[ ePUB ] Kolyma TalesAuthor Varlam Shalamov – Schematicwiringdiagram.co

It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced labour camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia Shalamov himself spent seventeen years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, whose hopes and plans extended to further than a few hours This new enlarged edition combines two collections previously published in the United States as Kolyma Tales and Graphite


10 thoughts on “Kolyma Tales

  1. Jonfaith Jonfaith says:

    Kolyma Tales was my first used book purchase viaI feel obligated to honor our benefactor at every turn now I even touch my breast when I sayEmerging from a blue period, I truly had no idea how beautiful this harrowing account would be I don t detect any tension between the sublime and Kolyma Imre Kert sz has taught me well It is chance, it is human Survival simply wasn t possible Those that did emerge, were stripped of something A loss occurred Kolyma is a protean crea Kolyma Tales was my first used book purchase viaI feel obligated to honor our benefactor at every turn now I even touch my breast when I sayEmerging from a blue period, I truly had no idea how beautiful this harrowing account would be I don t detect any tension between the sublime and Kolyma Imre Kert sz has taught me well It is chance, it is human Survival simply wasn t possible Those that did emerge, were stripped of something A loss occurred Kolyma is a protean creation it is a novel, a collection, a testament, an indictment, a discarded path towards something which couldn t be Hope.Hungry men will always defend justice furiously if they are not too hungry or too exhausted.Consider my dilemma, I was so moved by this book over the last few days yet the events depicted are so alien and hostile as to defy comment I kept reading, finding myself strangely hungry I was spared the standard Kolyma dream of loaves of rye bread Even while quaffing ale, I thought about those that drank medical alcohol at the expense of their patients I thought repeatedly about the carpenter s puppy that s all I can say about that particular anecdote There are always foot rags to be adjusted, heels to be scratched time in the infirmary There are innumerable others I give Kolyma Tales my highest recommendation


  2. Rowena Rowena says:

    This was a tough read but one I am very glad to have read This was a collection of stories about the conditions in Soviet forced labour camps during the Stalinist regime It definitely filled in many of the knowledge gaps I had of what happened in the Siberian gulags Only someone who spent time in a Siberian labour camp could ever have come up with such a collection of short stories, stories that capture the abysmal conditions of the camps, describe what the camp does to the human psyche both This was a tough read but one I am very glad to have read This was a collection of stories about the conditions in Soviet forced labour camps during the Stalinist regime It definitely filled in many of the knowledge gaps I had of what happened in the Siberian gulags Only someone who spent time in a Siberian labour camp could ever have come up with such a collection of short stories, stories that capture the abysmal conditions of the camps, describe what the camp does to the human psyche both the prisoner s and the officer s , and the new codes the prisoners must adhere to What I found astounding were the details included in each story They were definitely not things most of us would consider Nature in the north is not impersonal or indifferent it is in conspiracy with those who sent us The disease, hunger, violence and despair are all described in descriptive detail The conditions beg the question does anybody really deserve to be sent to such places, regardless of the crime they allegedly committed Siberia is a place where winter temperatures are often around 60F, where temperatures of 13F was considered summery Of course, what makes things even worse is the fact that most of the people sent to the camp weren t even criminals, but innocent victims of the Stalinist regime Plus, often their sentences were disproportionate to their supposed crimes The arrests of the thirties were arrests of random victims on the false and terrifying theory of a heightened class struggle accompanying the strengthening of socialism I liked the structure of the book it was divided into several short stories, each dealing with different characters Shalamov s tone was also very matter of fact, so it was easier for me to handle the gruesome details This is definitely such an important work of literature I can only imagine with his 17 years of living in Kolyma, Shalamov had to get everything out of his system To end with a quote I really liked Life repeats Shakespearian themesoften than we think A big THANK YOU to Vera for recommending this book to me


