Sunday, April 17, 2016

(RNL List #84) "Daylight Stars" by Olga Berggoltz (Russia)

Rating: 2.5 out of 3

Now to be honest, I hadn't expected to like this book as much as I did, however, I must admit that I was won over by Berggoltz's semi auto-biographical book comprised of snippets from her childhood during the Revolutionary War all the way up till Post-World War II.

The writing is very bright, hopeful and idealistic - in brief- rather characteristic of Soviet prose of the era, and in sharp contrast to the bleak, terrifying conditions that Soviet society faced at the time. Among other reminiscences, Berggoltz writes of her memories of two wars, the horrible siege of Leningrad that resulted in the deaths of innumerable soldiers and civilians, and she even makes a slight reference to her own, deeply personal personal tragedies (the loss of her husband, children and a terrible episode in the 30's during which she was arrested by the Soviet government).

Through all this, Berggoltz remains optimistic, hopeful of the future and in love with humanity. It seems a little naive now, it seems a little surreal to our jaded 21st century sensibilities, but there's something really beautiful about the Soviet spirit, and this is reflected well in Berggoltz's prose.

This is a novel that belongs to another age, and that will likely be forgotten, although it is worth a read.

NEXT UP: Yet another book on the exile of 'rich' peasants in Soviet Russia (this time, by an award-winning contemporary author), the first book to be featured on mychitalka by an Indonesian author, another short story by Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, last year's winner of the Prix Renaudot and a unique French novel by one of France's most decorated female authors.

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