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Review quote Described by scholars as ranking alongside his best work. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter. Sign up now. Follow us. Having set aside his historical epic, Solzhenitsyn was free to return to short stories, and all of those in Apricot Jam were written and published between , his last winter in Vermont, and , his 80th year.

They are the works of a writer with few equals for his industry, capacious memory and the passion of his convictions from the Leninist ardour of his adolescence to the anti-Soviet patriotism of later years. Within them resonate not only the repatriated writer's fear for and repulsion at the new Russia, but many echoes of a life which spanned wartime service in the artillery, eight years as an inmate of the Gulag Archipelago , prolonged treatment for "terminal" cancer, and years of seditious underground writing, culminating in an unprecedented running battle with the Soviet authorities, a botched KGB attempt to assassinate him by ricin poisoning, and in the arrest which preceded his forcible expatriation to the west.

Reaching their English reader on average some 15 years after first publication, these stories demonstrate the bipartite structure with which Solzhenitsyn experimented late in life. In "Zhelyabuga Village" military and civilian participants caught up in the fear and exhilaration of a day's fighting in meet half a century later at the same spot, as deprived and moribund in Yeltsin's time as ever it had been under Stalin.

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In "Times of Crisis", the dramatic biography of the young Marshal Zhukhov is set against his own reflections as he labours to complete his memoirs. In the first part of "Ego", an obvious spinoff from Solzhenitsyn's work on The Red Wheel , Ektov becomes a leading figure in the Tambov peasant uprising against Soviet power in the 20s, but in the second, his love of family makes him a traitor and instrument in the bloody suppression of his own cause. Compromise, despair and betrayal are recurring themes in these stories, and the twofold form risks encouraging obvious polemical contrasts.

The final story, "No Matter What", for instance, takes a wartime episode from originally drafted in the 50s and pairs it with a tale of self-serving officials participating in the despoliation of the Siberian River Angara after the collapse of the Soviet Union while cynically hoodwinking its bluff, disenfranchised inhabitants. For 60 years Solzhenitsyn the writer had struggled to channel his own impatience and moral indignation, deliberately limiting his narrative perspective, favouring confined spaces and time-spans where victories are at best hard-won. The range of the stories is very impressive, as always, covering a realistic view of those who lived under socialism, in contrast to the turgid propaganda of the time that is 'socialist realism' in name only.

Even in his 80s, he still recalls some passionate and vivid scenes. My favorite of these is Adlig Schwenkitten, a hour look at a Red Army detachment in East Prussia, almost certainly based on his own experiences.

Apricot Jam and Other Stories by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - review

He is a bit moralizing for some, and his style is offputting, but those who enjoy Solzhenitsyn before, will admire the sheer energy with which he writes. Aug 23, Dwight added it. So how do I feel about the overall collection of stories? The strongest work in these pieces focus on life under communism.

It seems he was still working on how to evaluate and express his feelings on the changes in Russia, those for the good as well as for the bad. While there are no consistent themes across all the stories the feeling that a bad decision…such as missing an offered chance…lies at the heart of many unhappy or unfulfilled situations whether it be with individuals, groups, or the country.

I recall seeing some announcements of this book saying this collection of stories would be a good introduction to Solzhenitsyn. I have no hesitation in recommending the first four stories of this collection to the general reader looking for a sample of Solzhenitsyn general style. The remaining stories gave me various levels of enjoyment but I realize not everyone has the same interest in the writer as I do. Solzhenitsyn has some characters in the s express hope for the change in the direction the country was taking, hopes we know, without having to read further, will be dashed.

Fewer characters in stories set in the s express similar hopes as a result of recent changes. Their path still unfolds, but Solzhenitsyn didn't seem to think the results will be much different. He begs the writer for a food parcel while recalling the apricot tree in the orchard and the jam his mother made from the crop. Part two focuses on the famous writer in his posh dacha as he entertains a couple of guests, one a department head at the state publishing house.

The world is waiting for examples, for architectonics from our literature.

Simple and Delicious Apricot Jam

The writer swoons over the language in the letter but ignores the writer's plea. The symbolism of the apricot jam at the dacha reinforces the disconnect between the writer and his claims. Physical threats are effective for some, not for others, but threats to family prove very effective in both of these stories. The first Nastenka has a rough life as she tries to eke out an existence as a librarian.


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Raped often by the men in her life, she takes control of her sexuality and uses it to become the mistress of a war hero with access to material comfort she didn't know was possible. The second Nastenka trains to be a literature teacher. While she guards her sexuality, she witnesses the rape of literature in the name of the common cause. Never quite sure what texts are approved or not, this Nastenka feels gratified when the students respond in an inspired fashion to propaganda.

Aug 23, Shane rated it liked it. Solzhenitsyn returns to his familiar place and time, the Soviet Union between two world wars. In the title story, a young kulak a landholding class who has been rendered destitute by the Reds, writes to a celebrated Solzhenitsyn returns to his familiar place and time, the Soviet Union between two world wars.

Apricot Jam and Other Stories

In the title story, a young kulak a landholding class who has been rendered destitute by the Reds, writes to a celebrated Soviet writer asking for help and intercession; the writer, who lives in an affluent dacha, responds by remarking to his political buddies on how the language of this kulak mirrors the intensity of the times, he sees art in the situation and not the plight of the poor kulak. They are episodic stories involving military manoeuvres, technology and politics. Stalin, who in real life had Solzhenitsyn committed to eight years of hard labour, is portrayed as a vacillating hypochondriac.