  3. Vit Babenco Vit Babenco says:

    Kolyma Tales is a book in which every story is a dirge of sorrow How is a road beaten down through the virgin snow One person walks ahead, sweating, swearing, and barely moving his feet He keeps getting stuck in the loose, deep snow He goes far ahead, marking his path with uneven black pits When he tires, he lies down on the snow, lights a home made cigarette, and the tobacco smoke hangs suspended above the white, gleaming snow like a blue cloud The man moves on, but the cloud remains hover Kolyma Tales is a book in which every story is a dirge of sorrow How is a road beaten down through the virgin snow One person walks ahead, sweating, swearing, and barely moving his feet He keeps getting stuck in the loose, deep snow He goes far ahead, marking his path with uneven black pits When he tires, he lies down on the snow, lights a home made cigarette, and the tobacco smoke hangs suspended above the white, gleaming snow like a blue cloud The man moves on, but the cloud remains hovering above the spot where he rested, for the air is motionless Roads are always beaten down on days like these so that the wind won t sweep away this labor of man.Writing his book Varlam Shalamov was this man beating a road down through the virgin snow so the others could read it and follow in the footsteps of his memory.Supper was over Slowly Glebov licked the bowl and brushed the breadcrumbs methodically from the table into his left palm Without swallowing, he felt each miniature fragment of bread in his mouth coated greedily with a thick layer of saliva Glebov couldn t have said whether it tasted good or not Taste was an entirely different thing, not worthy to be compared with this passionate sensation that made all else recede into oblivion Glebov was in no hurry to swallow the bread itself melted in his mouth and quickly vanished.Hunger, horror, fear, humiliation everything was used to turn a thinking man into a stupid animal.Envy, like all our feelings, had been dulled and weakened by hunger We lacked the strength to experience emotions, to seek easier work, to walk, to ask, to beg We envied only our acquaintances, the ones who had been lucky enough to get office work, a job in the hospital or the stables wherever there was none of the long physical labor glorified as heroic and noble in signs above all the camp gates.The main task of the communist state was to turn a sentient individual into a thoughtless slave blindly obeying the dictator s will.The poet was dying His hands, swollen from hunger with their white bloodless fingers and filthy overgrown nails, lay on his chest, exposed to the cold He used to put them under his shirt, against his naked body, but there was too little warmth there now His mittens had long since been stolen to steal in the middle of the day all a thief needed was brazenness A dim electric sun, spotted by flies and shackled in a round screen, was affixed to the high ceiling Light fell on the poet s feet, and he lay, as if in a box, in the dark depths of the bottom layer of bunks that stretched in two unbroken rows all around the walls of the room Martyr is derived from the Greek word witness And Varlam Shalamov, among the millions of the silent victims, was a martyr of history too.The main task of a human being in any inhuman conditions is to survive


  4. [P] [P] says:

