Title of the journal:
“Beseda” [Conversation]

Dates: 1983-1993

Places of publication: Leningrad, Paris

Editors: Tat’iana Goricheva, Pavle Rak

Number of editions: 11

Principal authors: Viktor Aksiuchits, Boris Grois, Aleksandr Zholkovskii, Vladimir Il’in, Olivier Clément, Valerii Lepakhin, Veronika Losskaia, Iurii Mamleev, Elena Shvarts

On July 20, 1980, on the eve of the opening of the Moscow Olympic Games, Tatiana Goricheva left the Soviet Union. The previous year Goricheva, Natalia Malakhovskaia and Tatiana Mamonova had founded the first feminist movement, issuing the samizdat publication Zhenschina i Rossiia and, subsequently, the religiously inspired magazine “Mariia”.
In Leningrad, the name of Tat’iana Goricheva was linked, among the vtoraia kul’tura, to the publication of another samizdat magazine, “37”, published from 1976 to 1981 in Moscow and Leningrad on an almost monthly basis (the name of the magazine refers to the street number of the apartment where Goricheva and her husband Viktor Krivulin – poet and member of great importance and influence in the Leningrad samizdat – lived and where, on Fridays, they held religious and philosophical seminars. The works, thoughts and writings resulting from the seminars would also have had an impact on the activity of the tamizdat, and, in particular, for Goricheva, in conceiving the magazine “Beseda”).
Forced to emigrate because of her work in defence of women’s rights, Goricheva settled first in Frankfurt and then in Paris, where she would stay for eight years (until she returned to Russia in 1988). In the West, Goricheva represents the so-called ‘religious renaissance’, a distinctive feature for a generation of Soviet people who moved to the Church “quite unexpectedly”.
In 1983 Goricheva, together with the Serbian writer and philosopher Pavle Rak and the critic Boris Grois (who moved to Germany in 1981), founded in Paris the magazine “Beseda”, conceived “as a meeting point between antiquity, eternity and the most painful questions of modern times, that is, [the magazine aimed] to unite the orthodox patristic tradition with the most incredible and, it might seem, un-Christian moments of modern culture” (Vybor 1989: 36). Editors outlined their declaration of intents in the first issue in 1983: “the ‘Beseda’ magazine aims to publish articles on religious, philosophical and general cultural issues. The magazine intends to publish the works of authors who live in the Soviet Union as well as those who have emigrated. The magazine will also try to make the Russian reader aware of what is happening as regards philosophy and religion in the West” (“Beseda”, 1, 1983).
The eleven issues of the magazine appeared sporadically from 1983 to 1993 (issues 1-11; issues 5 and 6 in 1987; issues 8 and 9 in 1990); Leningrad and Paris are written on the title page as the place of publication. In some cases, the circulation of the magazine reached three thousand copies, the number of pages was variable, but was generally between 200 and 250 (issue no. 10 instead has more than 400 pages).
As regards its structure, the magazine is divided into three main sections: publications (articles, poems and prose by both Russian and foreign authors); materials (transcripts of conversations and/or interviews); announcements on upcoming releases or reviews of published volumes. Some sections appeared more regularly (“Religiia i filosofiia”, “Retsenzii”, “Interv’iu”, with the exception of the last issues), while others varied from issue to issue (“Iz pisem”, “Polemika”, “Kruglyi stol”). Among the contributors there figure the names of well-known authors such as Boris Grois, Andri Volokhonskii, Tat’iana Goricheva, Il’ia Kabakov, Viktor Krivulin, Iurii Mamleev, Evgenii Pazukhin, Aleksandr Piatigorskii, Igor’ Smirnov.  The reader was able to become acquainted with concepts and ideas that later would be also discussed in their native country, and also with the work and thought of the representatives of European religious thought, including Olivier Clément, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Christos Jannaras, as well as that of lesser-known authors such as Georges Bataille, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Emmanuel Lévinas, René Girard, Peter Sloterdijk.
In its organization, the magazine adhered to the double function outlined in the intentions of the new publication, proposing to speak about theology and philosophy, about culture and religion, the Church, about traditional national thought and modern Western thought, striving to “maintain the limit of their interweaving, to trace the fields of convergence and to identify the ends of the threads that connect them” (Orlov 2015: 515).
Although other emigration journals also dealt with philosophical issues (“Vestnik RKhD”, “Kontinent”, “Sintaksis”), “Beseda” was the only periodical to deal exclusively with the history of contemporary thought, so that, in some ways, it can be considered the forerunner of many of the magazines that arose in the years of perestroika (“Nachala”, “Logos”, “Put’”, “Stupeni”, “Volshebnaia gora”).

Notes: Some issues of “Beseda” have been digitized and are available on the site “Vtoraja Literatura: Ėlektronnyi arkhiv zarubezh’ia imeni Andreia Siniavskogo”, managed by Andrei Nikitin-Perenskii, at: https://vtoraya-literatura. com/razdel_2122_str_1.html (last accessed: 31/12/2022). The record of “Beseda” can be consulted in the catalogue of Russian emigration magazines (Svodnyi katalog periodiki russkogo zarubezh’ia) edited by the “Ėmigrantika” project and available at: http://www.emigrantica.ru/item/beseda-beseda-parizh-1983-1993?ysclid=lajnbxgkx6814673721 (last accessed: 31/12/2022).

Chiara Rampazzo
[31st December 2022]


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To cite this article:
Chiara Rampazzo, Beseda, in Voci libere in URSS. Letteratura, pensiero, arti indipendenti in Unione Sovietica e gli echi in Occidente (1953-1991), a cura di C. Pieralli, M. Sabbatini, Firenze University Press, Firenze 2021-, <vocilibereurss.fupress.net>.
eISBN 978-88-5518-463-2 © 2021 Author(s)
Content license: CC BY 4.0