Recalling Solzhenitsyn, the genius of socialist realismRoundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits
What I most remember from my first reading of"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (published in 1962 in the journal Novy Mir) isn't just the feeling that its author had miraculously circumvented the censors, but the thrill of confronting an astonishing stylistic tour de force. Here was a realistic story of labor camp life, based on Solzhenitsyn's own eight years in various camps, that leapt off the page in a living idiom that in places was racy to the point of obscenity, an unheard-of phenomenon in published Soviet literature and rare in Russian literature of any period. The language was rich in folk idioms and allusions, and laced with ingenious neologisms. Their effect on sophisticated Moscow palates can be summed up in a probably apocryphal remark attributed to Anna Akhmatova:"Oh my God, socialist realism has found its genius."
What Solzhenitsyn had done, in fact, was wrest from the dead language of socialist realism a powerful colloquial style that proved an ideal instrument for mirroring the harsh world of the camps and infusing it with a moral and ethical perspective antithetical to Communism. His hero, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, was a striking new kind of Everyman, a Russian Sancho Panza or Good Soldier Schweik, whose sly resourcefulness embodied the plight of the Russian people under Communist rule. The"small compound" of the camp became a microcosm of the"big compound" of the country as a whole, and readers instantly understood the comparison....
comments powered by Disqus
- 10 questions and answers about America’s “Big Government”
- Lithuanian nationalists celebrate Holocaust-era quisling, Pepe the Frog near execution site
- Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelts remain history’s best presidents in survey
- Winston Churchill essay on 'aliens' found: 'British Bulldog' had a philosophical streak
- Doppelgänger ethics: Why Austria arrested a Hitler double
- Israeli schools' history lessons create good soldiers, says pundit
- Yuval Noah Harari foresees a god-like future for humans
- Published Historian Of Spain Indicted By A Federal Grand Jury For Possession Of Child Pornography
- Stephen F. Cohen continuing his lonely campaign to stop the media from "Kremlin-Baiting President Trump”
- Seven Books Named as Finalists for the 2017 $50,000 George Washington Prize