Camp topics in Russian literature

One of the innovative and interesting topics in the literature of the 60s was the topic of camps and Stalinist repressions.

One of the first works written on this topic were “Kolyma Stories” by V. Shalamov. V. Shalamov is a writer of uneasy creative destiny and his work is far from English fairy tales. He himself went through the prison camps. His creative path began as a poet, and in the late 50’s and 60’s he turned to prose. In his stories, with a sufficient degree of frankness, the camp life, with which the writer was familiar firsthand, was transferred. In his stories he was able to give bright sketches of those years, to show the images of not only the prisoners, but also their guards, the camp chiefs, where he had to sit. These stories recreate terrible camp situations – hunger, dystrophy, humiliation of people with brutal criminals. In the “Kolyma stories” are investigated collisions, in which the prisoner “swims” to

prostration, to the threshold of non-existence.

But the main thing in his stories is not only the transfer of the atmosphere of horror and fear, but also the image of people who at that time managed to retain the best human qualities, the willingness to come to the rescue, the feeling that you are not only a screw in a huge machine of suppression, but above all a man in whose soul lives a hope.

The representative of the memoirs of “camp prose” was A. Zhigulin. Zhigulin’s story “Black Stones” is a complicated and ambiguous work. This is a documentary and artistic narrative about the activities of the Communist Party (Communist Youth Party), which included thirty boys, in a romantic fit united for a conscious struggle against the deification of Stalin.

It is built as the author’s memories of his youth. Therefore, unlike the works of other authors, there is a lot of so-called “romanticism in it”. But at the same time Zhigulin was able to accurately convey the feeling of that era. With documentary reliability, the writer writes about how the organization was

born, how the investigation was conducted. The writer made a very vivid illustration of the interrogation: “The investigation was conducted in vain, and the recordings were made in the records of the interrogations.” It was supposed to write down word for word – as the defendant answers, but the investigators invariably gave our answers a completely different color, for example, if I said: “The Communist Party youth, “the investigator wrote down:” The anti-Soviet organization of the CPM. “If I said” assembly, “the investigator wrote a” gathering. ” Zhigulin, as it were, warns that the main task of the regime was to “penetrate into the thought”, not even born yet, to penetrate and strangle it to the cradle. Hence the early brutality of the self-adjusting system. For playing in the organization, a semi-children’s game, but deadly for both sides (as both sides knew) – ten years of prison-camp nightmare. So the totalitarian system functions.

Another bright work on this topic was the novel “Faithful Ruslan” G. Vladimova. This work is written in the footsteps and on behalf of a dog, specially trained, trained to drive under the convoy of prisoners, “to make a selection” from the same crowd and overtake hundreds of miles of risked to escape the crazy. A dog is like a dog. The kind, intelligent, loving person is more than the man himself loves his relatives and himself, a creature destined by the dictates of fate, the conditions of birth and upbringing that fell to his share of the camp civilization to bear the duties of the guard, and if necessary, the executioner.

In the story, Ruslan has one industrial concern, for which he lives: this is to ensure order, elementary order, and the prisoners would maintain the established order. But at the same time, the author emphasizes that he is too kind by nature (bold, but not aggressive), smart, judicious, self-centered, in the best sense of the word, he is ready for everything for the master, even if he die.

But the main content of the story of Vladimirov is precisely to show: in which case, and this case presented itself and coincides with our era, all the best opportunities and abilities not only of a dog, but of a person. The most holy intentions are shifted from ignorance, from good to evil, from the truth to deception, from devotion to man to the ability to wrap a person, take by the hand, by the foot, take by the throat, risking, if necessary, with his own head, and transforming a stupid pile named “people”, “people” in the harmonic stage of the prisoners – in the system.

The undoubted classics of “camp prose” are A. Solzhenitsyn. His works on this subject appeared at the end of the thaw, the first of which was the story “One Day of Ivan Denisovich.” Originally, the story was even called in the camp language: “Щ-854. (One day of a prisoner).” In a small “time-space” of the story many human fates are combined. This is primarily a co-author, Ivan Denisovich and film director Caesar Markovic. Time (one day) seems to flow into the camp space, in it the writer has focused all the problems of his time, the whole essence of the camp system. He also dedicated his theme to the GULAG theme “In the First Circle”, “Cancer Corps” and a large documentary and artistic study “The Gulag Archipelago”, in which he proposed his concept and periodization of the terror that unfolded in the country after the revolution. This book is based not only on the personal impressions of the author, but also on numerous documents and letters-memories of the prisoners themselves.

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Camp topics in Russian literature