Review of stories

To the general reader, Varlam Shalamov’s prose became known only in the eighties, when the writer was no more. It tragic pages of his biography and the history of our country. Shalamov, past hell camps, are familiar with the situations in which he puts his heroes. You are amazed at the author’s persistence, his desire to remain a man in any situation.

Shalamov tries to give his positive characters the features that he most appreciates in people. For example, in the story “Apostle Paul” we see a sensitive person who spares the feelings of his father and does not show him a letter in which the daughter refuses him. The camp could not kill a man in the narrator. And the investigator from the miniature “Pocherk” pays a simple “zek” gratitude in response to help: he burns the order for the execution of Krist.

All the characters of Shalamov are different people: military and civilian, engineers and workers. They got used to the

camp life, absorbed its laws. Sometimes, looking at them, we do not know who they are: are they intelligent beings or animals in which only one instinct lives-to survive at all costs. Comic seems to us a scene from the story “Duck”, when a person tries to catch a bird, and she turns out to be smarter than him. But we gradually understand the tragedy of this situation, when the “hunt” did not lead to anything, except to the frostbitten fingers forever and the lost hopes of being able to be crossed out of the “sinister list”. But people still have ideas about mercy, compassion, conscience. Simply, all these feelings are hidden under the armor of the camp experience, which allows to survive. Therefore it is considered disgraceful to deceive somebody or eat food in front of hungry companions, as does the hero of the story “Condensed Milk”. But most of all in the prisoners – the thirst for freedom. Let for a moment, but they wanted to enjoy it, feel it, and then die not terribly, but in no case is a prisoner – there is death. Therefore, the protagonist of the story “The
Last Fight of Major Pugachev” prefers to kill himself, but do not give up.

The names of the works of Shalamov are short and concise. But in two or three words the author tries to express the whole essence of the moment, its ideological load. Like the names, the stories themselves are short. They are more like miniatures. The writer tries to depict not the dynamics of events, but the reflections of man, his suffering. Therefore, most often Shalamov refers to the portrait of the hero. The author gives a description of only one feature in the person, which helps us to fully imagine the hero. This can be handwriting, diligence or piety.

I really like the melodic sound of Varlam Shalamov’s works. The eye does not hurt the roughness of the text. The narrative is smooth and harmonious, although the jargon of the camp dialect is included in the fabric of the work. The language of different heroes is individual. It corresponds to their education and upbringing. This helps us to more fully imagine the characters in the works. Sometimes you wonder how, in a few words, you can describe the hero so successfully, his problem.

I’m very sorry that Shalamov’s stories were not published in due time. They would be able to make a real revolution in the country. But that’s why they were not published, the author was branded with shame, and the USSR was represented in the best light.

However, the “Kolyma stories” have not lost their relevance even now. I consider my generation an unsuccessful experiment. The ideals on which we grew up were destroyed and trampled down in our childhood. We are a generation that recognizes only the power of money, ready to go for them for everything. We have nothing sacred, but because we laugh at camp habits, we despise the habits of “zeks.” We have enough to say: “Nightmare!”, And in five minutes I already forget about the tragedy, in this I see our great guilt in front of that army of political prisoners that I have not been released. I am ashamed for laughing at their torment, because not everyone can pass the roads of the camps, so I think that V. Shalamov’s works should occupy an important place in the program of teaching modern youth for the upbringing of morality, spirituality and humanity.

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Review of stories