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Guide to the Sasha Sokolov Collection
Mss 117  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sasha Sokolov Collection
    Dates: ca. 1975-1991
    Collection number: Mss 117
    Creator: Sokolov, Sasha, 1943-
    Collection Size: 3.6 linear feet (9 document boxes and 13 audiocassettes)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: Collection contains biographical and bibliographical information, writings, interviews, speeches, lectures, photographs, and tapes relating to the writer Sasha Sokolov.
    Physical location: Del Sur.
    Languages: English, Russian

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description, folder title, box number]. Sasha Sokolov Collection. Mss 117. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donation from multiple sources, including Sasha Sokolov, Ardis, Donald B. Johnson, and others, 1986-early 1990s.


    Aleksandr Vsevolodovich Sokolov, émigré novelist, poet, and essayist, was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1943. Both parents were, inter alia, intelligence agents at the war-time Soviet embassy there. Exposed after the war, they returned to Moscow where the father became a senior figure in military intelligence circles. Sasha spent a troubled youth. At one time his parents considered placing him in a special school for disturbed adolescents. Nonetheless, he succeeded in entering the Military Institute for Foreign Languages in 1962. Detesting military life, he and a friend attempted to cross the Turmen-Iranian border while AWOL. The authorities apparently failed to realize that he was defecting and merely sentenced him for being absent without leave. Feigning madness to gain a discharge, he spent three months in a mental hospital. Discharged from the hospital and the army in early 1965, Sokolov became a fringe member of Moscow's flourishing literary bohemia, particularly the avant-garde group SMOG (the acronymic Society of Youngest Geniuses). In 1966 the aspiring writer entered the Journalism School of Moscow State University and soon began to publish stories and articles. He also married a fellow student, Taisiia Suvorova. Bored with school, he took a job with a newspaper in the remote middle Volga area. Returning to Moscow in 1969 he worked for Literaturnaia Rossiia, the prestigious paper of the Russian branch of the Writer's Union.
    Meanwhile his stories were attracting attention and he decided to settle in a remote area and write. Sokolov soon found a sinecure as a game warden on a hunting preserve. He spent most of 1972-73 there among the rough hunting and fishing folk who populated the area. It was here that he completed his first novel, the experimental School for Fools in which a schizophrenic adolescent depicts his world. Knowing the novel could not be published in the Soviet Union, he arranged for it to be smuggled out by an Austrian girl. Sokolov wished to emigrate and marriage to a foreign national was one of the few ways to make this possible. This plan met with numerous official obstacles until the lovers staged simultaneous hunger strikes in the town squares of Moscow and Vienna, eventually attracting world press coverage. Sokolov's desire to emigrate had become even stronger since he had learned that A School for Fools had been accepted by Ardis Publishers, a small press founded by Carl and Ellendea Proffer in Ann Arbor Michigan for the promotion of Russian literature.
    Sokolov arrived in Vienna in October 1975. The marriage was short-lived and Sokolov, who was soon to establish his right to Canadian citizenship, emigrated to the U.S., partially to promote his novella which appeared first in Russian and then English (1977) to impressive reviews. He continued work on a new book, Between Dog and Wolf (1980), a phantasmagoric murder mystery set in the deep provinces of the Volga.
    Sokolov sees himself as a wanderer and has constantly moved from place to place about the U.S. and Canada although he has a marked fondness for northern Vermont and adjacent Canada, the region in which he completed his satiric third novel, Palisandriia (1985), known in English as Astrophobia (1989). Sokolov spent much of 1988 in Greece before returning to glasnost Russia where he was lionized during a year-long visit. Seeking a quiet atmosphere, the increasingly reclusive writer returned to Canada, spending time in Newfoundland, as well as Vermont.
    All three of his novels have now been published in Russia, as well as an essay collection entitled Vozhidanii Nobelia ili obshchaya tetrad' [ Waiting for the Nobel, or a Common Notebook (1993)]. Critical study of his work, once limited to the West, now flourishes in the writer's homeland. In 1996, Sokolov was awarded the prestigious Pushkin Prize for his contributions to literature.
    Biography by D. Barton Johnson, October 29, 1997

    Scope and Content of Collection


    The collection contains the following series:
    Biographical/Bibliographical Files. Includes articles and essays about Sokolov, bibliographies and lists of writings, and documents dealing mainly with his emigration from Russia and subsequent residence and visa issues, ca. 1975-1984.
    Ardis (Sokolov's publisher). Includes correspondence and financial documents by and relating to Sokolov and his publisher, ca. 1975-1986.
    Writings by Sokolov
    • Monographs, including corrected typescript drafts and proofs for Shkola dl’a durakov ( School for Fools), Mezhdu sobakoi i volkom ( Between Dog and Wolf), and Palisandria ( Astrophobia).
    • Essays and Articles, ca. 1971-1991.
    • Newspaper Articles, in Literaturnaya Rossia, ca. 1969-1971.
    • Poems, appearing in Kovcheg Literature Journal (Paris).
    Published Interviews with Sokolov, ca. 1981-1985.
    Speeches/Lectures by Sokolov.
    Photographs and Drawings of Sokolov, including a small number of b/w prints.
    Miscellany, including copy of "Balada o tret'em semestre," notes and clippings re Sokolov and Ardis, and reviews and essays on other contemporary Russian authors.
    Tapes. Includes interviews of Sokolov, by Donald Barton Johnson.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Sokolov, Sasha, 1943-
    Authors, Russian -- Canada.
    Authors, Russian -- United States.
    Authors, Russian -- 20th century.

    Related Material

    The Department of Special Collections has first editions and translations in several languages, of Sokolov's work, as well as Ardis publications, all of which are cataloged separately. Titles can be searched on Pegasus (the UCSB online catalog), Melvyl (the University of California online catalog), as well as OCLC and RLIN.