Yuri Ivask

Yuri Pavlovich Ivask
Ivask 01.jpg
Born (1907-09-14)September 14, 1907
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died February 13, 1986(1986-02-13) (aged 78)
Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Education Tartu University
Period 1929–1986
Genre poetry, literary criticism

Yuri Pavlovich Ivask (Юрий Павлович Иваск, Jüri Ivask; September 14, 1907, Moscow, Russia — February 13, 1986, Amherst, Massachusetts, United States) was a Russian, Estonian poet and literary critic; in his later years an American scholar of Russian literature.[1]


Yuri Ivask was born in Moscow, son of Pavel Ivask, a merchant of Estonian origins, and his Russian wife. In 1920 the family moved to Estonia where Ivask enrolled into the Tartu University, which he graduated in 1932. In 1943 he was mobilized into the German army but has never made it to the front due to poor health. In 1944, anticipating the advance of the Red Army, he fled to Germany and in 1946 joined there the Hamburg University to study Slavistics and philosophy. In 1949 he moved to the USA where he earned his Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures at the Harvard University. In 1955 Ivask received the American citizenship. In 1969-1977 he taught in the Kansas, Indiana and Washington Universities, then became the head of the Russian literature department in the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. George Ivask (as he was known in the US) retired in 1977.[1][2]


Yuri Ivask started publishing poetry in 1929, occasionally using pseudonyms (B. Afanasyevsky, G. Issako, A.B.), mostly in Put, a magazine founded by Nikolai Berdyaev, who exerted a major influence upon him, as well as Georgy Fedotov. Ivask's first book Severny Bereg (The Northern Shore) came out in 1938 in Warsaw. He characterized his style as 'neo-barocco', while considering himself a follower of Gavriil Derzhavin. Arguably his best-remembered work is Homo Ludens (Играющий человек, 1973), a free-montage autobiography in verse which remained unfinished.[2]

Ivask compiled and edited In the West (На Западе, New York, 1953), an extensive anthology of the poets of the first and the second waves of Russian emigration, published books by Georgy Fedotov and Vasily Rozanov, as well as critical essays and Konstantin Leontyev (1974), a monograph upon the controversial Russian religious thinker. His 1983 poem "A Greeting Word from an Orthodox Man" (Приветствие православного) published in the Polish magazine Kultura in Paris made a great impression on Pope Paul II who invited Ivask to Vatican to have an audience with. The archives of Yuri Ivask are preserved at the Yale University.[1]

Select bibliography


  • The Northern Shore (Северный берег. 1938).
  • The King's Autumn (Царская осень. 1953).
  • The Praise (Хвала. Вашингтон, 1967).
  • Cinderella (Золушка. New York, 1970).
  • The Conquest of Mexico (Завоевание Мексики. 1984).
  • I Am a Petty Bourgeois (Я — мещанин. 1986).
  • Homo Ludens (Играющий человек. 1973, Unfinished. First published in 1988).


  • Had There Been No Revolution (Если бы не было революции, Russkaya Mysl, novel, 1980–1981)
  • The Conquest of Mexico (Завоевание Мексики, short novel, 1986)
  • A Tale About Poetry (Повесть о стихах, 1987)


  • An Apology of Pessimism. K. Leontyev and Nietzsche (Апология песиимизма. К. Леонтьев и Ницше. Novy Grad, 1939)
  • Yuri Rozanov and Rev. P. Florensky (Юрий Розанов и о. П. Флоренский. 1965)
  • The Life and Works of Konstantin Leontyev (Константин Леонтьев. Жизнь и творчество. Bern-Frankfurt. 1974)
  • Things That Leontyev Revered, Valued and Loved (Что Леонтьев чтил, ценил, любил. 1974)
  • A Praise to the Russian Poetry (Похвала русской поэзии. Mosty/Bridges, Munich; Novy Zhurnal/New Journal, New York. 1983–1986. Tallinn, 2002)


  1. ^ a b c Krasavchenko, T. (1996). "Culturology. The 20th Century. Moscow". Cultorology Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
  2. ^ a b "Ivask, Yuri Pavlovich". Russian Sources On-line Dictionary. 1996. Retrieved 2014-01-13.

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