It is notable as one of the few surviving accounts of the Great Purge actually written during the purge era. Sofia Petrovna, a typist in the Soviet Union in is proud of the achievements of her son Nikolai Kolya. Kolya, an engineering student and strong Communist , is at the beginning of a promising career, with his picture featured on the cover of Pravda. Before long, however, the Great Purge begins and Sofia's coworkers begin vanishing, amid accusations of treachery. Soon, Kolya's best friend Alik reports that Kolya has been arrested.
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Sofia Petrovna by Lydia Chukovskaya ,. Aline Werth Translation. Sofia is a Soviet Everywoman, a doctor's widow who works as a typist in a Leningrad publishing house. When her beloved son is caught up in the maelstrom of the purge, she joins the long lines of women outside the prosecutor's office, hoping against hope for any good news. Confronted with a world that makes no moral sense, Sofia goes mad, a madness which manifests itself in delusions little different from the lies those around her tell every day to protect themselves.
Sofia Petrovna offers a rare and vital record of Stalin's Great Purges. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 8th by Northwestern University Press first published More Details Original Title.
Sofia Petrovna. Leningrad, USSR. National Book Award Finalist for Translation Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Sofia Petrovna , please sign up.
Is THis a clean book? Lobstergirl Mine was fairly clean. See 1 question about Sofia Petrovna…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.
Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Sofia Petrovna. Jun 30, Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it Shelves: russian-authors. The story essentially a page novella takes place in Leningrad in A widow who works for a publishing house heads up a typing pool and has a college-age son.
Her son is her pride and joy, an engineer who even has his picture in Pravda for an invention. Bu this is the era of paranoia, renunciations and recriminations known as the Great Purge under the Soviet leader, Stalin. Suddenly her life turns upside down. Her son is falsely accused of anti-Soviet activities.
He is imprisoned and The story essentially a page novella takes place in Leningrad in He is imprisoned and apparently sent to Siberia. She waits in lines for hours each day trying to get a letter or food or money to him — nothing.
Once word gets out that her son is in prison, she loses her job and even her neighbors turn against her, falsely accusing her of stealing communal food and fuel because they want her apartment.
From waiting hours each day in different offices in crowds on steps her legs turn to stumps and she has to live with a cane. Now she is totally alone. She receives one letter smuggled from her son almost two years after he was arrested. She learns that he was beaten so severely that he is now deaf in one ear. She does not know how to react to this. She is paralyzed about what she can or should do. Wow a terrible but fascinating story.
Top photo Leningrad in the 's from blogspot. View all 6 comments. Having just finished one of Tolstoy's masterpieces that looks ahead to Russia's future, I selected a novella set in that details the purge of enemies of the party. Born in , Lydia Chukovskaya became a well known author and wrote books of poetry for children.
Today, however, she is best known for her The Deserted House, a novella describing the great purge. Hidden for 25 years, the book has yet to be published in Russia, and in was published in New York. Through translator Aline Wer Having just finished one of Tolstoy's masterpieces that looks ahead to Russia's future, I selected a novella set in that details the purge of enemies of the party.
Through translator Aline Werth, Chukovskaya's words were brought to light in the west. Olga Petrovna Lipatova was a loyal party member and worked at a steady job in a publishing house to support her only son Nikolai Fydorovich "Kolya.
Despite inventing a new mechanism and heading his class, Kolya is arrested almost immediately upon arrival, setting his mother Olga Petrovna into panic. Rather than acting as a loyal party member, Olga Petrovna believes that her primary role is to petition to have her son freed from prison. Still loyal to Stalin and the party, Olga Petrovna lives a life in constant fear at both work and home. Acquaintances look at her as a relative to a deportee and would rather not associate with her.
Even though she is a proud communist and takes an active role at party meetings, Olga Petrovna can no longer trust anyone. She stops speaking to her colleagues and to the other people in her apartment building. Rather she becomes paranoid that she will be arrested next, lives in isolation, and devotes herself to getting her son freed. Written in third person, Chukovskaya has her readers on edge in anticipation of what will happen next for Olga Petrovna.
Using short sentences, we move from one day to the next, hoping that Petrovna has lived to see another day. Although fictional, this novella describes the time of the purges in detail when all Russians lived in fear, not knowing who they could trust, who was a friend or enemy, and who would be deported.
Even though a translation, Aline Werth does a masterful job in creating this feeling of fear and hopelessness, that big brother is always watching. In my quest to read women authored books from around the globe, I came upon the works of Lydia Chukovskaya. Russia is not known for its female authors, yet Chukovskaya managed to leave the west the only detailed account of the great purges written during the same years. Even though A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is better known, A Deserted House puts the reader right in the middle of the purges, in a feeling of constant fear and vigilance.
Unfortunately most of Chukovskaya's work is not available in English or never published. A Deserted House was a necessary read, for which I rate 4 stars.
View all 3 comments. Jun 13, Steven Godin rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , russia-ukraine. Lydia Chukovskaya's powerful short novel on the Stalin purges I found equally as fascinating as say Solzhenitsyn's A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, but the big difference here is Sofia Petrovna takes place not in some far away labour camp but right in the heart of Leningrad.
Chukovskaya writes not only about the tragedy of a family, but also that of a whole people caught up in the terror. Sofia Petrovna the central character is widowed with a son, Kolya, a good student, who she is very prou Lydia Chukovskaya's powerful short novel on the Stalin purges I found equally as fascinating as say Solzhenitsyn's A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, but the big difference here is Sofia Petrovna takes place not in some far away labour camp but right in the heart of Leningrad.
Sofia Petrovna the central character is widowed with a son, Kolya, a good student, who she is very proud of, and after taking a job in a Leningrad publishing house, she flourishes well and soon becomes head typist.
Sofia Petrovna lives a simple life without bother, is happy in her work, and has bought into the Soviet system and accepts the changes that go with it, but her comfortable world is shattered after she learns that a large number of physicians in the city have been arrested, with one who was close to her husband. As the arrests continue they start getting closer to home: first the director of the publishing house, then, with devastation and great dread, Kolya.
As he like so many others has a clear support for the regime, Sofia Petrovna is convinced that nothing bad can happen to an honest man, believing it's a simple mistake, and she puts her heart and soul into trying to clear his name, and things go from bad to worse after she learns he is to be sent off to a camp of unknown whereabouts. Kolya is an exemplary Soviet youth, and is innocent, but that of course doesn't matter. Showing the Soviet madness from the perspective of a loving mother who has always been supportive of the regime is left just as baffled as the reader, as we are largely kept ignorant of what is truly happening behind the scenes.
Sofia Petrovna, seeing her son and so many others sentenced, suffers with great worry, and is in despair as the purging continues, but lucky in the fact that she is not found to be guilty by association. When she does finally get word from her son, that only offers a small amount of relief, as her world has now become so insecure and unpredictable, where no one can be trusted that the concept of any hope or justice has become entirely lost.
This is a work that is as sad as it is shocking and all too real, and even though the outline is bleak, Chukovskaya's chilling details are totally absorbing throughout, especially as Sofia comes only slowly to understand the true nature and magnitude of Stalin's purges. It's a written in a simple and straightforward fashion, that effectively portrays a poisoned system where there is nowhere and nobody to turn to for help, as essentially, everybody is crushed and powerless.
Chukovskaya: Sofia Petrovna
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