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Циники (or The Cynics) by Anatoly Mariengoff Tom Send a noteboard - 30/08/2009 09:38:16 PM
The Cynics by Anatoly Mariengoff
Given that the Literature MB was merged into this board, I'm going to take the opportunity to post about a work of fiction that has nothing to do with Science Fiction or Fantasy. It's a book that many people have never heard of by an author that few people have heard of, and those who have heard of him probably know him due to his friendship/rivalry/hatred with Sergei Esenin, the famous Russian poet.

Yet here I am, writing a post about Anatoly Mariengoff's ?????? (or The Cynics). It is a short novel that is written in short, half-page to two-page chapters, with some "chapters" only one to two lines. It intersperses the story of a husband and wife trying to survive through the Russian Revolution with short "informational" chapters that read like radio announcements or news headlines about the misplaced priorities of the Bolsheviks. Statues are going up to a long list of "revolutionaries" and cultural figures while people starve. Questions about doctrine are being argued while it is unclear if the regime will hold out against its enemies in the civil war being fought across Russia.

The book was published by a pro-Soviet publishing house in Berlin in 1928 but it was banned in the Soviet Union (this is all part of a twisted policy on the part of the Cultural Minister, Lunacharsky, to at once ban dangerous literature while showing the world that the Soviet Union cultivated "dissent" by supporting the printing of the same banned works abroad).

It raises questions about the nature of love and faithfulness and pits identity and integrity against survival. The book seems to be just scratching the surface, but by leaving so much unsaid, it leaves a deep impression. The reader is left with the same impressions, the same unspoken thoughts, the same wrenching feeling of pain, that the characters seem to be feeling. Due to the situation, it's clear why no one is having the conversations we would expect them to be having about what is happening in their lives and to their relationship with one another.

It's a short novel and a fast read, but I recommend it because it's the sort of book where you can keep looking back at it and re-asking questions about human nature, about ideologies, about relationships and about whether or not we need to over-analyze things.
Political correctness is the pettiest form of casuistry.

ἡ δὲ κἀκ τριῶν τρυπημάτων ἐργαζομένη ἐνεκάλει τῇ φύσει, δυσφορουμένη, ὅτι δὴ μὴ καὶ τοὺς τιτθοὺς αὐτῇ εὐρύτερον ἢ νῦν εἰσι τρυπώη, ὅπως καὶ ἄλλην ἐνταῦθα μίξιν ἐπιτεχνᾶσθαι δυνατὴ εἴη. – Procopius

Ummaka qinnassa nīk!

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This message last edited by Rebekah on 31/08/2009 at 12:58:52 PM
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Циники (or The Cynics) by Anatoly Mariengoff - 30/08/2009 09:38:16 PM 3635 Views
Interesting - 30/08/2009 09:58:26 PM 759 Views
No. I haven't read any Serbian authors. - 30/08/2009 11:36:24 PM 747 Views
I think you might enjoy his work - 30/08/2009 11:42:27 PM 698 Views
Is there a good translation of this that you know of? *NM* - 19/01/2011 01:12:21 PM 334 Views
Wow...I didn't expect this to come up in recent discussions. - 25/01/2011 07:56:34 PM 515 Views
I like going over old posts. - 25/01/2011 08:03:21 PM 572 Views

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