italian)

47 Pieralli C. Poesia del Gulag o della ‘zona’? Problemi e prospettive per una descrizione del corpus poetico dei prigionieri politici in URSS. Pieralli C., Delaunay C., Priadko E. Russia, Oriente slavo e Occidente europeo. Fratture e integrazioni nella storia e nella civilta europea (Biblioteca di Studi Slavistici). Firenze, University Press, Accesso ONLINE all’editore, pp. 281–310. (In Italian)

48 Pieralli C. The Poetry of Soviet Political Prisoners (1919–1939): An Historical-Typological Framework. Alberto A., Garzaniti M., Perotto M., Sulpasso B. Contributi italiani al Congresso Internazionale degli slavisti (Biblioteca di Studi Slavistici). Firenze, University Press, pp. 387–412. (In Italian)

49 Ricoeur P. La memoria, la storia, l’oblio, trad. it. di D. Iannotta. Milano, R. Cortina, 2003. 741 p. (In Italian)

50 Salamov V. Il destino di poeta, a cura di A.D. Siclari. Milano, Casa di Matriona, 2006. 317 p. (In Italian)

51 Toker L. Return from the Archipelago. Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 2000. 333 p. (In English)

52 Toker L. Textes litteraires et documents d’archives: entre elision et allusion. Anstett E., Jurgenson L. Le Goulag en heritage. Paris, Petra, 2009, pp. 89–99. (In French)