My objivaem zemliu, 1961 (We Tame the Land, 1973)
Zhiv chelovek, 1962 (A Man Survives, 1963)
Sem dnei tvozeniia, 1971 (The Seven Days of Creation, 1974)
Prochanie iz niotkuda, 1974-1982 (2 volumes; volume 1 translated as Farewell from Nowhere, 1978)
Kovcheg dlya nezvanyhk, 1979 (Ark for the Uncalled, 1984)
Zaglyanut v bezdnu, 1986
Dvor posredi neba, 1999
Piatnadtsat’ liet spustia, pr. 1956
Jiv chelovek, pr. 1965
Stazha chertu, pr. 1971
Posyvhye tvoich paralleles, 1970
Samoistreblenie, 1995 (interviews)
Sobranie sochinenii, 1973-1991 (8 volumes; collected works)
Vladimir Emelianovich Maximov (maks-ihm-OV), an important Russian émigré writer of the Soviet era, was born Lev Samsonov in 1930 in Moscow. His father, a Trotskyite, was imprisoned in 1933; he remained in prison for seven years and died after being sent to the front during World War II. Samsonov’s mother also died early in his life, and beginning at the age of eleven, the boy was put in one state orphanage after another. His name was changed to Vladimir Maximov in one of the orphanages, and his date and place of birth were altered; his identification papers bore the false information thereafter. At the age of fifteen, he became a stonemason and was assigned to building projects in Siberia.
After spending some years as a stonemason in Siberia, Maximov worked as a reporter for the Soviet radio from 1953 to 1955. He published his first poems in 1956 and then had the good fortune to work as a reporter for the prestigious Literaturnaia Gazeta in Moscow from 1959 to 1961. After 1961, though he worked on the editorial board of Oktiaber, the official Communist newspaper, Maximov devoted himself to his writing.
When his short novel A Man Survives was published in 1962, Maximov was hailed as a great writer and was immediately admitted to the Soviet Writers Union. The novel tells the story of a young boy who runs away from a labor camp and enters the criminal world. The main character encounters a wide variety of character types, and he survives his share of dangerous experiences. The denouement of the novel shows the young, jaded boy still able to be touched by kindness.
During the years that elapsed between A Man Survives and his next important work, The Seven Days of Creation, Maximov underwent a spiritual and political rebirth. He was secretly baptized by the Russian Orthodox Church, and he became openly anti-Stalinist. He not only grew anticommunist in a general fashion but also opposed outright the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Maximov irritated the authorities further with The Seven Days of Creation, the work that made him famous. His expulsion from the Soviet Writers Union was immediate, and he filed a request for permission to leave the Soviet state indefinitely.
The Seven Days of Creation is a chronicle of the Lashkov family. Piotr Lashkov, at the top of the family tree, is a model Communist Party member, a proud proletarian. Piotr passes through a painful change, though, and by the end of his story, he comes to question the party, its methods, and the fate of his family. An autobiographical element in the chronicle is the story of Vadim, Piotr’s grandson, who is forced into a mental hospital because he joins the Orthodox Church. Maximov, too, was hospitalized for months because of his overt religious beliefs.
Karantin (quarantine), Maximov’s next important work, reflects his preference for the Orthodox Church over the Soviet state. The novella takes place on a train coming from Odessa; because of an outbreak of cholera, the train must remain in the isolated countryside outside Moscow. The main characters experience spiritual awakenings as one character after another expresses the sufferings of life in the Soviet Union.
In 1974, the same year that dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn left the Soviet Union, Maximov and his wife, Tatiana Poltoratskaia, moved to Paris; like Maximov, Solzhenitsyn insisted on the search for religious fulfillment and supported the Orthodox Church in opposition to the Soviet state. That same year, Maximov became the chief editor of Kontinent, a Paris-based journal for the expression of East European and Soviet dissidents from Communist regimes. The journal published such famous writers as Vladimir Kornilov, Andrei Sakharov, and Solzhenitsyn; the latter strongly supported the journal, and his anticommunist views as well as his opposition to Western “liberalism” were shared by Maximov. Andrei Sinyavsky would later oppose the nationalist and ideological bent of Kontinent by founding his own journal, Syn-taksis.
In Paris, Maximov wrote an autobiographical novel, Farewell from Nowhere, while rearing his two daughters, Nathalie and Olga. The book tells in the first person the story of a runaway boy who is treated as a deviant, the son of a criminal. In this novel, Maximov anchors his cause for the search for religious fulfillment by using his own story as an example of life without spirituality, life ruled by totalitarianism.