Gaito (Georgy) Ivanovich Gazdanov (1903-1971)
The prose writer, literary critic.
Gazdanov is known as a Russian writer. He wrote about his native language: " I do not speak Ossetic language, though my parents speak it perfectly. I studied at the Paris University, but Russian remained my native language".
Gazdanov was born on November 23, in Saint-Petersburg in the well-off family of Ossetic origin, but a Russian one by culture, education and language. The father's profession - forest warden - forced family to move around the country a lot, therefore the future writer spent only his childhood in Saint-Petersburg, and then he lived in different cities of Russia (in Siberia, the Tver Province etc.). Gazdanov frequently visited his relatives in Caucasus, Kislovodsk.
His school days Gazdanov spent in Poltava, where he studied one year in the Military School; and Kharkov, where since 1912 he studied in gymnasia.
In 1919, when he was sixteen years old, Gazdanov joined the Vrangel's Voluntary Army and fought in Crimea. He served in armored train. When the
army retreated, Gazdanov left Russia with the army, firstly to Gallipolis, then to Constantinople. Here he met his cousin, a ballerina, who had emigrated
even before the revolution and together with her husband lived and worked in Constantinople. They helped Gazdanov a lot. Here he continued study in
gymnasia in 1922. Here, in Constantinople, he wrote his first story - "Hotel of the Future". The gymnasia were transferred to the city of Shumen in Bulgaria, where Gazdanov graduated in 1923.
In 1923 he came to Paris, where he lived for thirteen years. To earn his living, Gazdanov was doing any work: a loader, locomotives washerman and worker at Citroen factory etc. Then 12 years he worked as a taxi driver. During these twelve years Gazdanov wrote four of nine novels, twenty-eight of thirty-seven stories, to write the rest he spent another
At the end of 1920s and in the beginning of 1930s Gazdanov studied four years at the history and philology department of Sorbonne, where he studied
history of the literature, sociology and economic sciences.
In the spring of 1932 under M.Osorgin's influence Gazdanov joined the Russian Masonic Lodge "Northern Star". In 1961 he became the Master of the Lodge.
In 1930 Gazdanov's first novel "Evening At Claire" was published, and the writer was proclaimed the man of talent. All the emigration praised the novel. Gazdanov began to publish stories, novels together with Bunin,
Merezhkovsky, Aldanov and Nabokov in the "Modern Notes" (the most authoritative and respectful magazine of emigration). He actively
participated in the literary association "Коchevie".
In 1936 Gazdanov goes to Riviera where he met his future wife Gavrisheva, nee Lamzaki (from rich Odessa family of the Greek origin). During 1937-1939 he came there each summer, to Mediterranean sea, having the happiest years of his life.
In 1939 when the Second World War broke up, Gazdanov stayed in Paris. He lived through the fascist occupation and helped those who were in danger. He
participated in the Resistance movement.
During this time Gazdanov wrote a lot: novels and stories. But only one thing, that was written at that time was recognized - novel "Phantom of Alexander Volf" (1945-1948).
After the war the book "Buddha's Return" was published and had a big success and brought popularity and money. Since 1946 Gazdanov earned his living by literary work only, but sometimes additionally working as a night taxi driver.
In 1952 Gazdanov was offered to become an employee of new radio station - "Svoboda". He accepted this offer and worked there from January 1953 till his death. In three years Gazdanov became the editor-in-chief of news (in Munich), in 1959 he came back to Paris as a correspondent of the
Parisian bureau of "Svoboda". In 1967 he again transferred to Munich as a senior editor and then the editor-in-chief of Russian service.
When Gazdanov visited Italy, he fell in love with this country, particularly with Venice. He was coming here each year.
In 1952 the novel "Night Roads" and then "Pilgrims" were published. His last published novels were "Awakening" and "Eveline and Her Friends", he
started them in 1950s, but completed only in the end of 1960s.
Gazdanov died of lung cancer on December 5, 1971 in Munich. He was buried at Russian cemetery Sainte-Genevieve-De-Bois near Paris.