, , Russia
|| February 22, 1943
|Died||March 17, 2020
|Last Modifed||Juan Croniqueur|
Feb 22, 2021 09:50pm
Russian - Reactionary - Internationalist - Pro Marijuana Legalization - Pro- gun - Pro-Gay Marriage - Pro-Life - Divorced - Married - Widowed - Imprisoned - Christian - Russian Orthodox - Bisexual -
|Info||Edward Limonov is a great writer and a heroic figure. One of these distinctions might be forgiven; the combination has made him one of the most envied and hated men in Russia. But Limonov thrives on combat, and has just emerged from more than two years in prison looking healthier and happier at 60 than most middleclass 40-year-olds. |
Limonov's whole life has been a struggle between his "iron will" and the rest of the world. Born Edward Savenko, Limonov grew up in the tough lumpenprole Saltovka district of Kharkov. As he recounts in his superb memoir Podrostok Savenko (translated into English as Memoir of A Russian Punk), little Edichka decided after being beaten up by a tougher classmate to become a hooligan, the first of the self-transformations which have marked Limonov's life. A few years later, Edward reinvented himself again as an avant-garde poet, making the jump from Kharkov to underground Moscow, dropping his "boring Ukrainian name" Savenko along the way and re-christening himself Limonov.
Limonov was already an admired poet in the Moscow literary world when he was expelled from the USSR in 1974. Alone in New York, abandoned by his beloved girlfriend Elena and ignored by the American literary "mafia," Limonov transformed himself again, seeking out the most abject sexual roles he could imagine on the streets of Harlem. He described this free fall in his first novel, It's Me, Eddie, one of the biggest Russian books of the late 20th century and oone of the few memoirs in any language which can stand comparison with Rousseau's. In all, Limonov has penned over 30 novels, books and short story and poetry collections, and has been translated into over 25 languages throughout the world.
He returned to Russia in 1992, after reporting on and participating in several ethnic conflicts from Yugoslavia to Moldova and Abkhazia, and became involved in radical Russian politics by aligning himself with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. By 1994 he split with Zhirinovsky and formed, along with the notorious right-wing intellectual Alexander Dugin, the National Bolshevik Party, drawing a young fierce cadre around himself.
In April 2001 Limonov and a dozen of his NatsBols were arrested in Altai, charged with planning to raise and army and invade Northern Kazakhstan. Virtually everyone in Russia expected Limonov to be sentenced to life in prison, but Limonov's iron will was unshaken. In his two years of confinement, he produced eight books and resisted all attempts to cut a deal with a state he considers illegitimate.
In April, 2003, a judge in Saratov astonished Russia by declaring Limonov innocent of the more serious charges against him, finding him guilty only of conspiring to buy firearms. The Chekists were stunned and outraged. Russia's pundits scrambled to lionize the man they'd cheerfully slandered as a dangerous extremist. Boris Berezovsky sent him a congratulatory bottle of cognac. Once again, Limonov's iron will had stood alone against the world -- and won.
Limonov has been a regular contributor to the eXile since our paper's first issue in February, 1997. His columns were only interrupted by his arrest and detention. This issue, we at the eXile are as happy as a cop stopping an unregistered blackass with a pocket full of hundred-dollar bills to welcome our mentor Limonov out of prison and back into the eXile.
To celebrate, we're offering you Limonov's first written account of how he won his freedom.