Serapion Brothers By Shulga, Jekaterina
The Serapion Brothers was a collective of writers who formed a group in Petrograd in 1921 under the leadership of Evgeny Zamyatin and Viktor Shklovsky. The group was named after Serapion—a hermit who believed highly in creativity—from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s collection of stories The Serapion Brethren (1819–1821). The group members were united by their belief in freedom of creativity and the rejection of ideologically controlled literature, rather than through a devotion to a singular vision or artistic style; their individual writing styles differed widely.
The emergence of the Serapion Brothers was enabled by the more liberal atmosphere of the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy period (NEP, 1921–1928). The group had its first meeting on 1 February 1921 at the House of Arts in Petrograd; the Serapions were united by their location as much as by their artistic inclinations. The original group included Nikolai Tikhonov, Veniamin Kaverin, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Victor Shklovsky, Vsevolod Ivanov, Elizaveta Polonskaya, Ilya Gruzdev, Mikhail Slonimsky, Lev Lunts, Vladimir Pozner, Nikolay Nikitin, and Konstantin Fedin.