The Hoover Institution Library & Archives has acquired the papers of Anatolii Gladilin (1935–2018), a prominent Soviet writer whose career spanned the 1950s to the 2000s. Appearing on the literary landscape in 1956 with a well-received prose piece in a leading periodical, Gladilin was one of a group of contemporary young authors breathing life into Soviet literature during the “Khrushchev Thaw,” a period of decreasing censorship and increasing intellectual ferment that began with Nikita Khrushchev’s ascent as first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1953 and ended with his dismissal in 1964. As censorship returned and intellectual life withered under Khrushchev’s successor, Leonid Brezhnev, Gladilin began to publish abroad, with his works being smuggled out of the USSR, and in 1976 he left the country, settling in France.

In Paris, Gladilin found employment with Radio Liberty, composing scripts for its programs, while he also continued to write prose, which he published in Russian in the émigré press as well as in French and English. Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost once again allowed Gladilin to see his novels and short stories published in the USSR and then, following the Soviet collapse, in the Russian Federation, which he visited when it became possible to travel freely across the border without fear of repression.

book cover 'Moscow Racetrack' by Anatoly Gladilin


Gladilin’s papers include drafts of his novels and short stories, memoirs and autobiographical writings, and interviews, many of which offer reflections on Soviet literary life—in particular the 1960s generation of writers—and on the pressure the KGB exerted on intellectuals in the USSR. Gladilin’s work for Radio Liberty is reflected in scripts written for the broadcast service’s programs, as well as in evaluations of its general programming and its potential reception by Soviet audiences. Radio Liberty regularly asked recent émigrés to evaluate programming in this manner to ensure that they were speaking to a typical Soviet listener’s interests and in the proper tone. The collection also includes a good deal of correspondence—always an excellent resource for scholars—between Gladilin and writers and editors such as Sergei Dovlatov, Georgi Vladimov, Mark Popovskii, Boris Polevoi (editor of Iunost’, where Gladilin made his literary debut), Carl Proffer (of Ardis Publishers), and Andrei Sedykh, editor of the leading émigré newspaper, Novoe russkoe slovo (New York).

The Gladilin papers form an excellent complement to the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporate and broadcast records, as well as many other collections emanating from or relating to Soviet literary figures, such as the Irwin T. and Shirley Holtzman collection, the Pasternak family papers, the Alexander Polovets papers, the Andrei Siniavskii papers, and many other collections dealing with Soviet censorship practices, political control over literature, and dissident and émigré culture.

Anatol Shmelev Hoover Headshot

Anatol Shmelev

Robert Conquest Curator for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia / Research Fellow

Anatol Shmelev is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Robert Conquest Curator for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Hoover’s Library & Archives, and the project archivist for its Radio…

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