Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava was born on May 9 and died on June 12 – this can be seen as a kind of “holiday-Danish” symbolism, although there is no figure in our literature who kindly apologizes, so misses the symbols . And simplifications too: snobby intellectuals did not forgive him “let’s join hands, friends”, opponents of the Soviet regime were dissatisfied with the fact that he was not a catacombs anti-Soviet writer (although he published it in tamizdat), but a strict binder. “poet and bard” and Arbat, as they say in reference books, to the sixties made it difficult to distinguish the second, third and deeper layers of his work. All this together created barriers to hearing the voice that has been heard over and over again.
The memorialization of Okudzhava—again, more Soviet than the post-Soviet era because of its popularity—also depends on the Arbat. Georgy Frangulyan’s monument next to the old Dieta store is very good, but takes up too much space for a room poet with a quiet voice. But it is not bad, perhaps the hero himself had an atypical appearance, and his thinness and inclination will make any monument recognizable. This is enough for tourists on the pedestrian street and “families” shooting “in the background”, hearing a few Okudzhava songs. This would not have pleased the poet, who disliked such clamor.
And if you remember that the Arbat sharply rebelled against its conversion into a pedestrian street … But what can you do – the monument, so to speak, belongs to the people.
And Okudzhava wrote very bitter words about people. And about those who committed atrocities in the name of the people and for it. In 1975, Bulat Shalvovich composed a “Letter to Mom”, which begins with the lines “You are sitting on a date …”. Soldier and “young investigator” and escort (“beating you, kicking you …”) and leader (about “he does not trust anyone else / as if he has built a prison for himself”): “Forgive him (soldier, inspector, escort, leader. – AK), mother: not guilty, / not sinning in his soul – / after all, not for himself – he is for all people. This terrible poem is about the irresistible power of conformism justified by the interests of “the people.”
Okudzhava’s monument is a monument to a celebrity, a monument, a monument to a hero. And Bulat Shalvovich has always been beaten for “deheroization.” And he was the first to debunk the war, over it a man, a normal, young man, regretting the unlived life, fighting for the Fatherland, but not wanting to die, a war where you just want to eat and sleep. , where dying is scary. For this, he was beaten, starting with “Be Healthy Schoolboy” (1961), published in “Tarus Pages”.
What is not in the monument is the face of Okudzhava. However, the sculptor cannot be blamed – such a face cannot be transferred to stone.
My now deceased friend Ilyusha Milshtein has had the privilege of interviewing Okudzhava many times and willingly over the years. And about the poet’s face, unsuitable for a monument, Ilya once wrote: “She had an incredible face: childishly trusting eyes and contemptuous, mocking lips. The eyes reflected how the poet was conceived – pure, sublime and romantic. People and years have studied the hard folds in the mouth. Thus, in his poems and melodies, the unique intonations of the voice were combined with those incompatible traits: carelessness and suffering, naivety and longing, vulnerability and wisdom.
Ilya wrote that for one generation, or rather several generations, Okudzhava was a god. This statement needs to be corrected by God for some of the generation(s). The gods were indeed people whose voices could be filmed in full – Galich, Vysotsky, and Mamardashvili of a slightly different genre. Different dimensions of life, temperaments and recognizable voices of those years are very different.
And Okudzhava’s voice was calm. The voice of a shy and slender intellectual fawning in the hallway speaks “you”, which has only confused the century. Nothing imposing, sometimes surprised. Sometimes it’s just a matter of regret. And we’ll talk about that again. By the way, (in part) about the god of the generation.
Okudzhava had political leanings. He was a classical liberal and democrat. However, as there are many currents in this camp, the definition needs to be clarified. In 1993, Letter 42 supported the suppression of the red-brown rebellion. Then Okudzhava, perhaps, supported his strength, because it belonged to him that Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais communicated, hoped and kept on his own. And for their generation he was a god. He was known by heart in these circles. And they sang – the canonical prayer of the generation “Pirate lyric”, “Ex-soldier”, “Hope’s small orchestra”.
