Date of Submission
Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literature
Project Advisor 1
In a letter from 1972, the author of Kolyma Tales and survivor of the gulag Varlam Shalamov, declared “In my prose, I consider myself the inheritor of the Pushkinian tradition <…>.” Indeed, in Kolyma Tales, Shalamov exhibited a studied understanding of Pushkin’s artistic technique. Through his implementation of Pushkinian artistic principles, Shalamov was seeking to restore the poet’s image to what it had been prior to the Soviet Union’s politicized interpretation while simultaneously revealing the truth about life in the labor camps to a readership that could not otherwise fathom what the inmates endured on day-to-day basis. In writing this paper, my aim is to demonstrate how Shalamov manifests Pushkinian narrative strategies in his work of documentary prose. I first consider how the Soviet writer, in response to Pushkin’s poem, “I have raised a monument to myself,” formulated his authorial mission. I follow this up with a comparison of Pushkin’s Belkin Tales with several of Shalamov’s short stories. I emphasize Shalamov’s implementation of the principles of “the poetization of prose,” as outlined by Wolf Schmid. I conclude my analysis with a look at Pushkin’s historical works, in particular The History of the Pugachev Rebellion, and how he defined the role of the historian. I then compare Pushkin’s views on the subject of history to those of Shalamov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Ultimately, I hope to have proven that Shalamov’s commitment to Pushkin’s legacy resulted in a canonical body of work unsurpassed in its honesty, clarity and artistic and civic merit.
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Meraz, Andres I., "Shalamov's Testament: Pushkinian Precepts in Kolyma Tales" (2020). Senior Projects Spring 2020. 310.
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