Comments on Arkhipelag Gulag


If I'd been the translator, I would have kept the Russian title - transliterated, admittedly, but I would have kept it.

I never finished it, but in just the part I read, there were quite a few highly memorable parts - [1] - most memorably his description of being arrested.

-- RobinZimm 2008-08-04 17:42 UTC

aha! --- many tnx for link, Robin ... I was trying to find the name of the translator, and speculated it might be Thomas Whitney, but wasn't sure from my browsing around online --- do you still have the book handy? I should look at that translator's note and see how badly my memory garbled it! (^_^) - ^z

-- Mark Zimmermann 2008-08-04 18:22 UTC

I think I have it - it should be on my little bookshelf in the basement near the fridge. I'll look when I get home. (By the way - can you add a link to Markup Syntax to the comment/edit pages? It would be handy.) - RZ

-- RobinZimm 2008-08-04 18:50 UTC

OK, I'm experimenting with a slightly-modified extension ... ^z

-- MarkZimmermann 2008-08-11 23:43 UTC

"Arkhipelag Gulag" is likely an allusion to Chekhov's "Ostrov Sakhalin," an account of Chekhov's visit to penal colonies on Sakhalin island in 1890ies. ("Ostrov" is a Russian word for island.)

(Hello! This is Philip, Merle's friend! We've met a few times. I've accidentally stumbled across your journal.)

-- PhilipFominykh 2008-08-30 09:50 UTC

Tnx Philip! --- good observation. And BTW, from this Sunday's New York Times book review section, in an essay by Michael Scammell titled "Solzhenitsyn the Stylist", this comment:

... [Solzhenitsyn's] voice reappeared, louder and more raucous than ever, in "The Gulag Archipelago," his three-volume masterpiece about the Soviet labor camp system, published abroad in 1973. Combining historical material with eyewitness testimony and autobiography, Solzhenitsyn turned the ugly bureaucratic acronym GULag into a worldwide synonym for repression, while the wild poetry of the Russian title, "Arkhipelag Gulag," evoked a dead land of slithering reptiles with yawning jaws ready to devour their victims whole.

-- MarkZimmermann 2008-08-30 09:57 UTC

> wish I could learn a little Russian ... wish I could write a little better

The step from wishing for a proficiency to actually moving towards it is a small but profound one: action. I took three years of Russian in High School; it was both fun and much easier than expected. The first hurdle is of course the different alphabet; the second the involved grammar that affects a whole train of words at a time. But one can recognize many words by sounding them out. At the time, Russian was more long-winded than today's more modern usage. Like many langauages, much simplification has occurred, and much influence from English has crept in.

My mother, at 60-something, took out my Russian books one day and began self-study. She did remarkably well in a short time -- I could understand and answer simple questions from her over the phone. (That I remembered myself was a surprise.) Before long, she was enrolled in adult classes and ended up studying several years and going on to other languages, notably Spanish.

So, don't "wish", do!!! (At least something.)

-- Bo Leuf 2008-08-30 15:28 UTC

A person that I used to work for grew up in the Soviet Union, and he conveyed to me once his experience of reading the Gulag Archipelago while he was there. This was during the time when this book was not exactly a welcome piece of literature in the Soviet Union. Apparently he would receive a typed portion of the manuscript from someone. Once he finished this portion of the book, he would pass it on to someone else, before receiving the next section from the same person who had given him the previous section. Apparently this method made it easier to conceal what was going on.

-- Rick 2008-12-20 06:01 UTC