Bely, Andrei [key], 1880–1934, Russian writer. A leading symbolist, he had a close but stormy relationship with Aleksandr Blok. His poetry includes the four-volume Symphonies (1901–8); his best prose is in the novels The Silver Dove (1910) and Petersburg (1912, tr. 1959) and in Kotik Letayev (1922), an autobiographical novel in the manner of James Joyce. He was an experimenter—his involved style often mixes realism and symbolism in complex forms. In his later years Bely was influenced by Rudolph Steiner's anthroposophy. He accepted the Soviet regime, but his works were not well received by Soviet critics. By the mid-1970s Western critics had discovered Bely, and several, including Vladimir Nabokov, proclaimed him the most important Russian writer of the 20th cent. In 1974 new translations of The Silver Dove and Kotik Letayev were published in the United States, and in 1977 a new translation of Petersburg.
See study by J. D. Elsworth (1984).
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