Russian Studies in Literature
Fall 2007
Revekka Frumkina
translated by Liv Bliss

Only naive viewers cry their eyes out over a fabrication, but you can count me as one. The first time I saw [Andrei] Tarkovsky's Mirror [Zerkalo], I cried so hard that I might as well have been watching the whole film through a steamed-up window. After the curtain came down on [Eugène] Ionesco's Chairs [Les Chaises], starring Sergei Yursky (the show was staged in London before audience of about fifty, which strengthened the impression that Yursky was speaking to each of us individually), I was a blubbery mess when I went to congratulate the Master. In school and college I was just in time to catch the legendary Russian theater of Kachalov, Gribov, Androvskaya, Livanov, Khmelev... in general, the Moscow Arts Theater "as it had been," as well as the genuine Vakhtangovites – Mansurova, Simonov, and Astangov. Still, my love was always for the cinema. The first thing I ever wrote other than in the time-honored genre of the school essay was a review for our ninth-grade wall newspaper on Road to the Scaffold [Doroga na eshafot, called The Heart of a Queen in the United States – Trans.], a movie that had come to us as "spoils of war." Then I forgot about it for many years, until I read Brodsky's famous sonnets to Mary Queen of Scots:

The war to end all wars produced ground zero.
The frying pan missed fat that missed pork chops.
Mary, I was a boy then, and saw Zarah
Leander approach the scaffold, clippety-clop...
We all came to the surface from the pictures.

For my generation, The Walls of Malapaga [Le mure di Malapaga, a 1949 Franco-Italian joint production – Trans.] and 1952's Rome, Eleven o'Clock [Roma, 11 ore] were not movies: they were life events. Then there was the Polish cinema, which not only was more than cinema but had a greater impact on our minds and hearts than the literature accessible to most of us in the late 1950s and the very early 1960s.

I bought my first television set – a portable, black-and-white Iunost – in 1976, to watch figure skating or, more accurately, the peerless British pair of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. In those days there were no "real" films (Polish, French, Italian, Hungarian) on television, so I turned my Iunost on only now and then. Even in 1979, I had only a vague notion of who [the fictional double-agent] Stirlitz was and I had never heard of [the pop singer] Alla Pugacheva, a fact that a young person preparing to do graduate studies under my supervision found impossible to believe. I began watching movies on television when the movie theater nearest to my home closed its doors. Then I finally had the honor of seeing Seventeen Moments of Spring [Semnadtzat mgnovenii vesny, a miniseries featuring Stirlitz – Trans.]. It was like reading some old children's story. In 1994 or so, we at last got a portable color JVC, on which I watched two American series, L.A. Law and ER. The former used some pretty good actors, and besides, U.S. legal procedure was still a novelty to us in those days. ER, on the contrary, was interesting for how recognizable many of its purely medical aspects were. It was a setting whose Moscow version I knew well. ER taught me, in passing, how the serial or series is structured as a genre. That was when I got bored. I'm naive, as viewers go, but not omnivorous.

Then my friends wrote to me from the United States that they were borrowing cassettes from their university's video library and could watch whatever they wanted. I envied them: even if I bought a VCR, what was there to watch? But three years ago, my nephew got his hands on the latest "must-have" and was happy to pass on to me his battered Panasonic. The timing was especially good, because "normal" films were starting to be televised at mostly abnormal hours, even though the repertoire of films being offered on various media platforms had broadened sharply. So I borrow films that interest me from friends (cinephiles and cinebuffs) or record them from the TV.

As you can see, my membership of the community of television viewers is conditional at best. Actually, my television watching began with perestroika and ended with it, too. I am a movie viewer, and an addicted and grateful (albeit selective) one at that. Of course, I know that movies have to be seen in a theater with other people and all that. But I do get caught up in them, to the point where it's just me and the screen, and the boiling teakettle and the unsent letters are forgotten.

The Naive Viewer and the Serial

If anyone were to ask me, "Do you like serials?", I would answer in the spirit of that old joke about liking tomatoes: The good ones, yes. The others, not so much.

I liked Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, and the miniseries based on it was not bad either. Some of its set pieces, in my view, had even more punch and logic on screen than they did in the book. I am even more taken with BBC serializations of nineteenth-century British classics, which, I hear, are appreciated in Britain too. The serial Eastenders – about daily life as they live it – is also allegedly popular in its home country, but after fifteen minutes I was bored and switched over to a BBC-4 show (episode?) about ants. It seems to me that adults who watch "soapy" serials are like children listening to a bedtime story: That's one chapter (story), and now you have to go to sleep and you'll hear the rest tomorrow.

