lives in France
Vyacheslav Repin was born in 1960. A writer, author of novels, short stories and essays. French, of Russian extraction, he lives in France since 1985. Writes in French and Russian.
Persecuted in the Soviet Union for his political opinions, he was asked in 1985 to leave the country within 48 hours, as a consequence of diplomatic talks on a gaz contract concluded at the time between France and the Soviet Union, and of vigorous press campaigns in his favour launched by the French media.
Soon after completing his university studies in literature and languages, Viatcheslav Répine translated into Russian a number of ‘subversive’ French and German texts, including Antonin Artaud’s Le Théâtre et son Double, which were then widely circulated in hand-typed copies in USSR (‘samizdat’) before being published anonymously.
Some time went by before he was noticed as a writer, his exile being the main cause of this temporary anonymity. One of his short stories, The last hunting outing of Ivan Andreevich, was eventually published in Russia at the end of the 90s in several thick literary journals, and noticed by the critics for its ‘touchy’ subject.
His first novel, The Stars’ Sickness or the Ripe Years of a Misanthrope (1998), written in France and soon published in Russia by a big publishing house, was a major surprise for the critics: it was unusually wide-ranging (130 chapters, 1200 pages), looked at the inner reality of the Russian culture from an unexpected distance, and, furthermore, was entirely at odds with the postmodernists who were then widely popular in Russia.
Among his numerous short stories and novellas, Jean et Jacques and Le Centre du monde are worth a particular mention, as well as existential tales for adults, some of which were published in French.
His novel Antigonia, written in French, appeared in France, and later in Russia in a different version, written by the author himself in his native language.
His first two novels were nominated for most of the major literary prizes in Russia.
His last novel of scope, The Chameleons, written in Russian over more than five years, is currently being translated into French. This is a major and important text of over 900 pages, dealing with today’s Russia, with war, with the Chechen question, among other issues, in the face of existential problems of our (and indeed any) age. Written in a seemingly classical and realist style typical of the author, it takes up eternal themes, whose scope puts the author among writers of universal reach – those who explore the human condition with the greatest care and compassion.
Vyacheslav Repin’s works give the reader a free and sincere outlook at a literature that strives to find an answer to the great questions of our time: the kind of literature that is less and less available to the mass audience in Russia and elsewhere in the world (allegedly because the mass audience is not asking for it), and which consequently requires genuine engagement on the part of the writer.
Vyacheslav Repin has been one of the first writers to bring the spirit of post-industrial literary culture to the Russian literature of the recent years, for the former was largely ignorant of it. His prose is contemporary, distinguished by a critical outlook, open to the outside world, yet paradoxically located within the context. This position is an unprecedented position in literature and this is why the author has been ‘catalogued’ as an outsider by the literary establishment in Russia and elsewhere.
His stylistic and philosophical choices (he writes in both French and Russian and positions himself as ‘a bridge between East and West’) make him an exceptional author. His works subtly but uncompromisingly point at the misguided ways of our epoch, and question the meaning of the torment through which any responsible artist must go today.
a word from the author
«It has now been twenty-five years since I chose to settle in France. Almost a lifetime! Having lived between two worlds, having experienced the Cold War, the ups and downs of today’s life, I have recently founded a publishing house in Paris – not only to defend and promote a certain type of Literature, but also to share my experience…
The life of French people has become part of my existence. The life of the Russians is of no less concern to me. As any other life, in point of fact, for I am a writer… I believe that I am invested with the duty to contribute to a better understanding of my native country, of which I – at last – have perceived and understood things that are often missed by those who live too closely to its reality and who do not have the benefit of the distance that my second life in France has given me. Things that are also missed by those who live too far. The French reader will ultimately grasp that the problems of Russian life may seem to be ‘rougher’, but only because circumstances and countries are different; the human heart is one and the same, that which makes the human being live and die. Likewise for the Russian reader.
The gap that exists between individual people often comes down, in my opinion, to a question of a different order, but one that brings everything back to the required level of gravity: evil… does it really exist? Has it not entered, too, in the Pantheon of men so highly revered? Quite simply. Is it not the fruit of imagination – human imagination? Surely, men and none other make this world impossible to comprehend and to live in...
Literature will never be a cure. But sometimes it gives more meaning to life than it may seem…»
V. Repin about Antigonia
«Is it possible to write about the meaning of literature as one writes about the meaning of life?… My characters ask this question to themselves from the first pages of the book, and quite rightly so. I do not know the answer to that question…
Most people think that to write means to enjoy an exceptional life, to enjoy freedom and ceaseless inspiration. What a privilege it seems to be! In reality, writing is a constant and arduous work, which is never duly rewarded. Because it is about putting right what can be put right, because it is about facing one’s own imperfection – to say nothing of facing the imperfection of the world, which, as we know, is a closed universe, which does no particularly enjoy being dissected. Why not? Because as soon as it is caught in words it is nearly always compelled to mould itself into the text’s orientation…
I state (and I sign) that among genuine writers, few are those that take pleasure in writing. And, which is worse, the better the text, the greater the damage to one’s quills, during the process of writing and after, because true literature, in the end, only interests a few. It may have made some writers ‘rich and famous’ but it has never made anyone who writes happy. This is a fact.
Then, why carry on writing? Why does the written image continue to survive, to occupy and to feed people’s minds?…
I believe that all of us possess the faculty, quite uncanny in itself, to perceive beyond the surface of things the absolute meaning of a different, parallel reality. And some of us cannot bear to keep this vision inside them. They are compelled to reveal it. And so they write. It is as being given another life…
Antigonia speaks of this phenomenon too. I have written it slowly, making my way through constraint and unease… I have done no better than my characters, who are so little like myself, and yet each of whom is my alter ego. Oscillating at the threshold between worlds, after all so improbable.»