And recoil from those who were hit with the uard s whip And shout and shout to uell the fear within you Victory marches and songs were that shoutingAt the end of Fear Sasha is surprised to hear that Kaliningrad is declared off limits to all ex Section 58 Political prisoners and he is Elena's Conquest given 24 hours to leave He sets his sights on Ufa in the Urals where his fellow truck driver Gleb hasone with several other politicals to start a ballroom dancing act Great book A continuation of the Rybakov s historical fiction of the Stalin years Characters continue to develop and the story lines stay true If you enjoy Russian history lightened by strong characters and a Sister of My Heart good plot this is a winner Continuing the story of Children of the Arbat Fear is well named Excellent exploration of trying to navigate a constantly shifting political landscape Rybakov did an amazing job of portraying the purges and explaining how the stage was set for a power vacuum as Stalin entered the Second World War Again heoes inside Stalin s mind for some of the story and again it is an icky place to be Every once in a while the story would bog down which is what kept it from being a five star read Not exactly a pick me up but a King Alfred's Version of St. Augustine's Soliloquies great portrayal of how totalitarian power is accumulated and at what cost and how ordinary people are forced into complacency and submission by an extremely repressive political regime Very scary and hopeless and unfortunately true The novel covers just a couple of years during which Stalin arrested and killed millions of people in order to secure his power eliminating any person who could potentially pose a threat to him As the continuation of Children of the Arbat Fear dives right into the heart of the Great Terror in the Soviet Union I didn t however think that it was asood or even had the same sense of urgency as Children of the Arbat I was annoyed at the focus on Stalin as the second main character next to Sasha and I felt that the stories and fates of characters that we spent a lot of time Rescuing Gus getting to know in Children of the Arbatot sidelined as a result and you learn developments about some of them only in passing I will finish the trilogy though at some point Stalins pursuit of a Party cleansing is under way and woe betide those who through bad timing or bad placement Class of 92: Out of Our League get caught arrested tried and either shot or sent to the camps All this at the same time the originalroup of students are Portrait of a Starter: An Unhidden Story growing up into their own Yuri as NKVD Sasha post exile Varya afar Vadim navigating a world of art through state oppression How these stories are weaved through with the peaking paranoia of Stalin is a feat and Rybakov wrote with such vividness that its hard not to see this trilogy come to lifeThe last du I fell for these characters when reading Children of the Arbat and was interested to see what befell them next Rybakov does areat job of creating the sense of justified paranoia and I felt like I better understood the Soviet psyche after reading this book I do wish it had ended less like part of a series thoug. G of that characteristic combination of sadism sentimentality and cynicism that Dostoyevsky described so well and that seems endemic to the perpetrators of revolutionary terror However his overall analysis is vitiated by a larger fault of interpretation that runs through the novel like a signature tune This is the conviction voiced countless times by both historical and fictional characters and repeatedly endorsed by the author that Stalin alone was the fount of all the Soviet Union's political ills and that the idea of the purges and the manner in which they unfolded sprang fully formed from Stalin's headMoreover Stalin is supposed to have planned the terror and been plotting its realization from virtually the moment he became a Bolshevik that is to say from before the Revolution A corollary both implied and stated by Mr Rybakov is that Lenin's intentions and policies were completely different and that the Soviet system he fashioned would never have produced such results had it not been for StalinIf this theory sounds familiar it may be because it essentially repeats AND ENLARGES UPON THE EXPLANATION FOR enlarges upon the explanation for terror offered by Nikita Khrushchev as long ago as 1956 when he ave his famous secret speech on the crimes of Stalin to party leaders It also reflects the views of Mikhail Gorbachev and his chief aides in the period of perestroika when they attempted to build on Khrushchev's reforms and reintroduce a controlled liberalization of Soviet society It is no accident therefore that the Arbat trilogy was one of the first literary fruits of Mr Gorbachev's policies and was strenuously promoted by the Soviet leader's cultural establishment as evidence of radical change Amid the resulting publicity Children of the Arbat sold millions of copies in the Soviet Union and achieved virtual best seller status elsewhereBut the claims of political and literary radicalism for that novel and eually for Fear are deceptive just as Mr Gorbachev's claim to be introducing revolutionary change in the Soviet Union turned out to be exaggerated A uick look at the thaw novels of Ilya Ehrenburg and Vladimir Dudintsev for example written during the same period as Khrushchev's secret speech confirms that Mr Rybakov's esthetics come essentially out of the 50's that is to say they reproduce the strategies of Stalinist socialist realism while modifying the political message wrapped up inside And in this case the message though anti Stalinist is by no means radical or revolutionary and has been far outstripped by actual political developments within the former Soviet UnionMORE important Mr Rybakov's account of and interpretation of the purges has long since been outstripped and superseded by other writers' After the works of Mr Solzhenitsyn whose shadow hangs heavily over this book in terms of both form and content of Varlam Shalamov Nadezhda Mandelstam Eugenia Ginzburg