Vladimir Alexandrov

B.E. Bensinger Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Vladimir Alexandrov specialises in Russian prose and Russian-American relations in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is currently working on a biography of Boris Savinkov (1879-1925), a revolutionary, writer, and political activist who waged wars against the tsar, Lenin, and the Bolsheviks, all of whom he saw as equally tyrannical. Winston Churchill, who knew and admired Savinkov, included an essay about him in his book Great Contemporaries, in which he claimed that “when all is said and done . . . few men tried more, gave more, dared more and suffered more for the Russian people.”

Alexandrov’s previous book, The Black Russian, presented the biography of Frederick Bruce Thomas (1872-1928), the son of former slaves in Mississippi who became a multimillionaire entrepreneur in tsarist Moscow, lost everything during the Bolshevik Revolution, and reestablished himself in Constantinople as the “Sultan of Jazz.” His other books include Limits of Interpretation: The Meaning of Anna Karenina, The Garland Companion to Vladimir Nabokov, Nabokov’s Otherworld, and Andrei Bely: The Major Symbolist Fiction.

Alexandrov grew up in a Russian émigré family, and after getting Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Geology, went on to receive a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. He has taught in the Slavic Department at Harvard University, and has been teaching courses in Russian literature and culture at Yale since 1986.