BLOOD ON THE SNOW by John Elliot


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Through his resourceful portrait of that ""flawed martyr,"" Father Gapon (who led the Bloody Sunday march in 1905 St. Petersburg), and his discreet management of both prime movers and expendables (real and fictional), this English author has illuminated the interaction between history and those personalities who rose to meet its peculiar demands. The priest Gapon--peasant-born, ambitious, vain, an idealist bound to serve God by serving the poor but hiding a messianic bent--is given charge of the St. Petersburg Workmen's Association, once a police-sponsored containment for rising worker ferment, now a viable structure for organized rebellion. On Bloody Sunday: the march, the exhilaration, the slaughter--Gapon has his moment in history. But the power of circumstance, which can lead one Moses to the Promised Land, can turn another back. Gapon, still dazzled by adulation, gradually succumbs to a peasant's fantasy of material luxury, and, drifting within a dream of himself in the seats of power, loses his followers (now several squares advanced in deadly political games), turns informer, and is executed. Around Gapon's progress, the great perform their parts: Lenin, Trotsky, Kerensky, Witte, the Tsar, Gorki--all muted, convincing portraits. And the various factions of police, the military, politicians, and spies struggle for a patch of ground in the darkening crises. But it is Gapon's fictional followers--aristocrat Sophia and her lover Boris, an army officer--who undergo the sea-changes, finally fading into the inevitable impotence of the ""gentle progressives."" Ignore the jujube title: forged out of distilled but deepened history, this is a somber but expressive chronicle of changing times--its victims, its instruments, and those who lie in wait.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's