It is becoming increasingly clear, now that translations are more and more available, that the years just prior to and for a short while after the Russian Revolution produced startling literary works comparable to the modernist explosion in America and France. Like Pasternak, Essenin, Zamvatin, and Zoschenko, the underlying theme behind the short novels and tales of Borls Pilnyak is the struggle of an old and dying style to come to terms with the new wave of history as represented by the Communists, whom Pilnyak once called ""mechanical rationalists."" Pilnyak descends from the so-called ""formalist"" school of Leskov and Bely, but his ornamental prose is drenched with an almost Tolstoyan love of nature and the ancestral homeland and the elemental passions and deep sorrows of the peasants. Mother Earth or Mahogany or Ryazan Apples are really prose poems centering around the medieval ways of provincial towns as they grudgingly become aware of the new Bolshevik forces in their midst. The drama here is the epic one of the backward masses who have knowledge neither of industry nor ideology, who understand only the eternal rhythms of death and renewal, of the Volga and the forests and the farmlands, who see their close communal life or their primitive individuality suddenly disrupted by the claims of Civil War or the exhortations of iron willed commissars. Pilnyak is a master of the pungent phrase; his symbolic sagas are memorable evocations of history and humanity.