Return from the Archipelago: Narratives Of Gulag Survivors

Hardcover | December 22, 2000

byLeona Toker

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"This is a ground-breaking book on a subject of capital importance, and I think [it] should start a debate about modern literature with a rich potential for further development." -Michael Scammell

Return from the Archipelago is the first comprehensive historical survey and critical analysis of the vast body of narrative literature about the Soviet gulag. Leona Toker organizes and characterizes both fictional narratives and survivors' memoirs as she explores the changing hallmarks of the genre from the 1920s through the Gorbachev era. Toker reflects on the writings and testimonies that shed light on the veiled aspects of totalitarianism, dehumanization, and atrocity. Identifying key themes that recur in the narratives-arrest, the stages of trial, imprisonment, labor camps, exile, escapes, special punishment, the role of chance, and deprivation.Toker discusses the historical, political, and social contexts of these accounts and the ethical and aesthetic imperative they fulfill. Her readings provide extraordinary insight into the prisoners' experiences of the Soviet penal system. Special attention is devoted to the writings of Varlam Shalamov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, but many works that are not well known in the West, especially those by women, are addressed. Consideration is also given to events that recently brought many memoirs to light years after they were written. A pioneering book on an important subject, Return from the Archipelago is an authoritative resource for scholars in Russian history and literature.

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"This is a ground-breaking book on a subject of capital importance, and I think [it] should start a debate about modern literature with a rich potential for further development." -Michael ScammellReturn from the Archipelago is the first comprehensive historical survey and critical analysis of the vast body of narrative literature about...

Leona Toker is Professor of English at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her previous works include Nabokov: The Mystery of Literary Structures and Eloquent Reticence: Withholding Information in Fictional Narrative.

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CD-ROM|Mar 8 2010

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.81 inPublished:December 22, 2000Publisher:Indiana University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0253337879

ISBN - 13:9780253337870

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments
A Note on Sources
Introduction
1. Soviet Labor Camps: A Brief History
2. The Literary Corpus: Memoirs
3. Camp Memoirs as a Genre
4. The Gulag Archipelago
5. From Factography to Fictionalization
6. Varlam Shalamov
7. The Gulag Fiction of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
8. In the Wake of Testimony
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Toker (Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem) provides a far-ranging and penetrating study of Russian camp literature. Traditionally read chiefly for its horrifying content, this literature has received little attention for its aesthetic qualities. Toker concedes the priority of the moral aspect but places her topic in wider contexts. She first provides a historical sketch of the archipelago, as Solzhenitsyn, its most famous survivor, described the vast camp system stretching across the Soviet Union. Although the author examines many accounts, those of Solzhenitsyn are at the book's core: these and Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov's story cycles provide the basis for such meta-literary issues as the interrelations of factography, history, memoir, and fiction; the structure of camp writings (from arrest through release); and the relation to Russian literary tradition. Many classics of the genre (by Evgenia Ginzburg, the Pole Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski, the American Alexander Dolgun) serve as sources in formulating a composite model. Also addressed are writers who may or may not have served camp time but whose fictions take place in their shadow, e.g., Iurii Dombrovskii, Georgi Vladimov, A. Siniavskii, Sergi Dovlatov. Toker provides an excellent survey of a genre and a judicious consideration of the many issues it raises. Russian and English bibliography. Upper-division undergraduates and above; general readers." -D. B. Johnson, emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara, Choice, July 2001