Walpurgis Night, or the Steps of the Commander

Walpurgis Night, or the Steps of the Commander

Yale University Press

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A Tragicomedy in Five Acts

The first major English translation of a masterful seriocomic theatrical work by one of the most prominent writers of the Soviet epoch

Walpurgis Night, by acclaimed Russian writer Venedikt Erofeev, is considered a classic in the playwright’s homeland. Erofeev’s dark and funny five-act satire of Soviet repression has been called the comic high-water mark of the Brezhnev era. Walpurgis Night dramatizes the outrageous trials of Lev Isakovich Gurevich, an alcoholic half-Jewish dissident poet confined by the state to a hospital for the insane. In “Ward 3”—a microcosm of repressive Soviet society—Gurevich deploys his brilliant wit and ingenuity to bedevil his jailers, defend his fellow inmates, protest his incarceration, and generally create mayhem, which ultimately leads to a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

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Venedikt Erofeev (1938–1990) was prominent in the Russian postmodernism movement and a major literary figure in Soviet underground culture. His prose poem, Moscow to the End of the Line, has been translated into numerous languages. 

Marian Schwartz is a prizewinning translator of Russian fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art.


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