Left Russia with his parents after the October Revolution 1917. Settled in England, lecturer in Russian literature at London University. Wrote the best history of Russian literature in the English language.
Close to M. Tsvetaeva. Became a left-wing intellectual. Joined the British Communist Party, 1930.
Returned to the Soviet Union, 1932. At first allowed to continue scholarly work, but soon denounced by Stalinist critics as a White Guard in 1935, after he dared to criticize Fadeev, a classic exponent of socialist realism. Arrested, 1937.