The Stalin Epigram
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It was a time of tremendous activity by the State Organs, ever vigilant for those people who were determined to wreck the coming Communist utopia.
Every time I thought I would quit and not finish the book, something happened in it to lead me on further.
The constant struggle of the pe...more
The main plot is around the poet Ossip Mandelstamm who is brave enough to compose a poem in which he criticise Stalin. I don't spoil too much when I say this will not end well.
The novel is told in form of reports from different people, which gives the book an interesting dynamic. Sometimes, it is very disturbing when...more
Author did extensive reserach of life and circle of the poet. He certanly knows his ropes but some nuances in the relationships do not ring true or some people's motives not bear resemblance to the real life in Russia.
Most of all I did not like the author's approach to put his thoughts into the brain of the well-known poet and write many chapters from his 'first face'. There is no way to know for sure what Osip Mande...more
Critics agree that The Stalin Epigram is a powerful novel. Littell, who met with Osip's wife in 1979 and recorded the story of his imprisonment and death, tells a harrowing, almost absurdist tale of imprisonment, exile, and death in the Soviet state. Turning from his Soviet spy thrillers, Littell provides an impeccably researched historical backdrop, and his multiple perspectives offer a full picture of the era's emotional and physical horrors. The strength of the book lies in Littell's command...more
I have mixed feelin...more
The book employs many different narrative voices including such real people as Anna Ahkmatova, Boris Pasternak, Osip's wife Nadezhda Mandelstam Stalin's bodyguard Nikolai Vlasik and even the "Kremlin Highlander" himself. Mantelstam's story is contrasted with the story of a circus strongman who is...more
It is one thing to try to get into the mind of an historical figure through dialogue but to actually hold forth at length as if writing from his or her mi...more
It's a very interesting fictionaized account of one of Russia's great poets, Osip Mandelstam, during the 1930's when Stalin crushed all free expression and decreed that the arts should serve only the purpose of the communist party. Russian writer's were arrested and perscuted for even the slightest suspicion of them writing anything critical of the regime. The book's title is taken from a epigram poem Osip wrote critical of Stali...more
Osip Mandelstam's life takes a decisive turn when he decides to "stop beating around the bush" and tell the truth about the horrors of Stalinist Russia; Anna Ahkmatova, Boris Pasternak, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Stalin and several other characters, most notably "simple" weightlifter turned circus performer Fikrit Shotman appear in a darkly funny but ultimately tragic novel about the human meat grinder that was communism and one its worst incarnations in Stalin's...more
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Bent over our small linoleum-covered kitchen table with a crust of bread under one leg to keep it from wobbling...
... marked by a wealth of detail and a poverty of ideas, but then propaganda doesn't need ideas.
Osip once seriously explained to me that most men and some women never cried because they were afraid of not being able to stop.
I have the good fortune to live in a country where poetry is respected--people are killed for reading, for writing it.
Screaming has a lot in commo...more
Sorry Mr. Littell, I thought this a waste of time.