Chinese Story and Other Tales

Boris Pilnyak, Author, Vera T. Reck, Translator, Michael Green, Translator University of Oklahoma Press $29.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-8061-2134-5
At his best, Pilnyak has an extraordinary power to evoke foreign milieus and times (the 1920s) long gone. The title piece of this collection is to conveys vividly the reality of China 60 years ago. Similarly, the forests, steppes and river valleys of the tales set in Russia are almost palpable. The narrative form of the stories ranges from journalism interlarded with fiction to surrealism, as in ``A Dog's Life,'' in which talking animals set up a commune. All of the tales are suffused with politics, specifically the 1917 Russian revolution and its early aftermath. Born in 1894 and believed to have been executed in 1937 in a wave of Stalinist purges, Pilnyak clearly saw the Revolution as a touchstone of literary imagination, while recognizing that its principles had been hopelessly perverted. It is amazing that these pieces got into print in 1920s Russia, and the world is the richer for italthough they cost the author his life. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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