King Alfred's Version of St. Augustine's Soliloquies kOt of time getting tonow in Children of the Arbat got sidelined as a result and you learn developments about some of them only in passing
I WILL FINISH THE TRILOGY THOUGH will finish the trilogy though some point Not exactly a pick me up but a great portrayal of how totalitarian power is accumulated and at what cost and how ordinary people are forced into complacency and submission by an extremely repressive political regime Very scary and hopeless and unfortunately true The novel covers just a couple of years during which Stalin
Arrested And Killed Millions and illed millions people in order to secure his power eliminating any person who could potentially pose a threat to him. G of that characteristic combination of sadism sentimentality and cynicism that Dostoyevsky described so well and that seems endemic to the perpetrators of revolutionary terror However his overall analysis is vitiated by a larger fault of interpretation that runs through the novel like a signature tune This is the conviction voiced countless times by both historical and fictional characters and repeatedly endorsed by the author that Stalin alone was the fount of all the Soviet Union's political ills and that the idea of the purges and the manner in which they unfolded sprang fully formed from Stalin's headMoreover Stalin is supposed to have planned the terror and unfolded sprang fully formed from Stalin's headMoreover Stalin is supposed to have planned the terror and plotting its realization from virtually the moment he became a Bolshevik that is to say from before the Revolution A corollary both implied and stated by Mr Rybakov is that Lenin's intentions and policies were completely different and that the Soviet system he fashioned would never have produced such results had it not been for StalinIf this theory sounds familiar it may be because it essentially repeats and enlarges upon the explanation for the terror offered by Nikita Khrushchev as long ago as 1956 when he gave his famous secret speech on the crimes of Stalin to party leaders It also reflects the views of Mikhail Gorbachev and his chief aides in the period of perestroika when they attempted to build on Khrushchev's reforms and reintroduce a controlled liberalization of Soviet society It is no accident therefore that the Arbat trilogy was one of the first literary fruits of Mr Gorbachev's policies and was strenuously promoted by the Soviet leader's cultural establishment as evidence of radical change Amid the resulting publicity Children of the Arbat sold millions of copies in the Soviet Union and achieved virtual best seller status elsewhereBut the claims of political and literary radicalism for that novel and eually for Fear are deceptive just as Mr Gorbachev's claim to be introducing revolutionary change in the Soviet Union turned out to be exaggerated A uick look at the thaw novels of Ilya Ehrenburg and Vladimir Dudintsev for example written during the same period as Khrushchev's secret speech confirms that Mr Rybakov's esthetics come essentially out of the 50's that is to say they reproduce the strategies of Stalinist socialist realism while modifying the political message wrapped up inside And in this case the message though anti Stalinist is by no means radical or revolutionary and has been far outstripped by actual political developments within the former Soviet UnionMORE important Mr Rybakov's account of and interpretation of the purges has long since been outstripped and superseded by other writers' After the works of Mr Solzhenitsyn whose shadow hangs heavily over this book in terms of both form and content of Varlam Shalamov Nadezhda Mandelstam Eugenia Ginzburg and a host of other memoirists not to mention historians like Robert Conuest or Roy Medvedev Fear comes as an anachronism offering too little and too late Further Mr Rybakov's interpretation of the psychology of the victims represents no advance on Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon written as long ago as 1940Despite the pretensions to Tolstoyan spaciousness and grandeur themselves socialist realist in inspiration Fear ably translated by Antonina W Bouis is also utterly pedestrian as a work of literature Mr Rybakov's powers of description are rudimentary and his characters whether fictional or historical are pasted together out of cardboard Neatly divided into good lovable idealists who have not the slightest doubts about Stalin's villainy and bad those who are either taken in by Stalin or often decide cynically to work for him they are almost all designed to illustrate a simple thesis or to act as vehicles for the author's opinionsBy overreaching himself with a novel five times its natural length Mr Rybakov may succeed temporarily in attracting attention than his work deserves That cannot hide the fact that Fear amounts to little than a Soviet soap opera albeit with sinister overtones and a sensational historical backdrop At best it might provide unsophisticated elements of the Russian reading public with a Reader's Digest version of the Soviet terror in a form they can easily assimilate However with the arrival on Russia's bookstands of work by Robert Ludlum and Stephen King even that is increasingly doubtfulMichael Scammell a professor of Russian literature at Cornell University is writing a biography of Arthur Koestl. ,
