THE SAMIZDAT REGISTER by Roy A.--Ed. Medvedev
Kirkus Star

THE SAMIZDAT REGISTER

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The Kremlin keepers and interested citizens of the free world will discover in this latest collection of underground Soviet writings--historical, political, philosophical, and religious--an active and diversified community of intellectual dissent. The volume approximates more closely than others (e.g., the Meerson-Aksenov collection, p. 397) the actual samizdat medium, in terms of content, since it includes almost the entire first three issues of the Twentieth Century journal, which Roy Medvedev edits illegally in Moscow. With one exception, the authors concern themselves either with the early flow of Soviet history--in which they search for clues to eventual Stalinist degeneration--or with a critique of contemporary traditionalist Russian opposition, publicized in the West by Solzhenitsyn. Most of the writers are Marxists, and they labor to unmask Stalinism from the inside. Roy Medvedev's belief in ""the power of Marxism,"" and in the ""power of history"" in his country, despite the decades of brutal falsification of both at the hands of party leaders, sets an almost hopeful tone to the book, whose very existence is not a small victory for unfettered intellectual discussion. At the other end of the spectrum, Andreev's radical-Christian-Tolstoyan critique of Solzhenitsyn reveals the sophistication of current religious thought in a land so long officially atheist. Solzhenitsyn is criticized in three different papers for not being truly Christian, for proposing to merely continue the authoritarian tradition of both tsars and commissars, and for invoking an abstract internal salvation instead of facing up to the real needs of Russia. The Register also contains an essay on vodka as ""Commodity Number One,"" the author insinuating that Soviet authorities profit from this calamitous vice. Painfully aware of the tragic continuities of Russian history, which it hopes our age will presently transcend, The Samizdat Register sets itself apart both from the official ""Marxist,"" and from Solzhenitsyn ""new-Old-Believer"" orthodoxy. A manifestly important publication.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1977
ISBN: 0393335798
Publisher: Norton