    I ve written before about the idea of an irrational attachment to life, which means that no matter how awful, how painful and degrading existence is one cannot forsake it Not only that but, with a miser s spirit, one actively clings to it Of course it is not true of all otherwise there would never be any suicide but it is certainly true of many, including me I had a very difficult childhood, and I would fantasise a lot about getting away, but at no point did I ever not want to be here I ve written before about the idea of an irrational attachment to life, which means that no matter how awful, how painful and degrading existence is one cannot forsake it Not only that but, with a miser s spirit, one actively clings to it Of course it is not true of all otherwise there would never be any suicide but it is certainly true of many, including me I had a very difficult childhood, and I would fantasise a lot about getting away, but at no point did I ever not want to be here Quite the opposite I would often cry in bed at night because I was so scared of dying There s something very funny about that, in a way some kid weeping begging please give meof this excruciating, this horrible life Why do some of us cling to life, no matter how awful that life may be You could argue that it is the masochistic impulse I believe in that, certainly I think we have both a sadistic and masochistic impulse one of which may bepronounced in some , and that these influence many of our behaviours I m not convinced, however, that the masochistic impulse is responsible in this case, because an attachment to life in awful circumstances need not involve actively seeking out those circumstances which would be necessary for me to consider it masochistic I think the desire to stay alive is abasic, primordial impulse A few years ago my cat fell out of a window and smashed his legs and split the palette in his mouth in two, but rather than lie down and succumb to what must have been a strong desire to give in he actually managed to drag himself out of the way of immediate danger and under a car His instinct for survival was, you might say, absurdly strong, but there it was, urging him to protect what was left of his pain wracked body It s an extraordinary thing, although It s not necessarily admirable.Varlam Shalamov spent, in total, seventeen years in prison and labour camps or Gulags After his final release he commenced work upon a collection of short stories that dealt with camp and prison life This collection came to be called Kolyma Tales Kolyma is the name of the region where the camp was located in which the author served ten years As this book, and others, attest life in the Russian labour camps was extraordinarily grim, with arctic conditions, beatings, scurvy, meagre rations, and near unendurable work being the norm the prisons weren t much better We have to squeeze everything out of a prisoner in the first three months after that we don t need him any Naftaly Frenkel, Camp commander from Solzhenitsyn s Gulag Archipelago Translation goner or doomed If there is a philosophical idea behind Shalamov s work it is what I wrote about in the opening paragraphs Most of his characters are survivors, as was the man himself, even though the desire to survive seems absurd Another day of this Of starvation, misery, exhaustion Yes Because what else is there but another day On numerous occasions the author is at pains to impress upon the reader that suffering, true suffering, does not engender camaraderie or ennoble the spirit The consequence of life in the camps is that the prisoners become animalistic, their engagement with life is reduced to that of instinct In many of his stories the most important thing to the characters is to get warm, or attempt to many also steal from the dead in order to give themselves a better chance of survival However, it is, once again, important to point out that for Shalamov this survival is absolutely not heroic, it just is This is emphasised by the author s dispassionate or matter of fact style It is a style that is reminiscent of Imre Kertesz s Fatelessness, yet lacks the Hungarian s subtle irony Shalamov plays it straight, without the hint of an upraised eyebrow.I do not want to give the impression, however, that the Russian s stories are thinly disguised autobiography, or that they are essentially a form of documentary or reportage To see them in this way does the writer a huge disservice What was most impressive, for me, aside from the incredible consistency, was the literary quality of each of Shalamov s short tales The structure and pacing, for example, are immaculate There is one story, In the Night, in which two men set out along a path leading to a pile of rocks One thinks, of course, that they have been put to work, especially when they start to move the rocks Yet the conclusion of the story reveals that what they are actually doing is digging up a deceased comrade, in order to steal his clothes There is no unnecessary exposition, no melodrama, just a great deal of control and a sharp, quick punch in the guts at the end In the Night is one of the earliest stories in the collection, and I knew after reading it that Shalamov was a master of the form.In the very best short stories there is a world both inside and outside of the narrative This is true also of Shalamov s work Take In the Night again where there is the actual narrated action, but also a host of unanswered questions about who the dead man is, how he died, who the two men digging him up are, how they came to be incarcerated, and so on In this way I was reminded strongly of Raymond Carver, whose snapshots are similarly restrained and yet suggestive of adetailed narrative that is ultimately left to your imagination Also like Carver, and Chekhov too, Shalamov is essentially apolitical and totally non judgemental For Carver and Chekhov that would have would been, one imagines, an easier feat than for this writer, whose tales all deal with people arrested often on trumped up charges under Stalin s government This refusal to fully engage with politics, the distance Shalamov maintains from the political climate of the time, serves to emphasise just how isolated, how cut off, his characters are from the outside world.Shalamov does, however, make frequent references to literature In certain stories he writes about Pushkin and Chekhov in others he mentions a deck of playing cards that are made out of a Victor Hugo novel and discusses how inmates who can retell well known or published stories are called novelists More interestingly, some of the prisoners are named after famous Russian characters, such as Tolstoy s Vronsky and Andrei Platonov, a real life figure, and fellow writer, also makes an appearance, even though we know, of course, that he never served time in a prison Russian writers, it has always struck me, are the most self referential, but Shalamov, I imagine, wasn t merely giving shout outs If you take Platonov as an example, he himself was a controversial figure, who Stalin apparently disliked, and so one might argue that he could easily, on this basis, have ended up in a camp, which were full of intellectuals anyway I think in using Platonov and Vronsky and so on, he is saying that this could literally happen to anyone, that anyone, no matter what their status is, could find themselves in this horrific situation Further, by populating his tales with well known Russians, in pointing to the country s golden past or literary heritage, one might argue that Shalamov, whether intentionally or not, is subtly saying look how we have come from that to this I d like to have my arms and legs cut off and become a human stump no arms or legs Then I d be strong enough to spit in their faces for everything they re doing to us


