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And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov
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And Quiet Flows the Don (1928)

by Mikhail Sholokhov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Don Epic (1)

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» See also 72 mentions

English (12)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Fictional account of the Cossack culture during the Russian Revolution ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 10, 2017 |
A 20th century Cossack 'War and Peace'
By sally tarbox on 7 November 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Set in the Russian lands bordering the Ukraine, this mammoth (615 p) read opens up just prior to WW1. The first section, 'Peace', follows the Cossack Melekhov family. Theirs is a hard agricultural life and a traditional one, where marriages are arranged and where the Church is at the centre of life. Yet even so, younger son Gregor is involved in a secret relationship with his neighbour's wife... Sholokhov's writing is compelling, his descriptions of the countryside bordering the Don poetic.
And then we enter the second section as "War" is declared, and the Melekhov men join up. But as "Revolution" and "Civil War" take over, I found it all a bit much. We move away from the Melekhovs and find ourselves following umpteen different characters, as the Cossacks go in different political directions, some persuaded by the Red Bolshevik message, others fearful that this will mean their precious lands are confiscated. There are certainly powerful scenes, but also a lot of political talk which seemed to go on for page after page.
Having recently finished reading Shalamov's 'Kolyma Tales' (about Stalin's Siberian gulags), the naive beliefs of an idyllic future under proletarian leadership struck me as particularly sad:
"When every government is a workers' government they won't fight any more...What shall we have to fight about then? Away with frontiers, away with anger! One beautiful life all over the world...I'd pour out my blood drop by drop to live to see that day."
Certainly a masterly work - but I was glad to reach the last page! ( )
2 vote starbox | Nov 6, 2016 |
Utterly magnificent. ( )
1 vote ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
I liked the first 2 of the 4 sections very much but unfortunately, I struggled with the last 2 parts. These final parts, "Revolution" and "Civil War", left the characters from the first sections aside for the majority of the text and the descriptions of fighting were of much less interest to me.

I did find the information about the Cossacks fascinating -- their position pre-World War 1 was not that of the aristocracy yet they were landowners (mostly small farmers). They worked hard at physical labor but viewed themselves as better than the peasants and the workers. This situation led to additional conflict during the Civil War that followed the Russian Revolution as they had sympathies & interests in common with both sides. ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Mar 21, 2016 |
This tome was written in 1928 in the Soviet Union, and, together with its sequel ‘The Don Flows Home to the Sea’ (1939), earned Mikhail Sholokhov the Nobel Prize. Sholokhov grew up in the Don region of Southern Russia, and in this book illustrated the culture of the Cossacks there before WWI, during it, and afterwards, during the revolution and civil war. It’s historical fiction on a grand scale, and well worth reading.

Beware, however, that Sholokhov is explicit in describing the horrors of war, and despite my initial suspicion that he may have been doing so to explain why Revolution was justified under pressure from Soviet editors, he shows violence and injustice perpetrated by all sides – the Germans, White Russians, Bolsheviks, and Cossack separatists. In the fight for control of Russia, each side’s view is expressed, and no faction emerges ‘pure’. The book reminded me of Michael Bulgakov’s ‘White Guard’, just set in the Don region of Southern Russia, instead of Kiev.

In this case, what’s at stake is the Cossack way of life. As they waver in their support for any particular side, it’s clear that mostly what they want is for the 3-4 year war to end so that they can return home, and for things to remain as they were. As the Whites may continue the war, or ask them to do things like protect St. Petersburg when their hearts weren’t in it, and as the Reds may take their land in the end and distribute it to the workers or peasants, it’s also clear that independence was what they really needed, and deserved. The book ends with brutal executions of Red officers and soldiers, with a foreboding warning that this would not be the end of it, and indeed, aside from what Sholokhov may say in the sequel which I haven’t gotten to yet, history teaches us of Stalin’s ‘decossackization’ and genocide.

I think the book is best in the first two sections, ‘Peace, and ‘War’; the ones that follow (‘Revolution’ and ‘Civil War’) are good, but as the fighting was a bit pell-mell with shifting sides and allegiances, while he describes historical reality, he defocuses a bit from the initial main characters. He is great at describing the inevitable attraction of men and women, and while he couldn’t be explicit in the sex and shameless adultery that followed, he was explicit in the horrible violence women endured. A brutal and hair-raising example of this was the gang rape of a young kitchen-maid by soldiers that ends ‘Peace’.

In showing Aksinia cheating on Stepan, then later cheating on Gregor, compelled to follow her human nature despite the destructive consequences and beatings she’ll endure, Sholokhov seems to be drawing a parallel to human nature to (as if by gravity!) fight for power and to wage war. He never lectures, letting actions speak for themselves, but seems to say, or perhaps illustrate, that we simply can’t help ourselves. ( )
5 vote gbill | Aug 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
An epic novel in four volumes by Russian writer Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov!
 

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mikhail Sholokhovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Daglish, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laín Entralgo, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Not with the plough is our dear, glorious earth furrowed,
Our earth is furrowed with the hoofs of horses;
And our dear, glorious earth is sown with the heads of cossacks:
Our gentle Don is adorned with youthful widows:
Out gentle father Don is blossomed with orphans;
The waves of the gentle Don are rich with fathers' and mothers' tears.

"O thou, our father, gentle Don!
Oh why dost thou, gentle Don, flow so troubledly?"
"Ah, how should I, the gentle Don, not flow troubledly?
From my depths, the depths of the Don, the cold springs beat;
Amid me, the gentle Don, the white fish leap."

-Old Cossack Songs
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The Melekhov farm was right at the end of Tatarsk village.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679725210, Paperback)

The first episode in Mikhail Sholokhov's portrayal of life in a Cossack village, 1910-20. In it he juxtaposes the character of Gregor, a proud and rebellious peasant farmer, against that of Misha, an obedient Party man. The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1965.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This novel follows the fortunes of the Don Cossacks in peace and war, revolution and civil war, and is centred around Gregor Melekhov and his home village of Tatarsk over the tumultuous second decade of the twentieth century in Russia. It follows the doomed love story of Gregor and Aksinia and the shifting of Gregor's political alignment from the provisional government to Communism to Cossack nationalism.… (more)

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