and a host of other memoirists not to mention historians like Robert Conuest or Roy Medvedev Fear of other memoirists not to mention historians like Robert Conuest or Roy Medvedev Fear as an anachronism offering too little and too late Further Mr Rybakov's interpretation of the psychology of the victims represents no advance on Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon written as long ago as 1940Despite the pretensions to Tolstoyan spaciousness and randeur themselves socialist realist in inspiration Fear ably translated by Antonina W Bouis is also utterly pedestrian as a work of literature Mr Rybakov's powers of description are rudimentary and his characters whether fictional or historical are pasted together out of cardboard Neatly divided into ood lovable idealists who have not the slightest doubts about Stalin's villainy and bad those who are either taken in by Stalin or often decide cynically to work for him they are almost all designed to illustrate a simple thesis or to act as vehicles for the author's opinionsBy overreaching himself with a novel five times its natural length Mr Rybakov may succeed temporarily in attracting attention than his work deserves That cannot hide the fact that Fear amounts to little than a Soviet soap opera albeit with sinister overtones and a sensational historical backdrop At best it might provide unsophisticated elements of the Russian reading public with a Reader's Digest version of the Soviet terror in a form they can easily assimilate However with the arrival on Russia's bookstands of work by Robert Ludlum and Stephen King even that is increasingly doubtfulMichael Scammell a professor of Russian literature at Cornell University is writing a biography of Arthur Koestl. Or decades the Arbat trilogy circulated in samizdat format until they finally reached the printers during the rule of Gorbachev There are numerous characters who narrate bits and pieces of the story the two main ones being Sasha Pankratov who has been exiled to a small Siberian village near Taishet for a implied slur on Stalin and Stalin himself Others include Yuri Sharok an interrogator for the NKVD the forerunner of the KGB Vadim and Vika brother and sister the former an informer for the NKVD and the other an escapee from Russia when she marries a French writer and Varya and Nina two sisters one a devoted Stalinist who finds herself liable to arrest for associating with the wrong people and the other a young divorcee who tries to et together with Sasha but is flustered by his being forbidden to visit Moscow because he was a political prisonerMind you Rybakov s novels reui9re a reat deal of attention as typical with fat Russian novels every character has multiple names and nicknames A familiarity with such conventions as Sasha being a nickname for Aleksander and Varya for Varvara will helpThe most frightening part of the books are the chapters seen from Stalin s point of view As Rybakov sketches him he is a frightening paranoid Even a stray look askance from a subordinate sets him off leading to the latter s execution after days of torture Most of these chapters conclude with a butcher s bill summarizing the executions of the former leaders of the Russian Communist Party and the militaryThe purges started with the assassination of Sergey Kirov head of the Leningrad Party in December 1934 This assassination is now thought to have been the work of Stalin who was widely thought to be his best friend but who was actually envious of his popularity That theory is backed up by the mysterious disappearance of virtually the entire Leningrad Party security apparatusOnce he ot started Stalin added other enemies accusing them of being involved in the murder of Kirov and why not kill two birds with one stone tools of the evil Trotsky who by this time had left the country First there were Kamenev and Zinoviev who right after the October Revolution were among the most powerful leaders of the Party Then Bukharin Rykov and scores of others Then just before World War II he decided to purge most of the Moonrise generals and admirals of his armed forces starting with the Civil War hero Tukachevsky At one point at a political denunciation meeting in Kaliningrad Pankratov who managed to leave Siberia as his 3 year term was up and the security organs had not yet tracked his peregrinations has this thoughtThey were all tied to the same rope A country of many millions singing shouting damning invented enemies andlorifying their own executioners The herd was rushing at wild speeds and whoever slowed would be trampled whoever stopped would be crushed You had to keep running and shouting at the top of your lungs because the whip would hit whoever was silent You couldn t stand out in any way You had to trample the fallen ruthlessly. Vileged Moscow youngsters who rew up during the late 20's and early 30's when Stalin was first fashioning his police state The novel's hero was an idealistic young student called Sasha Pankratov who was exiled to Siberia for three years for publishing a feeble political joke in the student newspaper Another important character was Pankratov's former friend Yuri Sharok a scheming and upwardly mobile student of working class originSharok joined the party establishment by enlisting in the secret police the NKVD and making a promising career for himself Along the way he succeeded in seducing and almost killing as the result of an illegal abortion a female friend of Sasha's the virtuous Lena Budyagina daughter of a prominent Soviet diplomat and in entrapping yet another friend Vika Marasevich the frivolous daughter of a famous professor who became a reluctant informer for himThe historical sections the frivolous daughter of a famous professor who became a reluctant informer for himThe historical sections the novel were devoted mainly to the character and activities of Stalin and to his manipulations of the Communist Party hierarchy climaxing in the murder of Sergei Kirov in December 1934 Kirov was then the popular boss of the Leningrad Party Committee and was seen by Stalin as his chief rivalFear takes up the