One day at Lavrenty Palik – The Moscow Times Russian Service

It is clear that in the current creeping re-Stalinization, Lokomotiv wants to run ahead, they will probably soon propose to rename Solzhenitsyn Street (formerly Bolshaya Kommunististskaya) in Moscow to Beria Street, and Sakharov Avenue to Suslov Avenue . But is Solzhenitsyn really mandatory in the school curriculum?

old bookcase

I was 14, the roughest time for stagnation in the yard – the early 1980s. It was very boring. In the corridor of our Moscow apartment there was a huge clumsy bookcase made of bog oak, and I had already read almost everything that was interesting to read in it. I didn’t want to open collected works by adults, and children’s books were no longer pleasing. And then one day, raiding this cabinet, I found a small pamphlet in the back of the thick volumes, as if accidentally closed by other volumes. The author’s name sounded familiar: every iron spoke about him as a cynic of our glorious Soviet system! But the pamphlet was published in the USSR. It was called “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”.

Of course, I climbed into a comfortable chair and started reading it! And… I couldn’t put it down until I was done. And he got up from his chair as a different person. No, it’s not that I didn’t know about oppression before, but it was infinitely far away, like the Tatar-Mongol yoke or the extermination of Indians in America. I also remembered that my relatives were not spared from repression, but it was a memory of something abstract, like an accident with human victims. And the book made me feel and understand: so it was! More recently: Ivan Denisovich is from the generation of my grandparents. They are still alive, they are among us – and they are silent about it! They don’t gather at the Bolshoi Theater on May 9, they don’t appear on television, they don’t go to schools to talk about their experiences like war veterans … Why, why are we talking about this Have you forgotten?

It seems that The Gulag Archipelago had already fallen into my hands when it was published in the magazine Novy Mir in the USSR, then there were other books and articles, of which “In the First Circle” seems to me the most profound and most accurate. because in it, Solzhenitsyn described his own experience, and gave a cross-section of the larger Soviet society on either side of the grid. I remember how, while studying abroad in Amsterdam, I read, and with great interest, the huge and sticky “Red Wheel”, and only regretted that it ended at the most interesting moment. But these are not books for teenagers.

forever inconvenient isaich

And only later, of course, I found out how many inaccuracies turned out to be in the Archipelago (but could it be with closed archives?), And Shalamov criticized Solzhenitsyn for being unrealistic: One Day a Cat Roamed camp, so the real Kolyma convicts must have caught him and eaten him on the very first day. But it didn’t really matter anymore. Errors in details could not undo the turmoil that had already happened in me.

At the same time, his journalism came, where many things surprised, for example, the claim of northern Kazakhstan as primarily Russian land. But I remember: “In my heart there is no place for the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and if, God forbid, it ends, I can say: never, under any circumstances, I I myself will not go, nor will I let my sons go to the Russian-Ukrainian skirmish – no matter what crazy heads drag us to it. Look what’s enough, – I thought then, – these are the absurdities that the old man sees!

I remember his return to Russia, when state propaganda tried to present him as an ardent supporter of the new, Yeltsin government and its reforms – and received harsh criticism. I remember how I watched his performance with my childhood friend from the village in his house (the TV was on) and how we unexpectedly agreed with the guy: “Yes, whoever says everything is right, That’s what gives power!” – and at the same time they understood that it was completely unthinkable, that he was so free to speak because he was not in power.

I remember how the new, Putin administration tried to lean against Solzhenitsyn, and how at first this alliance seemed quite organic. After this he reached the school program. And I remember that even then I was surprised: schoolchildren would not master the “Archipelago” at all, and the great “One Day” or “Matryona Dvor” – well … the characters are still flat, cardboard, Positive characters are simply ideal, and in fact Varlam as a writer is much stronger than Shalamov. To show this whole mechanism of dehumanization, to give the teenagers of Kolyma Tales less terrible ones like Maxim. Or even Nabokov’s “The Lake, the Cloud, the Tower” and “The Destruction of Tyrants” – this is what accurately described the decline of totalitarianism, and even before Auschwitz!

But it so happened that it was Solzhenitsyn who opened my eyes. And millions of other people around the world too.

“The theater is closing, we are all sick”

And now let’s imagine the worst: they will exclude from the school curriculum everything that does not at least slightly coincide with the current state propaganda, such as “Pushkin’s freedom-loving songs”, about IN all generations of Soviet and Russian schoolchildren wrote essays , and only the Fadeevs – Mikhalkovs – would be stuffed there – Prilepins of all stripes (I must remind you, by the way, that they began to study Fadeev from the novel “The Root” done, it’s also a questionable title).

And what will happen then? Yes, in general, nothing. I myself went to the same school. Where there was a real teacher instead of a literature teacher, she found ways to talk about the main thing with the teenagers. In all other cases, the reading of literature turned out to be some kind of inevitable drudgery – and this, let me remind you, in those years when there was neither the Internet nor the opportunity to read unauthorized taboo. Now it is not like that at all.

So the result will be predictable: “The theater is closing, we are all sick,” as in one of the miniatures by Daniel Kharms. By the way, who would I introduce into the school curriculum, and not just nursery rhymes about Plich and Plukh, primitive, but these absurd miniatures of them. Using his example, you can perfectly show how the texts are arranged, because Kharms constantly violates all the unwritten rules for their construction.

But what about ideology? And what will schoolchildren learn so useful, uplifting from the work of Kharms? No problem. Maybe it’s time to stop treating school as the first stage of an army barracks with mandatory political training? It is designed to teach how to work with materials, in particular – with texts. Contrary to what Yevtushenko claims, a poet in Russia can only be a poet.

Lavrenty Palych Version 2.0 is definitely with us, not for a day. I think for a few more years. We will see a new school curriculum, and new monuments on the renamed streets of cities, and new penalty-terms for “fake”, ie. For unwillingness to recognize the reality of fakes made from top to bottom. But in parallel, you need to create other narratives, write other books, make films and stage performances. Definitely needed.

We have to refill the scorched desert.

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