Of course, experts will make certain demands of the structure of a "solid," professional serial. But I have demands, too: a serial episode is a shorter-than-normal film with its own plot that relates to the storyline of the whole in such a way as to make you want to know what happens next. In other words, an individual episode should not begin with just any old plot point and end because that is all that could be squeezed into forty-five minutes. "Stirlitz," incidentally, was made by following those "home-brewed" rules.

The good ones, by and large, yes. The others, not so much.

The Naive Viewer and Television Adaptations

Since I have already admitted that I enjoy watching adaptations of British classics, it is clear that I am not against adaptations as such. Yet it must be acknowledged that it is much easier to give an adaptation (whether serialized or in ordinary film format) a fair shake if one's memories of the original text are a little blurry. If you remember every last word of the original, then I implore you not to subject yourself to the inevitable torment – even if the director in question is as sophisticated as Schlöndorff and the film is as fine as Swann in Love, starring Jeremy Irons and with music by Hans Werner Henze. It is one thing to know that it makes no sense to insist on an exact reproduction of the text, but something else altogether to accept that what Swann is saying to Odette is not what you were expecting with tremulous anticipation.

Yet the naive viewer still expects, and can only do so tremulously. Fortunately, erudition and naïveté rarely come as a matched pair – although these days, no erudition is required to remember verbatim whole paragraphs from The Master and Margarita, since many of today's readers had it fixed in their "mind's ear" even before the miniseries aired. And from that point of view, Vladimir Bortko's adaptation of [Fyodor] Dostoyevsky's The Idiot seems to me a less risky challenge.

Adaptation of a Novel or Adaptation of Life?

I admit that the screen adaptation of [Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle originally struck me as a venture that was not just risky but suicidal. Since I had never seen the novel in published form and did not have a samizdat copy of my own, I had not read it since the late 1960s. But I do remember the novel's main characters – Nerzhin, Rubin, and Sologdin – and I recall the crux of the novel being debates on life and death, on human worth. And I remember the poignant description of Nerzhin's visit from his wife.

It is objectively difficult to present on screen an institution whose staff is engaged in scientific research. The screen demands action, no matter whether it takes place in a prison laboratory [sharashka] or an ordinary scientific research institute. Intellectual debates are not suitable for the screen either, unless the characters are debating in the paradoxical, designedly unsuitable setting of a bewitched "Zone" as in Tarkovsky's Stalker or a real zone partly occupied by a sharashka, where God is discussed while splitting firewood, love is debated while lying on a plank bed, philosophy is deliberated in the latrine, and so on.

Let us allow that for me this is trite. I suggest, though, that the film was not addressed to me and my cohort at all – not to people, that is, who themselves could have ended their days in a prisoner transport or on a plank bed – but to the "young tribe" [from a line in Pushkin's "Again I Visited" ("Vnov' ia posetil") – Trans.] that has perhaps not read the novel. To my surprise, nonreaders were not far to seek: I found them among people I knew – humanities scholars aged between twenty and thirty-five. Günther Grass, Borges, Lotman, and many others they had read, but not The First Circle. So it transpired that I was watching the film per the novel, as it were, whereas they were watching a movie about life. Needless to say, it took me some effort not to make comparisons, either with the novel or with my own experience of life. But the nonreaders had nothing to compare it with. As it turned out, however, almost every one of my acquaintances, whether they had or had not read the book, watched the premiere. Which means they had good reasons do to so. I will now tell you mine.

Yevgeny Mironov as Gleb Nerzhin

I met Zhenya Mironov in 1986, in a crammed auditorium at the Central House of Workers in the Arts, where they were showing Abduladze's Repentance [Pokayanie; in Georgian, Monanieba – Trans.]. The story of that screening is rife with symbolism.

We found ourselves seated together by accident. I had a pass for two, but my intended companion was sick, so a young man I didn't know, almost a boy, came in with me. I had been taken aback by the swirling frenzy of people piling inside, like the subway at rush hour, not to mention that the coat-check attendant was not too interested in taking our things, which forced me to emit a haughty, "The young man is with me" – and that did the trick. I thought that whatever was in store for us, it would not be a movie. The first thing that occurred to me was that something had happened in the city – if not a war, then at least another Chernobyl. Somewhere in the back reaches of my mind glimmered the idea that I needed at least to get to know the boy whose elbow I was still holding. He turned out to be a second-year student at the Moscow Arts Theater Studio.

