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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  7,153 ratings  ·  556 reviews
« Limonov n’est pas un personnage de fiction. Il existe. Je le connais. Il a été voyou en Ukraine ; idole de l’underground soviétique sous Brejnev ; clochard, puis valet de chambre d’un milliardaire à Manhattan ; écrivain branché à Paris ; soldat perdu dans les guerres des Balkans ; et maintenant, dans l’immense bordel de l’après-communisme en Russie, vieux chef charismati ...more
Paperback, 489 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by P.O.L.
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Marc A lire en français. C'est très bien écrit.…moreA lire en français. C'est très bien écrit.(less)

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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,153 ratings  ·  556 reviews

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Adam Dalva
Wild ride memoir of a figure who can’t be pinned down. This is the most effaced I’ve seen Carrere the narrator (even in the superior THE ADVERSARY, I feel his presence. His main intervention is with the one central question that keeps recurring: Are we following a vile sociopath, or a brilliant chameleon? Limonov is at once racist, facist, and gay icon, Buddhist writer and jingoistic combatant. I am sure that he is a less rollicking figure than the cover text would have you think.

I was disturbed
Steven Godin

It didn't me long (about twenty pages I think) to discover that Russian renegade Eduard Limonov was a bit of a dickhead. No sooner had I thought 'OK, maybe he isn't that bad afterall' I wanted to kick him where it hurts moments later. That's not to say I didn't relish in reading of his exhilarating escapades, because I did. And that really is all down to Carrère's verve and passion for his subject. There were times when even he had a distaste for him, and he sits on the fence for the most p
Brendan Monroe
I hate writing a review for a three-star book. It can be great fun to write about the books you really didn't like and to write about the books that you really did like, but it's writing about the books that leave you feeling rather indifferent that's the challenge, and this is exactly how "Limonov" made me feel.

The problem with the book is no small one: it's Limonov himself.

Limonov, the "radical Soviet poet" heralded in the book's insanely long subtitle, is simply one of the most unlikeable cha
Lee Klein
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A unique first-person biography that covers exactly what the subtitle says it’s about. A sort of modern picaresque about a pesky, punker Russian poet who believes he's destined for greatness but for the most part finds himself down and out. About complexities of character and the nature of reality when skewed by ambition and either/or ideation about everyone else. Got it because it was highly recommended to me within a few weeks by three writers whose opinions I fully trust. Almost quit it about ...more
Vicky "phenkos"
Unable to get hold of a copy, I read a Kobo preview of this book, which I discovered quite by chance, whilst browsing through a list of titles. The name "Limonov" struck me as vaguely familiar. After a few moments, I remembered: Limonov, of course, the Soviet poet and gay icon of the 80s! An alluring figure that was a "bum" in New York and the darling of French intellectuals. What I didn't know, and found out from Carrère's book, was that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Limonov had fough ...more
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sort of dual literary/historical biography and autobiography, Carrere recounts the life of a shockingly worldly right wing agitator while at the same time discussing aspects of his own life, of how Russia in the 90s looked to actual Russians, and of his own simultaneous admiration and disgust with his subject.

Limonov is sort of like a punky Russian Celine: a misanthropic fascist whose disgust with the world comes from having seen and lived in so many bizarre, twisted parts of it that it boggle
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A weird book about a really weird and unsympathetic man. I’m not sure that Limonov is worth a book, but if he is, it sure was written by the right guy. The book with its stupid hero is well-written, exciting, surrealistic and funny. I totally get the hype.
David Helgason
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dizzying read. Had to check several times that, yes, it’s not a made-up allegory on something or other... but an actual biography.
Bernardo Kaiser
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
There's nothing wrong with having a miserly, nasty person as your main character. Look at Blood Meridian, this litany of terrible people. Rabbit Run, the slowly unraveling of one of the most egocentric, irresponsible characters in modern literature. Or Journey to the End of the Night, where the hatred of the narrator for every single person is palpable. All great books. No work needs to be moralizing.

