“I didn’t understand what it meant to be a tool of propaganda: children could not know,” recounted famous Russian writer Maria Rybakova as she described her childhood fascination with legendary Soviet child-poet Nika Turbina to EHU students. Rybakova's newest book, First Draft of a Human Being, which she presented recently at EHU, was inspired by the life and works of Turbina.
During her visit to EHU, Rybakova explained that the book is set in the Soviet Russia of her childhood in the 1980s. It is based on the story of the phenomenally popular Turbina who, after touring the country and then the world giving poetry readings for audiences of thousands, was soon forgotten and had difficulty coping with a “normal” life.
“In the spiritual desert which was the Soviet state, people wanted to believe in a messiah. In the situation when grown-ups were infantilized by the system, there was a huge interest in prodigy children. When the first sprouts of democracy started to grow, this admiration subsided. Now, in Putin’s Russia, it is experiencing a rebirth: an interest in ‘indigo children’ [said to possess unusual, even supernatural traits], for example,” Rybakova told the students.
Rybakova also conducted a master class at EHU on reading, understanding, and interpreting Czeslaw Milocz’s text, Dostoyevsky and Svedenborg.
Maria Rybakova hails from a famous Russian literary family. She is the only daughter of literary critic Natalia Ivanova, deputy editor of the journal Znamya, and granddaughter of Russian writer Anatoly Rybakov. She received her PhD in classics from Yale University and teaches at San Diego University (United States).