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Published in: Society 3/2022

26-05-2022 | Forum Article: Russian Regress: Reading Victor Zaslavsky in a Time of War

Shalamov’s New Prose

Author: Victor Zaslavsky

Published in: Society | Issue 3/2022

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Abstract

Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov, born in 1907, was a Soviet dissident author whose magnum opus, Kolyma Stories, reflects the fifteen years he spent in the Gulag, including six years as a slave in the gold mines of Kolyma. The article traces Shalamov’s travails, beginning with his first arrest, in 1929, for participating in a student group that clandestinely published the so-called “Lenin’s Testament,” a text delineating the inadequacies of the Party leadership and recommending the removal of Stalin from the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. In 1952 Shalamov, still in exile, succeeded in sending two collections of poetry written in Kolyma to Boris Pasternak, then living in Moscow. Pasternak received the poetry, which at the time had no chance of getting published, with enthusiasm. Thus began a correspondence between Pasternak and Shalamov about the dehumanizing effects of totalitarian rulership and the obligations of the writer to capture the political realities of the twentieth century.
Footnotes
1
Founded in 1934 by decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Union of Soviet Writers, by officially recognizing professional writers, poets, critics, and other literary workers, extended Party and State control over Soviet literature.
 
Literature
go back to reference Salamov, V. 1990. I racconti di Kolyma, Palermo: Sellerio. Salamov, V. 1990. I racconti di Kolyma, Palermo: Sellerio.
go back to reference Shalamov, Varlam. 2018. Kolyma Stories, trans. Donald Rayfield. New York: NYRB Classics. Shalamov, Varlam. 2018. Kolyma Stories, trans. Donald Rayfield. New York: NYRB Classics.
Metadata
Title
Shalamov’s New Prose
Author
Victor Zaslavsky
Publication date
26-05-2022
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 3/2022
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-022-00719-7