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The Faculty of Useless Knowledge

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  110 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Dombrovsky's tale of an exiled intellectual who, in the far province of Alma-Ata, becomes an archeologist and is arrested and interrogated by a Stalinist prosecutor (who will later himself become a target of the Great Terror), is largely autobiographical. It is also vivid and courageous fiction, bringing to life a host of stunning characters including a young archeologist, ...more
Paperback, 533 pages
Published 1996 by The Harvill Press (first published 1978)
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Stephanie
Dec 02, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review will be as much about a favorite book of mine, Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, as it is about the ostensible subject of the review, The Faculty of Useless Knowledge, by Yury Dombrovsky. This comparison is forced on me: I classify Bulgakov as being in the same group of authors as Nikolai Gogol and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that is, authors who use magic and magical realism as a satirical tool in books that are exponentially more than just satires. So why compare Bulgakov and ...more
Juan Jiménez García
Yuri Dombrovski. Vida y existencia

No, la vida es bellísima, es la existencia la que a menudo es insoportable. Esta frase, dicha por uno de los personajes de Yuri Dombrovski, podría ser el resumen no ya de todo un libro, sino de toda una vida. Eso si no consideramos que este libro, en sí mismo, es toda una vida. Una vida que dura un mes, solo un mes, aunque tras su lectura, como le ocurre a su protagonista, no podamos dejar de pensar que se sucedieron los años e incluso los siglos. La facultad de
...more
Ray
Jan 07, 2013 Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book looks closely at the early Soviet Union from the perspectives of several main characters --- one imprisoned for interrogation, one of his interrogators, one of his professional peers, a forester who was formerly an Orthodox priest, and a cast of minor characters.

Ultimately, the book is about betrayal and the human spirit, but is seen through the lens of Stalin's purge of 1937.

The book is not for the fainthearted --- parts of it are very disturbing, as you might imagine. It's also not
...more
Galina Beltyukova
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pi.
Jan 25, 2016 Pi. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Querido Pitufo,

La facultad de las cosas inútiles tiene un bello título. Si no hubiera leído a los Hermanos Karamazov y el proceso de Kafka encontraría el libro muy muy bueno. Pero la competencia es dura!

Tiene en contra escribir sobre lo que ya se ha escrito (el surrealismo burocrático) con el adicional que ha nadie sorprende saber algo así sobre la Unión Soviética (entonces no está el punto positivo de -me enseñó historia-).

Está bien escrito y resulta razonablemente entrenido. Tiene pasajes rema
...more
Anna
Mar 17, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book gives teriffying insights into the history of the young Sovjet Union. Beeing a child of a late Sovjet Union, I could understand better the older generation, which wanted to destroy the USSR or to leave it. And after such a book I could not understand, how some people could wish a come back of the Sovjet regime...
Perfect style of the autor, his "relief" characters capture you and lead through the story of broken lives. At the end I understood, there were no victims and executioners, but
...more
Жанна Пояркова
Домбровский - жертва режима, факт, но не писатель. В итоге как изображение удушающей жизни, где нечего и негде вдохнуть, книга удачна, как литературное произведение - крайне слаба. Т.е. для кого-то это teriffying insights об истории СССР, а мы-то в курсе, как обстоят дела. И все же задевает, потому что следователи остаются такими же, как были, а за смелость написать книгу автора убили.
Steve Love
This was probably the biggest, most challenging book I'd ever read at the time and I didn't realize what I was getting into. I remember just trying to plow through it back then. I liked it, but it was tough. I didn't figure out what was going on until halfway through. I'd like to read it again now that I might be able to appreciate it better.
Natasha
Nov 22, 2014 Natasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Очень хорошо написано, в меру иронично, насколько это позволяет тема, читается как что-то современное, никаких советских штампов. Хотелось бы еще что-нибудь про этот роман прочитать.
Monica
Dec 29, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beletristica
Mi s-a parut o...dezvoltare pe multe pagini a indemnului lui Churchill cu "never give in", dar e mai mult de-atat. Cred ca merita citita (si recitita).
Aleksandra Ershova-Platt
This is such an amazing book! Breathtaking!
Bryn Hammond
Defeated. I might pick up again.
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777856
Yury Osipovich Dombrovsky (Russian: Юрий Осипович Домбровский) (May 12, 1909 - May 29, 1978) was a Russian writer who spent nearly eighteen years in Soviet prison camps and exile.

Dombrovsky was the son of Jewish lawyer Joseph Hedal Dombrovsky and Russian mother. Yury fell foul of the authorities as early as 1932, for his part in the student suicide case described in The Faculty of Useless Knowledg
...more
More about Yury Dombrovsky...

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