"Anathema" is a tragedy by Leonid Andreyev in seven scenes, often labelled as his most atheist one. It follows the dispute between the devil (called Anathema) and God about the limitations of reason and the secrets of the universe. At the same time, the Jewish protagonist David Leizer is suffering his ascent from rags to riches. For Andreyev, the human mind cannot comprehend a lot of things, such as the meaning of life, immortality, or love. The play explores the arrogance and restlessness of the characters, locked in often futile existential battles with their own selves. Definitely recommendable to fans of Andreyev – and not only.
Leonid Andreyev (1871-1919) has a special place in Russian literature. Labeled by many as the father of Russian expressionism, Andreyev’s style is rich and diverse, blending literary traits from the schools of Symbolism, Naturalism, and Realism. The writer’s fame is mostly felt in his translations of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and through his stories, written in the vein of Edgar Allan Poe. His works, often haunting, dark, and controversial, reaching for the fantastic and the grotesque, include two novels, five novellas, and a number of short stories. The most well-known of them include the story "The Seven Who Were Hanged", the play "Tsar Hunger", and his novel "Sashka Zhegulev".