  5. Matt Matt says:

    I wasn t afraid of my memories. Varlam ShalamovIn 1966, Irina Sirotinskaya, a young mother working for the Russian State Archives, convinced Varlam Shalamov to let her preserve his works Upon first meeting him, after being warned of his brusque nature, she remarked how his character struck her My first impression of Varlam Tikhonovich Big There was the physique, tall and broad shouldered, and then a clear sense of an extraordinary, formidable personality from his first words, at first glanc I wasn t afraid of my memories. Varlam ShalamovIn 1966, Irina Sirotinskaya, a young mother working for the Russian State Archives, convinced Varlam Shalamov to let her preserve his works Upon first meeting him, after being warned of his brusque nature, she remarked how his character struck her My first impression of Varlam Tikhonovich Big There was the physique, tall and broad shouldered, and then a clear sense of an extraordinary, formidable personality from his first words, at first glance.They were to develop a friendship that would last until his death in 1982 This first meeting ended better than expected, with Irina asking to return and Shalamov remarking Come by I like you It is to this meeting, and subsequent friendship, that a debt is owed, for what was preserved is a masterpiece of 20th Century literature In Kolyma, in the far northeast of Russia, the gates above the prison camp entrance were emblazoned with the words Labor is a matter of honor, a matter of glory, a matter of valor and heroism, but it may as well have read ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE Hell under a different banner Through 86 stories, most of which are short, precise, and unceasingly palpable, Shalamov writes of his experiences in the Gulag prison system As a political prisoner sentenced under the sinister Article 58, he was entitled to exist in unremitting misery, where bread was what decided things waking early to endure 16 hour workdays mining for gold in temperatures reaching sixty degrees below zero Below fifty five degrees a gob of spit freezes solid in midair enduring beatings from the bosses, guards, foreman, and humiliations from the criminals the never ending search forrations of bread, tobacco, and warmth, only to slump into a plywood bunk when the day was done, embraced by fellow prisoners to keep warm, to make it through the night for a chance of surviving to the next day The suffering does not stop for a moment it does not give way to religious epiphanies, it does not provide any redemption or plausible explanation as to why one man survives, while the other dies You today, me tomorrow Perhaps this is why Shalamov is persistent in his belief that what separates human beings from every other living species on the planet is not our greater intelligence It is the unshakable will of humans to survive that allows resistance to death in such a place where the odds are ever in favor of the abyss And it is certainly why Shalamov proclaimed Every minute of camp life is poisoned In the wake of each story is an elegiac tone, in which Shalamov does not once tread into sentimentality, but rather mournful respect issued from a shared trauma It is often reiterated that there is no heroism in suffering, and it is best exemplified when Shalamov writes of the dead They were martyrs, not heroes Kolyma Stories is not just camp literature, but, in my view, a supreme work of art It is a work bereft of moralizing, judgments, lessons, resolutions, and situations that seem always to work out in the end Though Shalamov survived the camps, it was certainly not because he was ingrained with great wisdom from his experience, and this leads to a realization that what he has produced can be viewed only in the sense of what it is The conclusions are drawn only in the reader s mind Shalamov expressed his view of his works in this way My writing is noabout camps that St Exup ry s is about the sky or Melville s, about the sea My stories are basically advice to an individual on how to act in a crowd To be not just further to the left than the left, but alsoreal than reality itself For blood to be true and nameless.Irina Sirotinskaya wrote of the time she spent with Varlam Shalamov The Years We Talked recounts his decline and entrance into several nursing homes, where Irina would visit him less and less over time When Shalamov was moved to a new nursing home in January of 1982, nude, kicking, and screaming, it would be his last tussle with the hard life he had led He died two days later Sirotinskaya captured what followed On January 17, 1982, he died He died in the hands of strangers and no one understood his last words.Then there was the funeral, a troublesome matter Excited faces of strangers who wound up taking part in a sensation They put on an entire show I kept talking to him in my mind Don t be afraid, I m with you I had a clear feeling of his presence His dead face was serene I put in the pocket of his jacket a talisman of ours which he had given to me a long time ago have it on you at all times a small walrus, carved from walrus tusk.Farewell, my friend


