ON TRIAL by Max- Ed. Hayward


Email this review


The February trials of Andrei Donatyevich Sinyavksy and Yuli Markovich Daniel have received wide press attention here. Known in the United States and Britain as Abram Tertz (The Trial Begins, The Makepeace Experiment (p. 481, 1965), ""On Socialist Realism"") and Nikolai Arzhak (This is Moscow Speaking, ""Hands,"" Atonement"" and ""The Man from Minap""), these writers were arrested, indicted, tried and sentenced, essentially for providing ""anti-Soviet slanderous works"" that are being ""passed off by hostile propaganda as truthful accounts about the Soviet Union."" Now the trial testimony has been brought to the West by an unknown person, presumably one of the picked spectators. It forms a major portion of this book. Never before had there been a trial in which the authors' literary work was the principal evidence against them, never had there been (aside from six Uzbekian authors) so unanimous a negative reaction within Russia to the sentences pronounced against the defendants. (Both men were sent to Potma in the Mordvinian autonomous region, ""where there is known to be a large forced labor camp,"" Sinyavsky for seven, Daniel for five years.) Max Hayward points out in his introduction to the trial record that there is no specific ban under the Soviet Criminal Code on the use of pseudonyms, publishing abroad, or writing one thing under one name and something else under another; ""sacrilege, however, can at a pinch be accommodated under Article 70 of the Criminal Code."" Therefore, it was crucial that proof of intent be found in the writings themselves. A reading of the examinations verifies Daniel's assertion in his impassioned and moving final plea that the trial was characterized by ""a deafness to our explanations."" This will not be the case here, where they will gain the hearing and concern of the liberal and intellectual community, always especially alert to legal encroachments on artistic expression. The case may well become a cause.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1966
Publisher: Harper & Row