The University of Chicago News Office
April 15, 1996 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Renowned Russian Poet and Novelist Yevtushenko to Speak April 18 at the University of Chicago

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, one of the most respected literary figures of the former Soviet Union, will speak at the University of Chicago on his vision of Russia’s past and future.

He will present the William Vaughn Moody Lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in Max Palevsky Cinema at the University of Chicago. The lecture, “Russia Between Past and Future: A Reading From Two Books–Don’t Die Before You’re Deadand Premorning,” is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Yevtushenko’s most recent book, the mordantly funny Don’t Die Before You’re Dead(Random House, 1995), is an autobiographical novel capturing the events leading up to and surrounding the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991.

On the second day of the three-day attempt by hard-line Communists to derail reform, Yevtushenko himself stood on the balcony of the Russian White House next to Boris Yeltsin and read what he called “my very best bad poem” in support of reform. In 1993, he was awarded the Russian Defenders of Freedom Medal for his participation in the 1991 coup resistance.

The failed coup helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Don’t Die Before You’re Dead,Yevtushenko writes, “Without knowing what freedom was, we had fought for it, the imagined beloved of our intelligentsia. Without ever having seen its face . . . we had imagined it would be beautiful. But freedom has many faces, many mugs, and some of them are unbearably repulsive.”

Yevtushenko has written more than 40 volumes of poetry, autobiography and fiction.He is the director of several films, including I Am Cuba and Stalin’s Funeral.
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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