  6. DoctorM DoctorM says:

    Powerful, unsettling, triumphant The best of the Gulag literature darker andprecise even than Ivan Denisovich Tales of survival, violence, hope, revolt, resistance, love, and death there in the world of the Gulag Sharp, concise, etched in ice and steel, and with a deep sense of human worth and the human heart You can t do 20th c Russian lit without reading this book Yes, Solzhenitsyn yes read First Circle and Ivan Denisovich But read this Just go get a copy Shalamov s Powerful, unsettling, triumphant The best of the Gulag literature darker andprecise even than Ivan Denisovich Tales of survival, violence, hope, revolt, resistance, love, and death there in the world of the Gulag Sharp, concise, etched in ice and steel, and with a deep sense of human worth and the human heart You can t do 20th c Russian lit without reading this book Yes, Solzhenitsyn yes read First Circle and Ivan Denisovich But read this Just go get a copy Shalamov s stories will stay with you the rest of your life


  7. Marianna Neal Marianna Neal says:

    Dark, bleak, and soul crushing I have a hard time reviewing books like this, and they always leave me with questions of whether there is a limit to the horrible things humans will do to each other, and how do we let these things happenFriendship is not born in conditions of need or trouble Literary fairy tales tell of difficult conditions which are an essential element in forming any friendship, but such conditions are simply not difficult enough If tragedy and need brought people toge Dark, bleak, and soul crushing I have a hard time reviewing books like this, and they always leave me with questions of whether there is a limit to the horrible things humans will do to each other, and how do we let these things happenFriendship is not born in conditions of need or trouble Literary fairy tales tell of difficult conditions which are an essential element in forming any friendship, but such conditions are simply not difficult enough If tragedy and need brought people together and gave birth to their friendship, then the need was not extreme and the tragedy not great Tragedy is not deep and sharp if it can be shared with friends He didn t want to die here in the frost under the boots of the guards, in the barracks with its swearing, dirt and total indifference written on every face He bore no grudge for people s indifference, for he had long since comprehended the source of that spiritual dullness The same frost that transformed a man s spit into ice in mid air also penetrated the soul If bones could freeze, then the brain could also be dulled and the soul could freeze over And the soul shuddered and froze perhaps to remain frozen forever


  8. Laura Laura says:

    Disturbing In some ways, this book is actually better than Solzhenitsyn s stuff Shalamov writes such short, concise stories that carry so much emotional punch There is even one story that is only one paragraph long that isdisturbing than an entire novel I love Shalamov, especially for his aesthetics.


  9. Thomas Thomas says:

    A very important, extraordinarily important period was beginning in my life I could sense that with my whole being I now had to prepare for life, not for death And I didn t know which was harder.Kolyma Stories is a collection of tales depicting the horrors of labor camp life in the Soviet Union Relentless and unforgiving Shalamov masterfully recreates his life experiences in the Gulag with harrowing detail As Shalamov poignantly states There are no lessons to be learned from Kolyma The ca A very important, extraordinarily important period was beginning in my life I could sense that with my whole being I now had to prepare for life, not for death And I didn t know which was harder.Kolyma Stories is a collection of tales depicting the horrors of labor camp life in the Soviet Union Relentless and unforgiving Shalamov masterfully recreates his life experiences in the Gulag with harrowing detail As Shalamov poignantly states There are no lessons to be learned from Kolyma The camps are a negative school of life in every possible way. We had learned to be meek we had forgotten how to be astonished We had no pride, no self esteem or self respect, while jealousy or passion seemed to us to be something only Martians might feel and, in any case was nonsense It was farimportant to learn the skills needed to button up your trousers in sub zero winter temperatures Grown men would weep when they found they could not do that We realized that death was no worse than life and we were afraid of neither We were in thrall to total indifference.


  10. Sunny Sunny says:

    stunning book about a convicts 17 years in a Siberian death camp The author who was In the camp writes some short stories of his time there Think a day in the life of Ivan denisovic x 100 times worse In fact Solzhenitsyn held shalamov in very high regard This book is one of the biggest magnifying glasses into the human psyche that I have ever read Some incredible truths in this book that feel so out of place in normal society Some of the most interesting short stories were shock therapy, stunning book about a convicts 17 years in a Siberian death camp The author who was In the camp writes some short stories of his time there Think a day in the life of Ivan denisovic x 100 times worse In fact Solzhenitsyn held shalamov in very high regard This book is one of the biggest magnifying glasses into the human psyche that I have ever read Some incredible truths in this book that feel so out of place in normal society Some of the most interesting short stories were shock therapy, major pugachovs last battle, my first tooth, condensed milk and the train Some incredible hints and tips on how to survive both physically and mentally and most importantly, spiritually in a place like that if u were ever put there god forbid