THE NEW WRITING IN RUSSIA by Thomas P.- Trans. Whitney


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Other than the fact of publication here, there's nothing new in this collection of Soviet writing. About a dozen stories, one screenplay, from five younger representatives of the post-Stalinist era. They owe either to Chekhov and Gorki or to the flashier specimens of modernist Western literature. Three are barely endurable. Rozov -- the scenarist of The Cranes Are Flying -- contributes a cinematic study of a rebellious youth, a fantastic concoction of James Dean and the Jimmy Porter of Look Back in Anger. It was proscribed by the Party, and has ""daring"" dialogue, e.g. when the mother quaintly observes ""There is only one road to truth and there are as many as you please to error,"" Volodya answers, ""Maybe that's also not a truth, Mother."" (Uproar in the Kremlin!) Askenov, whose sloppy novels are available in England, also concentrates on stilyagi types, but he's more muscular, more Hemingwayesque. Tendryakov -- the senior of the group and the best established -- unfortunately has a flabby, floundering tale with an industrial setting. It hymns values: ""He looked at Elochka with new eyes. She was going to become a human being.""...... Happily, there are two real talents. Nagabin's A Man and a Road is a very touching, troubling account of an alienated ex-service man's romantic quest, and Kazakov (a selection of his short stories was published here a few months ago) writes a beautifully balanced prose with a feeling for nature and with -- as a Soviet critic put it -- ""a look in the heart."" The translator's earnest essays concerning these five and the literary situation from the Revolution to the present stresses the swing from ""socialist realism"" to apolitical art. But an adjective doesn't make art.

Publisher: Univ. of Michigan Press