The auditorium was packed. I complained aloud that I didn't even have a newspaper so I could sit on the floor. The boy said that he could see, way over there, Avangard Leontiev (who?) [Moscow Arts Theater actor and People's Artist of the Russian Federation – Trans.] and would try to enlist his help in getting seats. He came back with the news that we did have a chair, which was located to the right of the stage, roughly where the fifth row of the orchestra seats would be, and had clearly been hauled in from someone's living room. But before I could sit down, an elderly usherette, in the form of two hands, grabbed my jacket lapels, evidently intending to drag me away from the chair by main force. I have to say that I froze less because of the nerve of the woman than from fear that at any minute the old girl would destroy an ancient charm that I wore in memory of my father. At that point, the boy yelled, "Don't you dare touch my mom!" The effect was stunning; the old girl disappeared into thin air. And since that time I have had many reasons to remember how important a convincing performance is.

Relieved, I sat down, scooting over so we could share the chair. What happened next had nothing to do with the movie. Zhenya, sitting next to me, was watching the movie, but I spent the whole time whispering into his ear, trying to decode for him the meanings and metaphors that he did not understand. What were those numbered logs floating into the port? And those inscriptions – what was that all about?* The numerous tokens and details – unambiguous to people of my age – were signs of a secret collusion between Abuladze and the generation of surviving witnesses. But they did not point Zhenya toward any kind of reality.

Some two years later, Zhenya came to my home with a girl. He and that fellow student, whose name escapes me now, were about to leave for Germany to perform an excerpt from a famous Brecht play in which two young parents are paralyzed with fear that their young son is going to betray them [probably Der Spitzel (The Spy) – Trans.]. Zhenya questioned me on the realism of thinking that way: had anything of the kind ever happened to me? He also wanted to select some music to accompany the scene. I suggested looking for something contrastive, and we settled on the conciliatory andante from Beethoven's Twelfth Sonata. For his next studio examination, Zhenya played the Baron in The Lower Depths [Na dne]. I do not like that play, but during the performance something closed up in me so tight that when Zhenya and I emerged onto Kamergersky Lane [where the Moscow Arts Theater is located – Trans.], I said, "We'll be playing Myshkin one day."

Mironov ended up playing both Myshkin and Nerzhin.

In my view, Myshkin was the far easier role: the text is "meaty" and although the drama in Bortko's adaptation for television tends, I would say, toward the melodramatic, it provides the actor with plenty of material. Mironov would have a real opportunity to be Nerzhin in the two episodes that were broadcast one after the other on the day of the miniseries' television premiere.

I was delighted and decided that we were all set now. I was wrong. Even in the scene of his wife's visit, Nerzhin is given the words but not the material appropriate to the standard of acting of which Mironov is capable. Anyone who has not read the novel or has forgotten it cannot possibly appreciate the moment when Nadya unbuttons her coat to signal that Nerzhin is her husband.

A poignant sense of being told the absolute truth came to me only once, in the first of two scenes featuring Andrei Smirnov. Everyone who saw this miniseries, even those who rejected it wholesale, took note of that scene, in which the elderly prisoner Bobynin, called in to report to the big boss [Viktor Abakumov, minister of state security – Trans.], imperturbably tells him the naked truth about the possibility of finishing the job. More accurately, he notes the impossibility of doing the technically impossible and at the same time lets him know that you can deprive a person of every earthly possession, leaving him with only a handkerchief, but you can never deprive him of himself – of his freedom, that is, to be who he is. Still, there is no way of paraphrasing that scene, because what we had there was truly art.

Can You Talk About That?

I think you can. After all, Wajda made Ashes and Diamonds [Popiół i diament], A Generation [Pokolenie], and Kanal. But then again – no, you can't. To prove it, Roman Polanski's The Pianist is about the same thing but is couched in the idiom of the Hollywood mainstream. People raised on the films of Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Kawalerowicz are irritated by that garishly painted veneer. Of course, it takes more than black-and-white film stock to show the truth; color per se is not an artistic challenge but a means to an end. Yet the screen adaptation of Solzhenitsyn's novel has made it quite evident that dense color can simply kill a premise. I am prepared to forgive the writers and directors their numerous inaccuracies in portraying the life of the time. In 1949, hardly anyone but [the Moscow Arts Theater's] Vasily Ivanovich Kachalov would have been wearing a wedding ring, Volodin's wristwatch could only be Soviet-made, and no one had a gold watch that had not been presented for long service or extraordinary personal efforts – although, mind you, I cannot vouch for the Foreign Ministry. Perhaps they had their own rules there. But, at the end of the day, that is not the point.

