Cover, “Dialog” 2, 1980. Source: Samizdat Collections, University of Toronto.

“Dialog” [Dialogue]

Dates: autumn 1979 to February 1981

Place of publication: Leningrad

Total number of issues: 3

Editorial board: Kirill Butyrin, Sergei Stratanovskii

Founded in Leningrad by Kirill Butyrin and Sergei Stratanovskii, three issues of the journal were published from autumn 1979 to 1981. The journal’s subtitle was “Zhurnal polemiki i kritiki” (Journal of Controversy and Criticism). The first and second issues contained material from the private correspondence of its founders which illustrated their sensitivity to social, political and religious questions. Eight copies were produced and the second issue featured Tat’iana Goricheva, who had already worked on “37” and “Zhenshchina i Rossii” (Women in Russia).
The second issue was divided into two sections: the first, untitled, contained Voprosy religii. Tri pis’ma (Religious issues. Three letters) and Dva pis’ma o samosoznanii i natsionalizme (Two letters on self-consciousness and nationalism), while the second, Retsenzii (Reviews), considered volumes such as Istoriko-filosofskie voprosy o gnostitsizme (Historical-philosophical questions on gnosticism, 1979) by Marianna Kazimirovna Trofimovaia and Life After Life: The investigation of a phenomenon – survival of bodily death by Raymond Moody, published in 1975. The reviews were written anonymously, the first attributed to a generic “Chitatel'” (Reader).
Voprosy religii. Tri pis’ma contained two undated letters from an anonymous reader “S” (probably Stratanovskii) addressed to “T” (probably Goricheva) together with Goricheva’s reply (who signed herself “raba Bozhiia T” (T, servant of God). The author of the first two letters explains the reasons behind his atheism; they are entitled Pis’mo k khristianke, Letter to a Believer, preceded by the number, and discuss the content of the Holy Scriptures and Nietzsche’s philosophy. Goricheva’s reply affirms her faith with conviction.
Dva pis’ma o samosoznanii i natsionalizme form part of the correspondence between Stratanovskii and Butyrin (represented by the letters “S” and “K”; cf. Parisi 2013) and deal with the philosophical and social meanings of patriotism, nationalism and national self-consciousness. Mention is given to the philosophical letters of Pëtr Chadaaev, Abram Terts’s writings in issue 1 of the Russian emigration magazine “Kontinent” and the English translation of Guido De Ruggiero’s History of European Liberalism (1925).
The letters were preceded by an editorial note explaining when they were written (between 1978 and 1979) and that the authors had been asked to edit the texts before publication without distorting the original content.
The central theme of the third issue in February 1981 was Aleksandr Blok.  It published contemporary responses to his work from a number of writers and intellectuals such as Tat’iana Vol’tskaia, Elena Ignatova, Viktor Krivulin and Stratanovskii himself.
“Dialog” represented Stratanovskii’s and Butyrin’s preliminary attempt to start a samizdat magazine, an attempt which, given its wide success, subsequently led them to found “Obvodnyi kanal”.

Notes: The journal can be consulted online at the Samizdat Collection dell’Università di Toronto. Original copies are kept at the Research Centre for East European Studies of the University of Bremen.

Giuseppina Larocca
[June 30, 2021]

Translation by Iris Karafillidis


  • Dolinin V., Ivanov B., Ostanin B. Severjukhin D. (eds.), Samizdat Leningrada. 1950-e – 1980-e. Literaturnaya entsiklopediya, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Moskva 2003: 402-403.
  • Parisi P., Il lettore eccedente. Edizioni periodiche del samizdat sovietico. 1956-1990, Il Mulino, Bologna 2013: 169.
  • Sabbatini M., “Quel che si metteva in rima”. Cultura e poesia underground a Leningrado, Collana Europa Orientalis, Salerno 2008: 226-227.

To cite this article:
Giuseppina Larocca, Dialog, 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-, <>.
eISBN 978-88-5518-463-2
© 2021 Author(s)
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