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Children of the Arbat (1987)

by Anatolij Rybakow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Arbat tetralogy (1)

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648828,931 (4.03)33
Historical story.

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English (6)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (8)
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Children of the Arbat was a sensation when it first became available to Soviet readers in 1987. A landmark text of glasnost, it was written between 1966 and 1983 but had been suppressed as anti-Stalinist and was therefore distributed only via very risky underground means known in the USSR as samizdat. But during the Perestroika era the novel was released in serial form in newspapers and its sequels 1935 and Other Years (1989), Fear (1990) and Dust & Ashes (1994) became available too. Children of the Arbat, set in the 1930s, is partly autobiographical: like the central character Sasha Pankratov, Anatoli Rybakov (1911-1998) was himself exiled to Siberia for three years.

There are three strands to the story: Sasha’s arrest for spurious reasons and his exile to Siberia; life in Moscow as his girlfriend Varya Ivanova waits for his return; and the depiction of Stalin as he plots to cement his power by eliminating all opposition. The title is instructive: the Arbat today is a tourist precinct, a lively hub of commercial activity in the historic heart of Moscow. (It’s the only place I’ve ever been where you are offered a free vodka (neat!) as soon as you walk into a shop!) Before the Soviet era it was a place for artists, intellectuals and academics, and and today as it becomes gentrified it’s still a desirable place to live. But in the Soviet era it was where high-ranking officials lived, and the title of the book refers to the generation born at the time of the Russian Revolution, and by the 1930s were young adults who had grown up believing in its ideals. They were privileged by comparison with most people in the Soviet Union because they had better access to education and opportunity, they were in a position to see the economic progress being made under rapid industrialisation, and they were forgiving of the human cost because they saw it as an unavoidable aspect of the creation of the Soviet State which they wholeheartedly supported. The novel charts the slow disillusionment of this generation as they begin to see the consequences of rule by terror.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/02/19/children-of-the-arbat-by-anatoli-rybakov-tra... ( )
2 vote anzlitlovers | Feb 19, 2017 |
A great story capturing the caprice of human nature, the indifference of the Soviet system to the individual in the name of the state, and in the name of Stalin. The depiction of Stalin's paranoia is compelling. I can't wait to read "Fear." I want to know how the story continues as the "Great Patriotic War" approaches. Thanks for the recommendations LibraryThing, this is opening up a new area of reading for me. This all happened on chance; I visited Moscow in June, walked on Arbat St., now a pleasant, if touristy, pedestrian mall near the Foreign Ministry. Even the architectural design of that building, if I understand the history of Moscow's "Seven Sisters" correctly, comes up in this novel (obliquely). ( )
  vsnunez | Aug 5, 2013 |
Suppressed by the Soviet Union for over twenty years, Anatoli Rybakov's Children of the Arbat is destined to rank with Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago as a classic of historical fiction. Set in 1934, Children of the Arbat presents a masterful and chilling psychological portrait of Stalin and details the beginning of its reign of terror and its impact on a generation - represented by a circle of young friends living in Moscow's intellectual and artistic centre, the Arbat.

Sasha Pankratov, a young engineering student and loyal member of the Young Communist League, is unjustly accused of subversion, arrested, and subsequently exiled to Siberia. Interwined with the story of Sasha, his family, and his friends, as they struggle against a glowing plague of deceit and fear, is a riveting account of Stalin's burgeoning paranoia. Rybakov exposes the roots of Stalin's megalomania and the cold, calculating scheme to assassinate his colleague Kirov, providing the excuse to unleash the Terror.

( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Um retrato arrepiante da Rússia sob Stálin. Tenho que ler o resto da trilogia. ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Informative novel about life in Stalinist Russia, especially Siberia. ( )
  xine2009 | Sep 25, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
added by doomjesse | editKirkus (May 1, 1988)

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rybakow, AnatolijAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elperin, JuriÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prins, AaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasch, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stapert, FransTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Maya deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Between Nikolsky and Denezhny streets (today they are called Plotnikov and Vesnin) stood the biggest apartment block in the Arbat---three eight-story buildings, one close behind the other, the front one glazed with a facade of white tiles.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Historical story.

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Suppressed by the Soviet Union for over 20 years, this is a novel written in the tradition of the Russian social novel of the 19th century. It is a geological cross-section of "terra incognita" revealing all the layers of society of the early 1930s in Moscow. [Amazon.co.uk]
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