Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Eduard Limonov (1943-2020)

Eduard Limonov died of cancer on March 17, 2020. Limonov was not himself a Traditionalist, but between 1993 and 1998 he worked with Russia's leading Traditionalist Alexander Dugin (seen here in an early photograph with Limonov, R) in the National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Limonov was also editor of Limonka (Grenade), the NBP newspaper, in which Dugin wrote.

Alexander Chernykh noted in the Russian newspaper Kommersant that an obituary was meant to tell the story of the life of the deceased, but in the case of Limonov, every Russian already knew that life anyhow. For those outside Russia who do not know the story, Limonov was a dissident poet and writer who went into exile from the USSR in New York, a period of his life that formed the basis of his best-known novel, It's me, Eddie (Это я — Эдичка), written in 1976, published in Paris in 1979, and then in Russia in 1991. It's me, Eddie, with its foul language and highly-colored sex scenes, both shocked and entertained the Russian public. It is available in English translation.

After returning to Russia following the collapse of the USSR, Limonov combined writing with political action that was quite as shocking and, for some, quite as entertaining as his writing. He started the NBP with Dugin and the musician Yegor Letov in 1993, and another musician, Sergey Kuryokhin (1954-96), soon also joined the NBP leadership. Dugin, however, broke with Limonov and left the NBP in 1998.

The NBP carried out a number of dramatic provocations, and Limonov was arrested in 2001 under terrorism charges. The terrorism charges were dismissed, but Limonov was still convicted for illegal possession of weapons, and jailed until 2003. On his release, he continued to write and lead the NBP, which was banned as an extremist organization in 2007 and then refounded as Other Russia (Другая Россия), which still exists.

In an interview after Limonov's death, Dugin described him as "a man of his time, of a world that no longer exists," and as an eternal teenager. "He remained true to himself," said Dugin, and "died at the age of 14."

Although it is the NBP that matters for the history of Russian Traditionalism, Limonov will be remembered primarily for his writing.

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