I fell for these characters when reading Children of the Arbat and was interested to see what befell them next Rybakov does a great job of creating the sense of justified paranoia and I felt like I better understood the Soviet psyche after reading this book I do wish it
had ended less like part of a seriesended less like part of a series Stalins pursuit of a Party cleansing is under way and woe betide those who through bad timing or bad placement get caught arrested tried and either shot or sent to the camps All this at the same time the original group of students are growing up into their own Yuri as NKVD Sasha post exile Varya afar Vadim navigating a world. From Publishers WeeklyIn this seuel to his international bestseller Children of the Arbat Rybakov picks up the story of Sasha Pankratov and his friends from Moscow's fashionable Arbat district as Josef Stalin launches the reign of terror that saw millions of Soviet citizens arrested exiled or shot for counterrevolutionary activities Exiled to Siberia in the previous novel for writing satirical verse in a student newspaper and now forbidden to return to Moscow Sasha migrates to a provincial town where he finds work as a driver Back on Arbat Street his friends Varya Nina Yuri Yadim Lena and Vika grapple with the moral dilemma posed by the purges should they remain silent and tacitly acuiesce or participate in hopes of personal gain Rybakov brilliantly segues from this cross section of the Moscow intelligentsia to a chilling interior monologue in which Stalin plots the destruction of high ranking members of his inner circle Rybakov's complex fascinating repellent and utterly convincing psychological portrait of a demagogue ranks among his finest achievements here which also include the fruitful further development of the intriguing personalities established in Children of the Arbat This dynamic sweeping saga of Stalin's children the first truly Soviet generation captures the fluidity and confusion of the purge years serving as a powerful testament to their legacy of fearCopyright 1992 Reed Business Information IncFrom Library JournalHow could the wholesale murder torture and forced starvation of the Stalin years have been allowed Fear the second novel in a trilogy that began with Children of the Arbat Little Brown 1988 attempts to explain Written over 20 years ago the Arbat Trilogy only recently saw publication in Russian; this is the first English translation Fear tells the story of life under Stalin's dictatorship from the viewpoint of Sasha Pankratov an exiled former student Here Sasha returns from Siberia affording the reader a rare look at life in exile and the traveling conditions in Stalin's Russia Sasha's mother and friends who live in the Arbat section of Moscow form the second strand of the novel The third major character is Stalin himself Each layer of the novel helps to illustrate how deception power and terror can extirpate honor and replace it with madness Highly recommended for all collections of historical fiction Previewed in Prepub Alert LJ 10191 Ruth M Ross Olympic Coll Lib Bremerton WashCopyright 1992 Reed Business Information Inc A Bloody Job but Someone's Got to Do ItBy Michael ScammellPublished September 20 1992FEAR By Anatoly Rybakov Translated by Antonina W Bouis 686 pp Boston Little Brown Company 2495THE example of Tolstoy's War and Peace has done irreparable damage pp Boston Little Brown Company 2495THE example of Tolstoy's War and Peace has done irreparable damage Russian literature in this century Throughout the 1920's 30's 40's and into the 50's Soviet writers labored mightily and mostly unsuccessfully Mikhail Sholokhov and The uiet Don being a partial exception to emulate the master Even Boris Pasternak who should have nown better was seduced into turning out his clumsy Tolstoyan pastiche Doctor Zhivago and for the last two decades the magisterial Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who seems to be suffering from a terminal dose of Tolstoyitis has been toiling over his multivolume epic on war and revolution The Red WheelAnatoly Rybakov is not in the same league as these writers and at first glance his Arbat trilogy of which Children of the Arbat was the first installment and Fear is the second seems not to fit the mold His subject is Soviet society in the mid 30's when the Soviet Union was officially at peace Yet a closer look reveals that his focus is the war that Stalin waged against the Soviet people
his series purges between 1934 and 1937 which he contrasts with the peaceful lives of the main characters between episodes in that war Mr Rybakov's literary strategy is also Tolstoyan in the debased form to which decades of socialist realism have reduced it in that he alternates scenes of peaceful private life with scenes of warlike political action that involve real historical characters engaged in real historical events and weaves them together through the device of having his fictional characters interact with the historical onesAlthough it is intended to stand alone Fear can easily be understood if one has some nowledge of Children of the Arbat which appeared in English four years ago fortunately the publishers provide a summary for new readers In that novel Mr Rybakov described the trials and tribulations of a group of pri. Of art through state oppression How these stories are weaved throughwith his series
