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The Story of a Life by Konstantin Paustovsky

The Story of a Life (1964)

by Konstantin Paustovsky

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Story of a Life (Omnibus)

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Konstantin Paustovsky, a Soviet author, was a contender for the Nobel the year it went to Boris Pasternak. It is his epic multi-volume memoir -- the first 3 volumes under review here published as an omnibus in 1964 [Trans. Joseph Barnes] -- for which he is most famous. Konstantin grew up in old Russia under Tsar Nicholas and came of age in the turbulent WWI and Civil War period during which Russia blew apart. The focus of this part of the memoir is from about 1900 to 1920. His story is brimming with incident and adventure, each page a new amazing story, and lovely description, Konstantin was in the middle of history. The scary old man on the cover doesn't do the book justice. Konstantin writes with poetic grace, like those beautiful old color pictures of Russia, he is both familiar and foreign with one foot in the old world and one in the new. He bridges the divide and is conscious of it, which makes his memoir so fascinating. One can understand it intellectually, but through Konstantin you experience the fragile autumn of Russia and descent into winter. A remarkable and wonderful story, sadly forgotten. ( )
  Stbalbach | May 10, 2013 |
Russian literature produced two of the world’s greatest autobiographies in the middle of the 20th century: Nadezhda Mandelstam's Hope Against Hope and Konstantin Paustovsky's The Story of a Life.
added by Stbalbach | editThe Neglected Books Page (Jul 11, 2007)
“The Story of a Life is one of the most surprisingly wonderful books it has ever been my pleasure to read.”
added by Stbalbach | editNew York Times, Orville Prescott
..the most notable export from behind the Iron Curtain since Doctor Zhivago and Zoshchenko
Paustovsky is not a thinker. He neither analyzes nor theorizes, nor has he any unusual or profound insights. His occasional, somewhat commonplace, reflections are the weakest part of his book. But he has courage and honesty, an unaffected and very engaging simplicity, a clear eye for detail, a retentive memory, an avid thirst for experience, a generous, tolerant, sympathetic attitude to human beings, and an enormous capacity for appreciation. He makes no claim to be either historian or philosopher; he writes simply about himself, a dedicated man, possessed by two great loves, a love of his country and of literature.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Konstantin Paustovskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barnes, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duncan, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harari, ManyaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This work contains two omnibus editions. The Barnes translation (Pantheon Books - old-face cover and later paperback edition) contains volumes 1-3. The Duncan & Harari translation (London:Harvill - red cover) contains volumes 2-4.
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