However, there's a line between writing on characters of low morals and lionizing them. It's cl
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was good.

Well the first part was great, and by great I mean really great. I would have rated five stars if it wasn't for the second part. But we all know Carrère, he wants to make us think that he's such a genius (which he maybe is I don't know), so he talked about his life, he tried to make himself an historian (which was really not good, I got bored and didn't understand, even though I studied Russian history), and it didn't work.

Apart from that, I have to say that I like Carrère's style in
Amy David
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading this, I cared a lot less about Limonov himself and more about the experience of growing up in the final years of the Soviet Union and how policies viewed as progress by the West were often devastating to the Russian working class. The author's own experiences growing up in France are set out as a contrast, and he is tempted, at times, to make Limonov into a hero, but ultimately presents a measured portrait of radicalization while coming to terms with the fact that Limonov does, at ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book only halfway and then decided I have a better use of my time.

it is very very linear. Limonov did this. then he did that. the following day he went there. he did this. then he did that. the end.

Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe, 2016
It's not quite a traditional biography, but it is a fascinating & fast-moving look at the man (admirable? reprehensible? both? neither?). Worth reading, especially for fans of world/international politics, outcasts, & rabble-rousers.
Michael Balmer
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book totally overwhelmed my expectations. I picked it up following a friend’s
suggestion and, never having heard of Eduard Limonov, an obscure Russian writer, a social outcast with an obnoxious personality, I honestly did not expect to like his biography.

Maybe this book would be better described as a fictional memoir since most of the events are not fact-checked, but rather based on Limonov’s own writing and it is not always clear whether he can be completely trusted, especially since he ha
Will R
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't often read non-fiction, but this is an extremely compelling portrait of not only a fascinating man but the country from which he comes. ...more
Carol Switzer
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Limonov is a crazy Russian guy that does literally everything, tells everyone, and is still a real politician. Political correctness does not play a role. Apart from the wild life he leads, for me, the most interesting part was the peek into what happened in the transition from Soviet Union to Russia, those years when the wall came down, and hi end shopkeepers everywhere in the world began to have Russian-speaking salespeople. This is a biography but not really. It pieces together Limonov’s life ...more
Bryan Fox
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a fascinating read about a fascinating character - it's always a pleasant surprise when non-fiction brings you all the suspense and drama of a novel ...more
Chris Molnar
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Time is too fresh to have rehabbed Limonov, he's only been dead a year, and only a few of his books were ever even translated to English, all impossible or near impossible to find today. In life he never kowtowed to the idea of what a respectable writer should be, past anything admirable, into absurdity and worse. Until this month's release of the new Adam Curtis documentary, which features him as a main character, I don't think anybody in the English-speaking world had tried to reconcile his bi ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french
The full title says it all: "The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia".
It's a fantastic book, a biography, defined as a novel by Carrere, intersected with bits of memoir of Carrere. Usually, I dislike when someone dealing with someone other then himself puts himself in the article/interview/book, but here it sheds some light on Limonov and works wonderfully well. He discusses art, sex, ambition, f
Vuk Trifkovic
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think it's coincidence that biographies of Limonov and D'Annunzio garnered so much attention.

To be frank, I'm probably more enthused about the book because I had so many prejudices about Limonov. Obvious biases notwithstanding in Carrere's book, I feel I get a better sense for the character now.