with the peaking paranoia of Stalin is a feat and Rybakov wrote with such vividness that its hard not to seethe peaking paranoia of Stalin is a feat and Rybakov wrote with such vividness that its hard not to see trilogy come to lifeThe last dust and ashes will carry this story to its inevitable end As the continuation of Children of the Arbat Fear dives right into the heart of the Great Terror in the Soviet Union I didn t however think that it was as good or even had the same sense of urgency as Children of the Arbat I was annoyed at the as good or even had the same sense of urgency as Children of the Arbat I was annoyed at the on Stalin as the second main character next to Sasha and I felt that the stories and fates of characters that we spent a Vileged Moscow youngsters who grew up during the late 20's and early 30's when Stalin was first fashioning his police state The novel's hero was an idealistic young student called Sasha Pankratov who was exiled to Siberia for three years for publishing a feeble political joke in the student newspaper Another important character was Pankratov's former friend Yuri Sharok a scheming and upwardly mobile student of working class originSharok joined the party establishment by enlisting in the secret police the NKVD and making a promising career for himself Along the way he succeeded in seducing and almost illing as the result of an illegal abortion a female friend of Sasha's the virtuous Lena Budyagina daughter of a prominent Soviet diplomat and in entrapping yet another friend Vika Marasevich the frivolous daughter of a famous professor who became a reluctant informer for himThe historical sections of the novel were devoted mainly to the character and activities of Stalin and to his manipulations of the Communist Party hierarchy climaxing in the murder of Sergei Kirov in December 1934 Kirov was then the popular boss of the Leningrad Party Committee and was seen by Stalin as his chief rivalFear takes up the story where Children of the Arbat left off and covers the years 1935 37 In this volume Sasha Pankratov completes his period of exile and returns to the small town of Kalinin just north of Moscow as a former political exile he is banned from living in Moscow itself Pankratov is in love with Varya Ivanova the sister of another former classmate Nina who is living in Moscow Varya loves him too but their bashfulness combined with his unexpected discovery that Varya was married before and to a wastrel at that conspires to eep them apartMeanwhile the villain of the piece Yuri Sharok moves center stage as a rising star in the NKVD As Stalin's great purge gathers momentum Sharok becomes an interrogator and is drawn into the bloody work of extracting confessions by torture He hates his job but takes comfort in the thought that he is exacting revenge on the class that had formerly humiliated him and he exults in his status as a leading member of the all powerful security serviceSharok's rise is paralleled by that of another young careerist Vadim Marasevich Vika's brother and a corrupt and self serving literary critic Vadim like Vika in volume one is trapped into becoming an informer by one of Sharok's colleagues and he suffers pangs of conscience for it but Vika seemingly escapes by calculatingly marrying a French newspaper correspondent who takes her back to Paris with him However as Fear draws to a close we see Sharok enlisted into the foreign department of the secret police and closing in on Vika again as part of an assignment to work with emigre spies while Vadim is drawn ever closer into the NKVD's web as and demands are made on himIt is the war chapters of Fear however that are likely to attract attention from the average reader if only because they deal with the ever fascinating and sensational series of purges and show trials Stalin organized and orchestrated from 1934 to 1937 and beyond Mr Rybakov's interest is not so much in the trials themselves as in the methods of interrogation and torture used by the NKVD to prepare the way for them and in the psychology of both the leaders who were victimized including Grigory Zinoviev Lev Kamenev and Nikolai Bukharin and of their persecutors the secret police chiefs Genrikh Yagoda and Nikolai Yezhov the prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky and party stalwarts like V M Molotov and Lazar Kaganovich At the center of the entire conspiracy of course stands the enigmatic figure of Stalin whom Mr Rybakov treats as one of his main characters and whom he portrays in considerable detailMr Rybakov's goal is evidently to uncover the roots of the Soviet totalitarian state and to analyze the psychological and political underpinnings of the terror it imposed on its citizens To this end he treats his historical characters just like fictional ones entering into their thoughts and presenting conversations between them as if they had actually taken place In this way he attempts to get at the motives of the principal actors and offer an explanation for the otherwise inexplicable the grotesue accusations of treason by party leaders the abject confessions of the accused to every imaginable crime the implacable thirst for retribution by Stalin and his lieutenantsTO some degree Mr Rybakov is successful especially in his understandin.