The point is the actual surface texture of the cinematic idiom. Long ago, in Vassa, Gleb Panfilov filmed with loving naturalism the beautiful faience jug and bowl in which his hero performs his ablutions before killing himself. But that wealthy suicide is a seducer of underage girls. When essentially the same texture is applied to Volodin, already a dead man, standing naked in the Lubianka prison shower and to the caviar brought to Sologdin (with black and red served together, all but on the same plate!), while the long shot of the snowbound sharashka against the background of an indigo night sky is just Christmas-card pretty, it makes you think how right Aleksei Gherman, Sr., was in his deliberate rejection of color in Khrustalev, My Car! [Khrustalev, mashinu!] (although that film's aesthetics are not that appealing to me).

Nataliya Ivanova appraised this kind of portrayal of the past as a restoration of the Stalinist "grand style." Unlike her, I discerned not even the remotest echoes of nostalgia in Panfilov's miniseries, but I did find that it offered quite a lot of room for doubt. Because once a viewer has opted to watch that particular miniseries, there is an expectation of being shown how life really was.

Like Nataliya Borisovna, I noticed that Dotty [Dotnara Volodina – Trans.] did not take off her astonishingly wine-colored silk dress to help her husband bathe. Panfilov is not the kind of director for whom this is a "trifle" – he even did his own editing, or at least so the credits tell us. Consequently, the viewer is supposed to assume that Dotty has wardrobes stuffed with dresses like that, meaning that it, along with other "props" seen in the Volodins' apartment and at the evening party at the prosecutor's home, is a token of the "ritzy" life lived by a high-ranking civil servant in Stalin's time. However, not only in 1949 but even later (at least until Stalin's death), the lifestyle of individuals far more important than a Foreign Ministry counselor was strictly confined within a framework that still bore the manifest imprint of the era of the party maximum wage [whereby no party worker could earn more than an ordinary worker – Trans.].

In the winter of 1952, I attended the wedding of a school friend whose father (I called him Uncle Misha) was then in the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). Except for close family, the guests comprised ten or so young people – the bride's friends from Moscow State University and college (I forget which one) friends of the groom. Altogether, there were twenty to twenty-five guests. Even so, they had to hold the celebration at their summer cottage because we would have overflowed the dining room of the family apartment. So I was again sitting opposite the breakfront with the government-issue aluminum identification plate, from which a decade previously we children had sneaked the fresh buns that we were not supposed to have until evening tea, and again ate from a plate not too different from the kind found in public canteens.

Fair is fair, though – in almost any historical film either the shoulder knots are wrong or the heroine is not wielding her fan just so. But imagine a film about 1980s Russia in which characters in Armani suits are listening to Ekho Moskvy broadcasts on their palmtops and ICQing each other. I fear that this would cause anyone older than twenty (perhaps unawares) to distrust everything else in that movie.

Even stranger, to me, were certain details of the relationships between a Cheka leader and the sharashka workers. Igor Sklyar, who played the role of the engineer Gerasimovich brilliantly, is especially good where the script has him listening, in lugubrious silence, to his wife's complaints, but the exchange in which the top leadership offers him the position of project director at another sharashka and, to boot, tells him not only what he will be producing (a miniature camera) but what it will be used for (spying on ordinary people) comes off as absolutely implausible. Anybody who, even in later years and even as a free employee, worked at a top secret research institute or design bureau, would know that lower management, much less the bosses, never explained the practical purpose not only of an end product but of any exploratory project, never mind actually offering anyone the choice of whether or not to head something up or to transfer somewhere. I am being so insistent about the fundamental importance of this because it was certainly not only the political prisoners who were slaves: almost all of us, with few exceptions, were enslaved. And if anyone had, like Gerasimovich, said in that situation, "I don't set traps for human beings," he would probably not have lived long enough to make it to the next prisoner transport. It is no accident that in the novel, Solzhenitsyn described that retort of Gerasimovich's as emerging in a "reverberating, strangled voice."

