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Matryona's House and Other Stories (edition 1975)

by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn

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841143,474 (3.58)2
Member:Geedge
Title:Matryona's House and Other Stories
Authors:Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (1975), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Russian Literature, Short Stories

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Matryona's House and Other Stories by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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I'm not sure if I'd ever read Solzhenitsyn's fiction before - I have a vague recollection of starting August 1914 and not finishing it - so this was an interesting beginning. A couple of shortish novellas, some short stories, and a set of "prose poems".

The novellas: An Incident at Krechetovka Station has an almost incidental plot - the scene seems much more vividly expressed than the sad little sideline of the "incident" itself, almost as though this was written for a larger work and then had the event shoved in as an afterthought to make it a story. The protagonist is a humane and intelligent man who simultaneously is a fervent (and paranoid) patriot; the two combine messily when he meets a stranger at the wrong moment. Tragic, but it isn't easy to feel much for the protagonist; he isn't quite right as a character, I feel. I would have loved to read the novel this never became.

Matryona's House was, again, very much a portrait of a little world, a collectivised rural village, seen through the eyes of an ex-convict narrator (like the author himself). The title character is his landlady, an aging and friendless widow, who suffers a dull and hard-working life for little reward before dying in a somewhat senseless accident. Sad, but very evocative of a time and a place and an archetype.

The remaining short stories are nicely done, though the poems didn't have much effect on me at all. This may just be the effect of translation...
  generalising | Feb 8, 2009 |
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