Monday, October 29, 2018

The drama of survival …

… His Own “Final Thing”: On Varlam Shalamov’s “Kolyma Stories” - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 In the early 1980s, John Glad published two volumes of Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales in English, but supplied little context for Western readers. Because his work was often discussed in the context of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, Shalamov was judged a documentarian of Stalin’s camps. The new translation by Donald Rayfield, the first of two volumes, contains 86 stories and for the first time in the West offers a true picture of Shalamov’s artistic accomplishment. Chekhov’s most reliable biographer and the translator of Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls, Rayfield in his introduction extols the “relentless power of these works, in which the author refuses to soften or mitigate anything.” Readers should be warned: Kolyma Stories is not for the naïve or faint-hearted. The suffering, though artfully rendered, is unending.

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