Joining the party was very compelling in those days, for it determined what job you got. And forget about education and landholding — they did not amount to much. Toe the party line, and you would be okay! Seems to happen in Wall St. Towards the end of his days, Solzhenitsyn was criticized for being a man out of touch with the times, for being stuck in the time warp between the wars that had moulded his character. And yet, despite the narrative-heavy nature of these stories, and the inconsistencies in craft blame it on translation! Nov 02, Sooz rated it really liked it.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of my favourite books, but until now it was the only one of Solzhenitsyn's books i'd read. View 2 comments. Oct 18, Shelf Magazine added it.

Apricot Jam and Other Stories by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Stephan Solzhenitsyn | Waterstones

In his novels such as the Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksarndr Solzhenitsyn recounted and renounced Soviet oppression, earning him imprisonment, exile, a Nobel Prize and an acknowledged role in the defeat of communism. Some of his final published works are available for the first time in Apricot Jam and Other Stories.

Either wrong time to read this particular book or something about the prose just kept losing me and i had to force myself back in. Apricot Jam is easily my favourite, the rest had really good moments but couldn't keep me hooked long enough. I found this new collection of short stories in my local Kyiv bookstore and was intrigued.

What little gems had Solzhenitsyn penned between his return Russia in and his death in ? What had they found in his papers, who had collected and translated them? Mostly written in his late binary style, the stories in Apricot Jam present a series of striking portraits of Soviet and Russian life across the twentieth century. They span the period from, and the binary device allows Solzhenitsyn to j I found this new collection of short stories in my local Kyiv bookstore and was intrigued.

They span the period from, and the binary device allows Solzhenitsyn to jump decades to see what has become of his characters from the earlier tale. As usual, the upheavals that destroyed so many lives in the Soviet Union throughout the century are the main theme. From my vantage point in Kyiv in the 21st Century, the tale of Ego was perhaps touching; a tale set in the Tambov rebellion of the early 's which was surely a precursor to the destruction of the Kulaks in Ukraine a few years later.

And the two stories set in the Great Patriotic War: Aldig Schwenkitten and Zhelabuga village, who share the same characters; all are vignettes of the larger tale that has yet to be told. If anyone has never read any Solzhenitsyn, I guess the starting point should still be One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, as the impact of this story can never be underestimated.

In the end Solzhenitsyn outlived the monstrous regime that tried to destroy him. A pity not many modern Russians or other ex-Soviet citizens have read his works, but I can understand why they do not want to start. They have new lives to lead, and sometimes it is better to forget what cannot be changed and move on.

But in the corner, just in case we forget, we should keep a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to remind us of the past View 1 comment. Apr 01, Jim rated it liked it. Written in the years between Solzhenitsyn's return from exile to Russia in , and his death in this new collection of stories from the Nobel Prize-winning author is available for the first time in English.

Mostly written in his late binary style, the stories in Apricot Jam present a series of striking portraits of a Soviet and Russian life across the twentieth century.


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Through their unforgettable cast of military commanders, imprisoned activists and displaced families, these stories play Written in the years between Solzhenitsyn's return from exile to Russia in , and his death in this new collection of stories from the Nobel Prize-winning author is available for the first time in English. Through their unforgettable cast of military commanders, imprisoned activists and displaced families, these stories play out the moral dilemmas and ideological conflicts that defined the century.

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You can read my full review on my blog here. May 13, Cat. I mostly snagged this so I can say I have read Solzhenitsyn, even if it's not one of his famous publications. These stories are good snapshots of a certain time and place pre, post-Revolutionary Soviet Union and while they differ in major details, they are similar in tone.

The tone is dismal, somewhat cynical, and angry at the corruption of the country that continued after the fall and murder of the Tsar. Nothing changed, except that different people were running things, and poor people I mostly snagged this so I can say I have read Solzhenitsyn, even if it's not one of his famous publications. Nothing changed, except that different people were running things, and poor people still starved. I didn't finish all the stories. I got through two that were more-or-less centered on the Eastern Front during World War II, and just couldn't swallow anymore.

I wouldn't have made it that far if I didn't know some history of the era, though. The most memorable one for was a very depressing story about a young idealistic college graduate trying to teach Russian literature to children; every year the curriculum changes, the ideology changes, the list of "allowed" authors changes Jul 17, Ralf rated it it was ok.

Grueling descriptions of life in the early time of the Soviet Union, but not really interesting as literature. Maybe deliberately so: the title story maybe the best thematizes the problems of aesthetization of language in view of actual terror. Still, I think, this does not work as literature. Solzhenitsyn uses what he apparently calls a binary style, which mainly means: all stories have two parts that are sometimes more, sometimes less obviously connected.

Maybe that is part of the problem: the world is not just binary. Jun 22, Michael Canoeist rated it did not like it Shelves: abandoned , russian. I was not sufficiently patient to work with the slow narration and ponderous pacing of the first story in this collection. So it may have been merely my own condition, or it may have been that Solzhenitsyn can and does write tediously.


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  5. When I couldn't sustain enough interest to finish the first story -- I initially wrote "sentence," there, which may more accurately reflect my feelings about this book -- I paid my overdue fine and left it behind in the library where the torpid activity suggests i I was not sufficiently patient to work with the slow narration and ponderous pacing of the first story in this collection. When I couldn't sustain enough interest to finish the first story -- I initially wrote "sentence," there, which may more accurately reflect my feelings about this book -- I paid my overdue fine and left it behind in the library where the torpid activity suggests it may take months or years for another reader even to notice it.

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