It is confusing what to say about the book itself. Most of the book is basically a digest of Limonov's writing. Which felt bit superfluous. I felt I should have, you know, been reading Limonov him
Scott Munden
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I particularly enjoyed this book by Carrère. It's a fascinating window on Soviet Russia/Russian Federation of the last 40 years. It's also a strangely depressing book (depressing in a good way, if that makes sense to any of you). I couldn't help but think of these lines from Neil Young:

"See the losers in the best bars
Meet the winners in the dives
Where the people are the real stars
All the rest of their lives."
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting biography of Limonov - starting with his childhood in the USSR in the 60's, going through his time in the US from 1974, his literary success in France in the end of the 80's as well as his role in the Balkan wars with the Serbian militia to end in jail under Poutine. An extraordinary (literally) life, and a beautifully written book, where Carrère and his writing process is very present.
À lire!
Blue Tango
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
It is interesting to have an overview of the recent Russian history, a part from that I didn't find The limonov described very interesting or insightful character. On top of that Carrere's style is, in my opinion, more focused on showing off than on communicating sth and looks quite self-promoting and narcissistic to me.
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If there are other books like this one, I'd like to find them and read them. ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it did not like it
What a shameful shame.
Damien Travel
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With « Limonov », by French novelist Emmanuel Carrère, we get to look into the second part of the Soviet history. This superb fictionalized biography – which earned the Prix Renaudot in France in 2011 – tells the story of Edouard Limonov, born in 1943. By following this atypical individual, writer and poet, dissident and adventurer, Carrère helps us discover the reversal of fortunes and sometimes the contradictions of life in Russia before and after the fall of Communism. Limonov, whose father i ...more
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

By and large this is quite a story and what a life this man led. Limonov was many things to many people at many times, Kharkovite bohemian, a tailor, author, convert, poet, prisoner, politician?...pretend soldier?...lover, husband, father, fascist, communist and capitalist?...

In many ways this has all the hallmarks of a sprawling Victorian novel or bildungsroman epic. Zapoi (extended Russian drinking sessions which last days) tales, which spawned all sorts of monsters and disasters. With many ex
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Carrere is always trying to explain/express/discover what it is like to be alive by writing biographies of people in which he sees some shadow of himself and also writing about that shadow. They are dueling biographies/autobiographies. It is not really self obsessed because he is looking for something larger than the self.
‘…the Buddhists ... insist on the necessity of distinguishing, in moral conduct, the righteous from the depraved. But even if I spend my time establishing such hierarchies, and
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then a book falls into your lap by chance, for no apparent reason. You decide to read this book even though you know nothing of its author or content. And within the first 10 pages you know you've uncovered gold.
"Limonov" was a birthday present from my brothers and is the best book I read all year. Interesting, engaging, easy flowing, it works on so many levels. Limonov's life unravels in the context of momentous historical changes both for the USSR and Europe. It is the life of a
Paul L Kane
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly written and brilliantly translated. In Limonov Carrere propels Lermontov into the new Russian empire... a hero for our time who is at once the anti-hero. A man who we want to hate but who a small part of us, a part we don't really like, would love, for a moment, to be. And that makes us shiver.
Maybe one of the best books on the evolution of modern Russia and, surprisingly, on the meaning of yoga.
Full of beauty, of ugliness, of waste, of joy, of horror, of hatred and of anger. Hatred
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Emmanuel Carrère is a French author, screenwriter, and director. He is the son of Louis Carrère d'Encausse and French historian Hélène Carrère d'Encausse.

Carrère studied at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (better known as Sciences Po). Much of his writing, both fiction and nonfiction, centers around the primary themes of the interrogation of identity, the development of illusion, and the

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“Later bad things will be said about Stalin; he’ll be called a tyrant and his reign of terror will be denounced. But for the people of Eduard’s generation he will remain the supreme leader of the people of the Union at the most tragic moment in their history; the man who defeated the Nazis and proved himself capable of a sacrifice worthy of the ancient Romans: the Germans had captured his son, Lieutenant Yakov Dzhugashvili, while the Russians had captured Field Marshal Paulus, one of the top military leaders of the Reich, at Stalingrad. When the German High Command proposed an exchange, Stalin responded with disdain that he didn’t exchange field marshals for simple lieutenants. Yakov committed suicide by throwing himself on the electrified barbed wire fence of his prison camp. *” 2 likes
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