World Literature

50 Writers. An Anthology of 20th Century Russian Short by Frank Miller, Valentina Brougher, Mark Lipovetsky

By Frank Miller, Valentina Brougher, Mark Lipovetsky

The biggest, such a lot accomplished anthology of its sort, this quantity brings jointly major, consultant tales from each decade of the 20th century. It comprises the prose of formally famous writers and dissidents, either famous and overlooked or forgotten, plus new authors from the tip of the century. the decisions mirror a few of the literary tendencies and techniques to depicting truth during this period: conventional realism, modernism, socialist realism, and post-modernism. Taken as a complete, the tales seize each significant point of Russian lifestyles, heritage and tradition within the 20th century. the wealthy array of issues and kinds can be of super curiosity to scholars and readers who are looking to know about Russia during the enticing style of the fast tale.

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Sample text

The normalization of violence and the reproduction of terror at different levels in life in society is one of the important themes in the Russian short story of the 1960s-1990s. A number of stories from these decades focus on a child being confronted with some form or forms of violence. It is as if a child’s entry into life calls immediately for being taught the “language of hatred” specific to a particular period of Russian history. For example, in Tendryakov’s story, “Bread for a Dog” (written in 1969-1970 but published posthumously in 1988), a small boy is confronted with men begging for a peace of bread during the mass famine of the early 1930s brought on by collectivization and Stalin’s politics of genocide, particularly of the Ukrainian peasantry.

Needless to say, these almost “abstract” short stories with their concentrated, grotesque content and form are meant to convey the cultural and social atmosphere of the Great Terror in the 1930s. A story written in the same period as Kharms’ miniatures, “Lake, Cloud, Tower” (1937) by Nabokov, who emigrated in 1919, uncovers the same kind of “normality” and, indeed, universality of violence, that leads to manifestations of diverse and not necessarily negative feelings, like collectivism and sense of purpose, etc.

There is another form of violence, with no less a significant impact on society, that serves as a dominant theme in many stories. That violence is embodied in the way people communicate with one another, be they related to one another or mere acquaintances or strangers. And normalization of this kind of violence is undoubtedly connected with the normalization of the other forms of violence already discussed above. The theme of communicative violence plays an important role in the literature of the 1920s (as evidenced in the stories by Zoshchenko or Sholokhov included in this volume).

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