In October 1993, those who opposed the authorities, those who supported the Nazis, the rebels – considered the crowd. This is from a 1995 poem “The Russians are dear to me from long-standing prose …”: “And I look with sadness at this land / where there is anger and fire / / It seems to me that there are no Russians at all, / and instead of them – a crowd.”
In one of the last poems (and they went right after 1993, and there was a lot of bitterness and disappointment in everything) “I am depressed by the size of the country of residence” (1995), about the same hysterical “patriotism”, Bulat Shalvovich wrote: “ After all, to listen: drunk, screaming, wild, / dressed in velvet and gold, in dust and rags – / proud of greatness! / Yet the word “great” / expresses more dimension than substance.
Okudzhava is a fierce anti-Stalinist. Moreover, he was in two senses – against the Stalinist regime itself, which ran through his family (“I met with my mother – she died / I wanted to go to my father – but she was shot”) and against the authoritarian regime. and totalitarian regimes, their leaders, their extras and their wars. And in such battles, “bayonets and mortars gradually come into play – / this means that soon the uniforms will crawl at the seams, / this means that soon we will be able to eat for two, / forget the dead and fear the living , / hide behind rotten rags … “.
Okudzhava wrote a lot about the war he visited. And it even exists in one of the most famous poems that came to school matinees – “average”. His gaze contradicted the thunder ceremonial law, and therefore he not only blocked his way, but still punched him. He showed the inhumanity of war and – he became human, in which that very simple little young soldier “schoolboy” settled. Approximately the same as Oleg Dal in Zhenya, Zhenechka and Katyusha (1967), where Okudzhava co-wrote the script.
That war is, of course, a victory in both lowercase and uppercase letters. And there is no poem in which that battle and the emotion of that victory are presented more intensely than in “We need one victory.” But this song has again become a cliché and victory anthem due to its extreme popularity, but that’s not what it’s about. How impossible it is to fit Andrei Smirnov’s great film Belorussky Station (1970) into the cheerful and festive canon.
It is enough to wonder how all this got through the censorship. Even – how he missed the children’s war story “The Front Comes to Us”, published in 1967 by “Children’s Literature” in paperback in one hundred thousand copies with wonderful graphic illustrations by Anatoly Itkin. It’s about the kids running to the front. (So in 1943 my father and his best friend tried to flee to war to defend their homeland at the age of 14, the story is somewhat typical). It’s about children who mess up the train and return to their hometown, but just when the Germans get there – so “the front comes to us”. And somehow, not childishly, not with solemn courage, this story ended with a feeling of fear and anxiety: “And again a deaf emptiness struck. Again a leaf flew from the tree. This looks like the last leaf anyway. And again the star fell … Or maybe it was not a star, but a rocket. War is scary.
That is, about the voice of Bulat Shalvovich. In June, he will be dead for a quarter of a century. His voice is almost inaudible. He was forgotten. A monument, like any other piece of furniture, is not forgotten – it is no longer noticed. And when the nation is accustomed to speaking almost exclusively in raised tones, and the roar, the ringing, the decibel do not allow us to listen to ourselves, the quiet voice of Okudzhava is very lacking. His war and victory were very sincere, humane and humane. In his battle, “Sergeant Petrov, knees crossed / lying like a newborn baby.” He either sleeps in an unbearable trench sleep or is dead. The main thing is that he is a man, not a mass.
For Okudzhava, for his sergeant Petrov, for the “schoolboy”, for the guards special Zhenya Kolyshkin, for the signalman Zhenechka Zemlyanikina, for the nurse Raechka from Belorussky Station, it was worth drinking on Victory Day. And remember the voice of Bulat Shalvovich, who was born 98 years ago:
“There are so many tanks, all kinds of weapons and soldiers.
And the military bands roar so furiously
and the gray-haired generals, though they pour bullets themselves, –
but for quick victories they drink vodka with pleasure.
I’m alone. And there are many of them and they are proud of themselves,
and military bands drown out my voice.
The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the editors’ position.