“I Want To Live” – by Shukshin

It is through the simple stories of writers like Vasily Shukshin that we get a glimpse behind the iron curtain into the world of everyday citizens of the Soviet Union. The struggles with poverty, the community frustrations, the attempts to create a life out of the land in a country that suffered no personal ambition — simple boldness like presiding the commune or traveling to the city.

Shukshin, like everybody in the Soviet Union, suffered personal tragedy. His father was murdered by the regime for alleged attempts to oppose collectivization. Shukshin himself was banished, rehabilitated – like so many others – only after Stalin’s death. But rehabilitation to what – that is, to the daily travails of the unfree? These stories are interesting for the total absence of politics – Shukshin had of course learned the hard way not to discuss that which was forbidden. But also because its a reminder that people are people, and the struggles of people behind curtains iron or otherwise are not that different from our own struggles – just infinitely more difficult.

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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2 Responses to “I Want To Live” – by Shukshin

  1. I never read anything by Vasili Shukshin, but definitely I am going to do it now that I read your post. Anyway, my favourite film from former Soviet Union – apart from Tarkovsky’s work – is https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070262/ Shukshin’s marvellous The red snowball tree. I came back to it after so many years and I was deeply touched. It’s one man show, full of human warmth.


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