Alexander Zinoviev

The radiant height of Russian culture. His Golgotha.

Alexey Blinov, Vice President of Alexander Zinoviev Biography Institute


Alexander Zinoviev – a name restored to Russia – returned home in June 1999 after forced 21 years of exile in order to share the destiny of his nation to the very end.  He is a world renowned Russian thinker, philosopher, poet, artist, and a most eminent ideologist of Russia on the brink of the 20th and 21st centuries. His genius was admired by such outstanding personalities as Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Ashkenazi, Mikhail Shemyakin, Eugène Ionesco, Federico Fellini, Daniel Barenboim, Ekaterina Maksimova, Ernst Neizvestnyi, Valeryi Panov, Kirill Kondrashin, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Mikhail Rudy, Gidon Kremer, Hans-Magnus Enzensberger and many others.

Corps Commander of fighting aviation and distinguished fighter pilot during the Great Patriotic War, Alexander Zinoviev has devoted all his life to the service of the Truth. He has left us a colossal legacy that will require decades to be fully comprehended. The author of “The Yawning Heights”, “The Radiant Future”, “The Madhouse”, “Homo Sovieticus”, “Go to Golgotha” and a number of other worldwide bestsellers has created a new literary genre: the sociological novel.

“Go to Golgotha” is a programmatic novel. It draws the spiritual path of a Russian during a strenuous epoch, when the Soviet social order compelled the best thinkers to flee their state, to adapt to the inconsistent and imperfect society, to embark on internal emigration or to resist to the system on their own. This novel has been translated into European languages and has been enshrined into the golden heritage of the world literature and culture.

The central message of the novel.

This novel is a confession of a “faithful atheist”. On behalf of the main character – a sponger, drunkard, healer, tramp, poet, atheist, lonely rebel, preacher and creator of a new religious doctrine on life, the author attempts to analyze the spiritual and psychological aspects of the Soviet society.

How and what for did a homo sovieticus exist? What were the reasons for his passivity, for his lack of initiative and self-confidence? Not only does Zinoviev draw a expressive picture of life in the period of stagnation but he also proposes some possible scenarios of its further development. The novel is narrated on the background of the Soviet society and presents itself as a sort of recipe “how to remain a saint while living in sin”. We witness the real tragedy of a bright, pure, spiritual, unspoiled person, who is forced to disguise himself as drunkard, drone, poet, preacher and as “faithful atheist”.

Laptev proclaims himself God. Speaking psychology terms, becoming aware of God in oneself signifies the highest level of self-affirmation. Ivan Laptev is not a God who creates the world according to his image and likeness, but a God who happens to live in a world unaware of any likeness. He does not create the world, but he creates himself.

The book raises such key issues of modernity as: spirituality, faith, deceit, death, the meaning of life. And Golgotha becomes a symbol for the path that can choose those who are capable of hoping and believing. A thorny path leading from the Russian heartland of the 20th century to Golgotha. The ascent to Golgotha becomes a privilege for the hero who decides to become God. But people do not let him get upon his Golgotha.

The novel is written in the classical “Zinoviev style” widely using dialogs between the characters: “Laptev-the-God” and his milieu such as his Antipode, his Goddess, town officials, his enemies and admirers and diverse patients.

At the international conference “Le Parvis des Gentils” 2011 in Paris, a dialog between atheists and believers, Gianfranco Ravasi, one of Vatican’s influential cardinals declared with reference to Zinoviev’s poem “The Prayer of  the Faithful Atheist” that such an ethical position shared by “atheists” like Zinoviev should serve as a model for emulation for true Christians. The eminent orthodox missioner Andrey Kuraev called this poem “Gospel for the cheerless.”

“Go to Golgotha”- is a novel about how to conserve one’s personality and remain spiritually alive, how to be an individual in spite of lack of self-confidence, passivity, evil, how to survive among the abomination of existence.

“Go to Golgotha”- is the Russian way out of the spiritual dead-end of the contemporary civilization, a way to make you change and think.

Western literature and cinema have created numerous philosophical works and catastrophe-movies embodying a clear message about the end of the world, the loss of humanity. The evil that allegedly underlies all existence makes the heroes abandon their hopes and aspirations, such as the hope that the good old days might return one day. The issue of death is raised as everyone’s individual problem. The death crescendo that acts as a process of becoming aware of inevitability of death accelerates during the life span and makes the heroes approach the tragic end with dignity and realizing the real meaning of life and the need for true love.

Ivan Laptev, the hero of this novel, aspires to teach happiness to people and gets ready to sacrify himself at Golgotha. But people do neither hear nor understand him and don’t let him ascend his Golgotha. His punishment becomes a complete, universal, thumping, cosmic solitude. “A man always ends up in solitude if he decides to become a Man”.

The ballet ”Yell” is the Russian response to the European quest for the way out from the spiritual dead-end. It is a powerful symbolic world culture event.