Willem Weststeijn, born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, in 1943. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Professor of Slavic Literature at the University of Amsterdam.
Fellow (1 September 2002 – 30 June 2003)
The Russian poet Velimir Chlebnikov (1885-1922) is one of the great representatives of the Russian avant-garde movement Futurism. Although less well-known than his fellow Futurist Vladimir Majakovskij, he was the most influential poet of the group, his work still inspiring many contemporary Russian poets. Chlebnikov’s work is rather difficult, as it reflects his wide reading and diverse interests, ranging from Egyptian and Old Slavic mythology, to linguistic theories and non-Euclidian geometry. Over the past eighty years, much has been written about his work, particularly at the time of his death, in the eighties, when a number of dissertations appeared by Western Slavists and at the end of the nineties, when Russian scholars could study the poet at last without being hampered by censorship. My work at NIAS was concerned with taking stock of the existing Chlebnikov criticism and writing a study of the critical reception of this great Russian poet. Halfway through my NIAS year I started a second project: a book of essays (most of which have already appeared in the Dutch press) on Russian nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. This book will appear in the autumn of 2003.