All posts in category Gulag

Judging books by their covers

As part of some work on Vasily Grossman (about which more anon), I’ve been catching up with my reading on Gulag history. Stephen Cohen’s The Victims Return finally arrived at the library, so I went to get it out. The first thing that struck me was how similar its cover was to another recent book on Gulag […]

Doroshevich on Sakhalin

I had other plans yesterday, but was feeling far too tired and depressed to concentrate on the writing I was supposed to be doing. So, to take my mind off present-day violent criminality at home, I started thinking about violent criminality more than a hundred years ago on the other side of the world… I recently […]

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

My article, ‘Recalling the Dead: Repetition, Identity, and the Witness in Varlam Shalamov’s Kolymskie rasskazy,’ has been published in the latest issue of Slavic Review (vol. 70. 2, 2011, pp. 353-72). In this article, I examine different types of repetition in Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales, from the repeated narration of the same incident in different tales, to […]

Translating Shalamov

My translation of Shalamov’s story Resurrection of the Larch has been published in the literary journal Cardinal Points. I’ve also written a short piece on Shalamov for the journal. I don’t intend to repeat what I said there, but I would like to make a couple of additional observations. Although this is the first translation […]

Shalamov’s connections illustrated

And so, back to Shalamov. What I’m going to do is just take one story and show how the connections move out through the collections from there. My intention is more to show just what the connections are than to interpret them. You can start this process at pretty much any point, but I thought […]

Blogging from BASEES (2)

Yesterday’s highlight was indeed the panel on visualizations of imprisonment, in which Judith Pallot and Sonia Gavrilova presented the Mapping the Gulag project, and Josephine von Zitzewitz talked about the new version of Memorial’s Virtual Gulag Museum. I’ve already written about the museum, and the new version (due to go live in the middle of […]

Shalamov: connections

One of the most intriguing aspects of Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales is connections between the stories. These take a large variety of forms. Within the six collections, there are clusters of stories that are linked in different ways: by chronology (‘The Lawyers’ Plot’ and ‘Typhoid Quarantine’; ‘June’ and ‘May; ‘Chasing Engine Steam’ and ‘The Train’), location (such […]

I’ve been meaning for a while to write something about this site, to which I’m a pretty frequent visitor. was launched in December 2008 and has grown amazingly quickly over the last year and a bit. It’s become one of the best resources on an individual writer that I’ve come across. It contains electronic […]

Shalamov’s titles

One tends to spend a lot of time focusing on the first and final sentences of Shalamov’s stories, because the author did attribute particular importance to them. But recently, I’ve also been thinking about his titles. Consisting largely of one or two words, most of them are strikingly commonplace. Some, such as ‘The Parcel’, ‘Rain’, […]

The problem with Solzhenitsyn

Not entirely in the festive spirit, I’ve been reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Invisible Allies (trans. Alexis Klimoff and Michael Nicholson; London: Harvill, 1997) with my usual set of mixed feelings. He’s not the greatest writer the world has ever seen, but he is very readable. Last time I read The Gulag Archipelago in full, I couldn’t […]