It Must Be Told, but How?

When the problem of language as an instrument equal to the task of portraying the Stalinist era is discussed, there is always a presumption that it is possible, first, to tell the truth and, second, to write sine irae et studio [without wrath and zeal – Trans.]. The problem therefore concentrates around the how – hence the intense interest in language as an instrument used to represent a catastrophic age.

There is no disputing the viewpoint that enters into the roster of "eternal questions" the contraposition of power versus the little man, of conscience versus the law, of the right of the powerful versus justice, of poet versus tsar, and so on. Seek in the Bible and ye shall find, but do not forget to add something on the banality of evil à la Hannah Arendt and on Auschwitz à la Theodor Adorno. Even so, I cannot stop thinking that as my generation – and by that I mean people aged seventy and up – takes its final leave, so also do those who "saw it with their own eyes." Or who, more precisely, saw something, even if they made little sense of it, on their own account. But one has to remember that different people, even those from one generation (and mine is no exception), have looked on (and continue to look on!) past events with eyes that may be their own but are different ("a barbarian perspective, though a true one").** In my opinion, the tragic conundrum posed by the challenge of describing our past rests in that awareness rather than in the absence of a special metalanguage. There was an eminent Soviet architect, Aleksei Nikolaevich Dushkin, who happened to be old enough to be my father and who built what are in my view Moscow's best Metro stations – Dvorets sovetov (now Kropotkinskaya), Mayakovskaya, and Novoslobodskaya – and, while we're at it, the Detsky Mir toy store on Lubyanka Square, an entirely respectable high-rise at the Red Gates, and a remarkably distinguished railroad station in Sochi. (The rest I've seen only in photos.) I even remember when Mayakovskaya Station opened; it was quite the occasion. Things like that are not built under the lash: there has to be congruence, and Dushkin was organically congruent. Dushkin's architecture is akin to Deineka's better paintings (as a matter of fact, the recessed mosaics in Mayakovskaya's ceiling were designed by Deineka), and reminds me of a song I loved when I was young: "Morning Greets Us with Coolness" ["Nas vstrechaet utro prokhladoi"]. In this case, Shostakovich, who composed that melody on a poem by Boris Kornilov for the movie Counterplan [Vstrechny], was congruent. So was Deineka, in his best paintings.

Thus, fifty years ago – when Detsky Mir was being built before my eyes – the architecture in this country was truly lovely, lucid, harmonious, and national. I mention that primarily because architecture is inevitably the most "official" of the arts. Furthermore, at approximately the same time, great, lucid, tragic movies were being made here: Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying [Letyat zhuravli], Romm's Nine Days of One Year [Devyat dnei odnogo goda], and so on. They were "official," too, because in those days nothing was unofficial.

Now I understand: it cannot be said that Kalatozov was congruent with the aesthetic of the age in the same sense as Dushkin or Deineka were. But in the mind of my generation (back then, at least) Deineka and Kalatozov seemed to be parts of a single whole. In that sense, The Cranes Are Flying was a film about us, and that sense of "we" was no fiction, not like the one that is being created today under the name of "national consolidation." We were profoundly convinced that the Metro and Detsky Mir were being built for us.

Some ten years ago, in the Museum of Private Collections, I saw an exhibition of the later works of Tatiana Mavrina – all still lifes with flowers. What inner harmony must a person muster to be able to paint that way in the twilight of a life lived in the "lost years"? Despite one thing and thanks to something else. Grigory Revzin described her art precisely as "creativity born of a sense of joy in the beauty and harmony of being." Well, yes, "The raindrops are heavy as cufflinks."*** Pasternak also said, "Do not gather me last of a hundred."**** At one and the same time, "thanks to" and "in spite of."

Here, in my opinion, lies yet another problem for the description of our unhappy recent past, which is the impossibility of the objective, of living a robust life in a lifeless time. Yet that impossible life did exist!

Sorry to be personal, as the British say, but by the winter of 1952 many of my pals from the Philology Faculty – as well as our favorite professor, Leonid Efimovich Pinsky, and the doctors who had treated me since I was a child – had disappeared, one after another, into the maw of the Lubyanka. My mind and my heart were consumed with fear for myself but – and in this perhaps only my cohort will understand me – also with fear of the upcoming winter session and most of all with fear for my first real novel. More precisely, it all happened "simultaneously," with no buts about it, because otherwise I would have gone out of my mind. And even without the but I lost eight kilos that winter. From fear.

