Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Apricot Jam, and Other Stories, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I mostly snagged this so I can say I have read Solzhenitsyn, even if it's not one of his famous publications. These stories are good snapshots of a certain time and place (pre-1950, post-Revolutionary Soviet Union) and while they differ in major details, they are similar in tone. The tone is dismal, somewhat cynical, and angry at the corruption of the country that continued after the fall (and murder) of the Tsar. Nothing changed, except that different people were running things, and poor people still starved.

I didn't finish all the stories. I got through two that were more-or-less centered on the Eastern Front during World War II, and just couldn't swallow anymore. I wouldn't have made it that far if I didn't know some history of the era, though. The most memorable one for was a very depressing story about a young idealistic college graduate trying to teach Russian literature to children; every year the curriculum changes, the ideology changes, the list of "allowed" authors changes...horrible.

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