Warped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the Land of the Unburied (Cultural Memory in the Present)

Warped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the Land of the Unburied (Cultural Memory in the Present)

Alexander Etkind

Language: English

Pages: 328

ISBN: 0804773939

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

After Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet Union dismantled the enormous system of terror and torture that he had created. But there has never been any Russian ban on former party functionaries, nor any external authority to dispense justice. Memorials to the Soviet victims are inadequate, and their families have received no significant compensation. This book's premise is that late Soviet and post-Soviet culture, haunted by its past, has produced a unique set of memorial practices. More than twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia remains "the land of the unburied": the events of the mid-twentieth century are still very much alive, and still contentious. Alexander Etkind shows how post-Soviet Russia has turned the painful process of mastering the past into an important part of its political present.
















Some imagined these visits for their readers. A Voice from the Chorus If in Moscow Siniavsky spoke as a soloist, in the camp he was part of the chorus. The camp was the place for the chorus of the Soviet tragedy, and Siniavsky liked being there. He saw “an impassable boundary” between the camp and the home. Crossing this border in both directions is traumatic, but he tended to downplay the trauma of imprisonment and emphasize the trauma of liberation. 17 Paradoxically, Siniavsky depicted his arrest and long term in the camp as predictable events, a sort of destiny, while his release from the camp features as an unexpected and troubling event, a point of rupture.

56 In his Siberian servitude, Dostoevsky experienced the same “passage through death. ”57 Life in the camp was worse than death for two reasons, writes Siniavsky. The first reason was the victim’s pain, the second was survivor’s guilt: “in the condition of Kolyma, every life was egotism, a sin, the murder of one’s neighbor. ”58 People create art, wrote Siniavsky from the camp, “for the sake of overcoming death, but also in rapt anticipation of death” (1:64). Art is “just a histrionic one-man-show in the face of death” (2:377).

After a short trip, Etkind was thrown out of the speeding car onto the pavement in front of his home. He waited for his family, not knowing if they themselves had been arrested, until he saw Yefim and realized that his son did not recognize him. The next morning, Grigory went to the barber and asked for the “full renovation” (polnyi remont). But the psychological damage was irreversible; Yefim wrote that his father never returned to his former self. 3 A sophisticated scholar and effective memoirist, Yefim Etkind knew how to begin his story so that a feeling of horror would haunt his readers.

Oil on linen 70 x 50 cm (27 9/16 x 9 11/16 in. ). Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. 2003. 0762 / 21677. Photo by Jack Abraham. On Tortured Life and World Culture    security, wrote a new kind of poetry, which he called “barracks poetry. ” He started to write these verses “standing on the camp tower,” as a friend of his would put it decades later. Then the camp vanished, but Kholin stayed on in the village, worked as a waiter, and wrote: Isn’t it amazing, This human ability To cry And appeal for pity In such a strange way?

Daniel’s novella includes damning portraits of Thaw-era bohemians, of their empty talk, and the unlimited compromises they are prepared to make in order to accommodate the regime. Tolia uses or even invents a symbol capturing this combination of imaginary freedom and actual conformism characteristic of the Thaw-era intelligentsia: “figa v karmane,” an obscene finger gesture performed inside the pocket, a stronger Russian version of “tongue in cheek. ” The solidarity of the post-Stalin generation does not facilitate but rather obstructs collective action.

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