Guide to the Vladimir Lifshits, Asya Genkina, and Lev Loseff Papers

MSE/REE 0016

 

Collection Summary

Title: Vladimir Lifshits, Asya Genkina, and Lev Loseff Papers
Dates: 1890s-2009 (bulk 1940-1990)
Collection No.: MSE/REE 0016
Creator: Lifshits, Vladimir (1913-1978)
Creator: Genkina, Asya (1908-1999)
Creator: Loseff, Lev (1937-2009)
Extent: Approx. 650 items; 7 containers; 3 linear feet
Language: Collection material in Russian
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Rare Books and Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: The papers consist of letters, manuscripts, and phototgraphs, as well as book and journal publications, related to Lifshits, Genkina, and Loseff. The collection also includes material of Irina Kichanova-Lifshits, Boris Semenov, and Mikahil Eremin.

Selected Search Terms

Russian literature--20th century
Children's literature, Russian--20th century
Russian poetry--20th century
Russian literature--Jewish authors
Russia--Intellectual life--20th century

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Vladimir Lifshits, Asya Genkina, and Lev Loseff Papers, [Collection and folder no.], Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Vladimir Lifshits, Asya Genkina, and Lev Loseff papers were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2013. Arranged and described 2014, by Kenneth Kinslow and Natalia Lyandres. Finding aid 2014, by Kenneth Kinslow.

Biographical Note

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Lifshits (1913-1978) was born in the city of Kharkov and spent his youth in Leningrad, where his family moved in 1926. In 1933 he graduated from the insitute of finance and economics at Leningrad State University; however, it was in the field of literature that he made his name as a Soviet poet and playwright. He wrote his first poems in the mid 1930s and published his first collection of verse enitled Dolina in 1936. He served as an officer during World War II, primarily in an infantry battalion on the Leningrad front, and was wounded in battle in September of 1944. In the late 1940s, fearing arrest because of the "struggle with cosmopolitanism" campaign, he moved with his second wife, Irina Kichanova, from Leningrad to Moscow. Eventually he settled in a Litfond (Literary Fund) apartment located near the Aeroport metro station, where he had such neighbors as Viktor Shklovsky and other literary figures. Although he wrote prose, satirical verse, plays, and song lyrics, he is known primarily for his books of children's poetry. He died in Moscow and was buried in Peredelkino. Asya Mikhailovna Genkina (1908-1999), the first wife of Vladimir Lifshits, was also a writer, who published children's books such as Moi Tovarishchi (1943) and Nash Dom (1946) and contributed pieces to such journals as Koster. She remarried, and after the death of her second husband, Ilia Veniaminovich Meizerov, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1977. Asya died in 1999 and is buried in Lebanon, New Hampshire

Lev Lifshits, the son of Vladimir and Asya, was born in Leningrad in 1937. In 1941 he and his mother were evacuated and spent most of the war in Omsk, returning to Leningrad in July of 1944. In 1954 he enrolled in the school of journalism of the Philological Faculty at Leningrad State University. He married fellow student Nina Mokhova in April of 1959, and after graduating that same year, went to the island of Sakhalin to work on a newspaper there. Upon returning to Leningrad, he began work as an editor for the children's periodical Koster and started his own literary career by writing poetry and plays for children. At this time he changed his name to Lev Loseff to avoid confusion with his father.

In 1976 Lev Loseff, his wife, and their two children, Dimitry and Maria, immigrated to the United States. He enrolled at the U. of Michigan as a Ph.D. candidate, while working as an editor at Ardis publishing. At this time he also began publishing poetry in Russian emigre journals such as Ekho, Kontinent, and Russkaia Mysl. In 1979, after defending his doctoral dissertation, he accepted a position in the Russian department at Dartmouth College. Over the next 25 plus years until his death in 2009, Lev Loseff published steadily. His poetry found success in both Russia and the United States, and his scholarly work and critical studies are highly regarded. With regard to the latter, Loseff has written extensively on his long-time friend and Nobel laureate, Joseph Brodsky, culminating in the book, Joseph Brodsky: a Literary Life.

Scope and Content Note

The papers include approximately 650 items, comprised primarily of letters, manuscripts, newspaper articles, photographs, and book and journal publications. Vladimir and Asya, and after them their son Lev, numbered many poets, artists, and literary figures among their friends and acquaintances: Daniil Kharms, Nikolai Zabolotsky, Boris Semenov, Vadim Shefner, Mikhail Krasilnikov, Sergei Kulle, Mikhail Eremin, Joseph Brodsky, Sergei Dovlatov, and Evgenii Rein. Vladimir Lifshits's second wife, Irina Kichanova, who was an artist in her own right, co-authored plays with her husband and wrote a book of memoirs. The papers reflect this rich, cultural context.

Arrangement Note

The collection consists of 4 series: letters; manuscripts; newspaper, journal, and book publications; and photographs. Each of the series is divided into subseries, and materials follow a roughly chronological order within each grouping. Many of the books from this collection have been cataloged separately; see folder 228 for a list, or consult the Notre Dame library catalog for individual titles (Vladimir Lifshits, Asya Genkina, and Lev Loseff Collection).

The first series entitled "correspondence" is divided into family correspondence and correspondence with friends and colleagues. The majority of the letters are letters written to Lev Loseff before he immigrated to the U.S. in 1976. "Manuscripts," the second series, is divided the same way. The bulk of the "family manuscripts" is comprised of Vladimir Lifshits's poetry, Lev Loseff's journal of 1974-75, just before he immigrated, and Irina Kichanova's book of reminiscences. The bulk of the "manuscripts of friends and colleagues" consists of Mikhail Eremin's Stikhotvoreniia later published by Hermitage (Tenafly, New Jersey) and the papers of Boris Fedorovich Semenov (1910-1992), artist, writer, and family friend. "Newspaper, journal, and book publications," the third series, revolves primarily around Vladimir Lifshits: articles about him, journal issues that include his works, and books written by him. With regard to the "photographs," the last series, the majority are phtographs printed from digital images, which the family generously shared with Notre Dame.

Related Material

Another important archive is the Loseff/Brodsky Collection at the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture at Columbia University. The collection at Columbia is centered on Lev Loseff after immigration to the U. S., while the collection at Notre Dame is centered on Vladimir Lifshits, Asya Genkina, and Lev Loseff prior to immigration.

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