November 01, 2002

Nostalgia for the Ideal

November 20th is the 65th birthday (1937) of writer Viktoria Tokareva. Born in Leningrad, she studied music and screenwriting. Her first novel, Day Without Lies (1966) was hugely popular and all of her successive novels have been immediate best sellers. She has also written over a dozen screenplays, including Mimino, Gentlemen of Fortune, and, more recently (2001), Avalanche.

A “Tokareva publishing boom” in 1995-1996 made her one of the 10 most published Russian authors of all time. In recent years, her work has become increasingly commercialized and identified with romantic novellas, leading to criticism that her work is melodramatic and her characters shallow, that it focuses inordinately on passion and sex.

But Tokareva’s enduring themes for nearly four decades have been everyday life, love, loyalty and human frailty, but most of all love. As she wrote in an introduction to one of her works, “My theme, is nostalgia for the ideal ... It might seem that love does not depend on the political system, but it turns out that everything is embedded in society, and love is no exception.”

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