Gaito Gazdanov's Paris / 52 (Gazdanov and his taxi driver)
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A taxi and its driver, viewed in profile, 1927. Photo by Séeberger (frères).

Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine (archives photographiques) diffusion RMN (photo no. 1FS01543):
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Gaito Gazdanov's Paris / 52

Gazdanov and his taxi driver

The biographical similarities between Gazdanov and his fictional taxi driver suggest that the author used his character to explore aspects of his own personality. But the match between them is far from perfect.

Gazdanov no doubt shared his character’s cynicism to some degree, but his work for the French Resistance and for Radio Liberty would suggest that it didn’t result in the kind of passivity that afflicts the taxi driver. Nor was Gazdanov an intellectual hermit. His published criticism attests to his active participation in the emigre literary milieu of Paris.

There is at least one other indication of Gazdanov’s gregariousness that his taxi driver would have found baffling. In 1930 Gazdanov joined a Masonic lodge and remained a Mason for the rest of his life.

The lodge seems to have functioned as a kind of literary salon and Gazdanov presented several papers there on various subjects. He was apparently the lodge’s mainstay. After his death it disbanded and its members migrated to other lodges.

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