Girls to the Front

Vladimir Kornilov, Author Quartet Books (UK) $0 (120p) ISBN 978-0-7043-2479-4
Kornilov is better known here as a Russian literary dissident than as a writer. This second of his works to appear in English is ill served by an ungainly British translation. Written in 1968, this brief novel was suppressed by the cultural bureaucrats who expelled Kornilov from the Writers' Union. It is set in the outskirts of Moscow in the terrible winter of 1941, when the capital is under siege by the Nazis. The ""girls'' of all ages are ordinary peoplethey are working women and villagers, menials and charwomenrecruited to dig trenches against the expected onslaught. Scarcely the heroic figures of Soviet official doctrine, they are mainly preoccupied with food, sex, peacetime hopes and memories, a hot bath, a warm bed, and survival. Wholly innocent of craft, thoroughly pre-modern in style, the novel's mode is drab, old-fashioned naturalism; unhappily, the characters and situations are insufficient to compensate for its overall bleakness. (February 3)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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