When Uncle Misha, whom I mentioned earlier, saw me at his daughter's wedding, he invited me to dance and said with all sincerity, "How skinny you are – have you been ill?" There was no connection whatsoever in my mind between his elevated government post and what was going on all around. It was a kind of double-think, if you will. Because, right up to the end of the 1950s (!), if I ever had to go up Furkasovsky Alley to turn onto Dzerzhinsky Square, I always walked on the other side of the street [to avoid the Lubyanka – Ed.]. That double-think is still with us; if you imagine that my grandchildren remember that not only the White Sea Canal but also Moscow State University on the Lenin Hills were constructed on the bones of the prisoners who built them, you could not be further from the truth. Still, they watched the miniseries.

The Reactions, Verbatim

Here they are:

Lev Rubin: If he's so clever, then why is he so dumb?
The scum in uniform: That's why they're in uniform.
Sologdin was stuck up.
Bobynin: A real man. I mean, look – he even chose his own death.
Gerasimovich: He should have been nicer to Churikova [who played Gerasimovich's wife – Trans.]. If he didn't make that crap, somebody else would.
Mironov, or, rather, Nerzhin, or, rather, Mironov: He was great in The Idiot!
Abakumov: Ohhh-kaaay (they had no idea who he was).
Major Shikin: People like him are the guys that really matter.
Pevtzov, or, rather, Volodin: Awful. Suicidal (for more detail, see below).


Those who hadn't read the novel may be reading it now.

The author and director, and especially the program planners, may now be figuring out that "slicing" up a work into episodes destroys all cohesion. If we had been able to see even two episodes at a time (which would only have taken ninety minutes), that would have produced a qualitatively different impression.

The types that Sologdin and Rubin were supposed to embody did not, in my view, work on screen. That is only to be expected: a cinematic character should invariably be presented through action. That is why Volodin and Abakumov are so convincing, added to which those two actors are best at portraying fear, though fear of two very different kinds! Although Gerasimovich is silent during his wife's visit, his suffering is largely acted out by Churikova. Just picture the brilliant Churikova having also been forced into silence in that scene. In order for the viewer to invest it with the necessary meaning, a montage would have been necessary, comparable to the tight close-ups on Joan's face in The Passion of Joan of Arc [Carl Theodor Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc].

At the hub of Sologdin's character is his direct life experience of communion with higher things. He is a Russian nobleman and will always be, whether in or out of prison. But in the novel, Rubin, too, is no collaborator; he is a Communist and Marxist – and indeed a passionate devotee of that "secular religion" – so he, too, will always be who he is, in or out of prison. Both Sologdin and Rubin are men of faith. This is the tragedy – that all the characters, including Nerzhin, have faith. Their faith is their "point of convergence," and it allows Nerzhin to reconcile his quarreling friends before they all say their last goodbyes. But outside the action, using only dialogue, the film was unable to uncover that point of convergence. Therefore the scene of reconciliation struck me as artificial, since I not only knew the names of Sologdin and Rubin and knew what would happen to them but had also at one point read Dmitry Panin and Lev Kopelev [the real-life prototypes for Sologdin and Rubin – Trans.].

Many people know that the USSR already had the atom bomb in 1949. So what Volodin did is a historical anachronism that is also present in Solzhenitsyn's novel.***** It stood between some people (not me) and the novel. But the miniseries still ended up making the nonreaders wonder how one could possibly betray one's own intelligence operatives to the other side.

How odd that Solzhenitsyn the screenwriter did not see that one coming.

* * *

They say that people mobbed the bookstores looking for Solzhenitsyn's novel and that several publishers were quick to reissue it in large print runs. God grant the rumor is true!

* The logs from a labor camp are believed to have the whereabouts of prisoners carved into them. – Trans.
** From Joseph Brodsky, "Letters to a Roman Friend," trans. George L. Kline in Collected Poems in English, p. 59. – Trans.
*** A line from Pasternak's "You Are in the Wind That Tests with a Branch" ("Ty v vetre, vetkoi probuiushschem"). – Trans.
**** In "Strapping Marksman, Careful Hunter" ("Rosly strelok, ostorozhny okhotnik"). – Trans.
***** Volodin's efforts to disrupt Soviet intelligence operations and thus prevent the development of the bomb in the USSR. – Trans.