story where Children of the Arbat left off and covers the years 1935 37 In this volume Sasha Pankratov completes his period of exile and returns to the small town of Kalinin just north of Moscow as a former political exile he is banned from living in Moscow itself Pankratov is secretly in love with Varya Ivanova the sister of another former classmate Nina Ivanova who is living in Moscow Varya loves him too but their bashfulness combined with his unexpected discovery that Varya was married before and to a wastrel at that conspires to keep them apartMeanwhile the villain of the piece Yuri Sharok moves center stage as a rising star in the NKVD As Stalin's reat purge athers momentum Sharok becomes an interrogator and is drawn into the bloody work of extracting confessions by torture He hates his job but takes comfort in the thought that he is exacting revenge on the class that had formerly humiliated him and he exults in his status as a leading member of the all powerful security serviceSharok's rise is paralleled by that of another young careerist Vadim Marasevich Vika's brother and a corrupt and self serving literary critic Vadim like Vika in volume one is trapped into becoming an informer by one of Sharok's colleagues and he suffers pangs of conscience for it but Vika seemingly escapes by calculatingly marrying a French newspaper correspondent who takes her back to Paris with him However as Fear draws to a close we see Sharok enlisted into the foreign department of the secret police and closing in on Vika again as part of an assignment to work with emigre spies while Vadim is drawn ever closer into the NKVD's web as and demands are made on himIt is the war chapters of Fear however that are likely to attract attention from the average reader if only because they deal with the ever fascinating and sensational series of purges and show trials Stalin organized and orchestrated from 1934 to 1937 and beyond Mr Rybakov's interest is not so much in the trials themselves as in from 1934 to 1937 and beyond Mr Rybakov's interest is not so much in the trials themselves as in methods of interrogation and torture used by the NKVD to prepare the way for them and in the psychology of both the leaders who were victimized including Grigory Zinoviev Lev Kamenev and Nikolai Bukharin and of their persecutors the secret police chiefs Genrikh Yagoda and Nikolai Yezhov the prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky and party stalwarts like V M Molotov
and Lazar Kaganovich At the center of the entire conspiracy of course stands the enigmatic Lazar Kaganovich At the center of the entire conspiracy of course stands the enigmatic of Stalin whom Mr Rybakov treats as one of his main characters and whom he portrays in considerable detailMr Rybakov's oal is evidently to uncover the roots of the Soviet totalitarian state and to analyze the psychological and political underpinnings of the terror it imposed on its citizens To this end he treats his historical characters just like fictional ones entering into their thoughts and presenting conversations between them as if they had actually taken place In this way he attempts to Alien Alpha get at the motives of the principal actors and offer an explanation for the otherwise inexplicable therotesue accusations of treason by party leaders the abject confessions of the accused to every imaginable crime the implacable thirst for retribution by Stalin and his lieutenantsTO some degree Mr Rybakov is successful especially in his understandin. ,
The Arbat Saga continues and together with reats such as Arthur Koestlers A Darkness At Noon Vassily Grossmans Forever Flowing and the works of Solzhenitsyn the Orwellian terror of the Stalin years in the Soviet Union been captured so accurately The true characters of some of the people who we met in Children of The Arbat are revealed Sasha Pankratov becomes a wiser cynical man who finally realises the nature of the Communist society in Russia Varya Ivanova blooms into a remarkable young women who faithfully waits for Sashas return and through her mistakestrials and tribulations has ained reat strength One of the most touching aspects of the book is the relationship between Varya and Sashas mother Sophia Alexandrovna who Varya is devoted to and who sees Varya as a beloved daughter Together they help each other through these terrible timesYuri Sharok fully integrates himself into the NKVD with all the cunning and cruely which this evil organisation reuiresVadim Marasevitch shows himself up as a spineless flunky who sells innocent people out in order to surviveHowever unlike Sharok his conscience destroys him psychologically in MacBethesue fashionHis sister Vika as opportunistic and immoral as she can be has to be admired for managing to extricate herself from the Soviet tyranny and through an opportune marriage resettling in democratic France where through her husband and an aauaintance with a colourful Russian emigrecelebrity she enjoys the high life she has always yearned forNina Ivanova for all her blind loyalty to the Communist Party falls victims to its brutal machinations and helped by Varya flees to the Far East to escape being another victim of the purgesto her soldier boyfriend Maxim Kostin Rybakov s extensive delving into Stalins mind is a brilliant study of evil Ultimately we learn how tyranny and removal of even the most basic freedoms destroys the lives of so many ordinary people We are forced to realise the terrible horrors we create by letting power be concentrated in the hands of one mangroupcliue or party This book became one of my favourite To be clear I read the English translation Fear which is the second installment in Rybakov s Arbat trilogy It s much darker than the first installment as the early 30s slide into the heart of the purges and uncertainty of the years right before WWII As with the first installment the etting inside of Stalin s hea This is another big ass Russian novel with close to 700 pages and a huge cast of characters spread across a ood chunk of the old Soviet Union from Siberia to Moscow to Kaliningrad It is the second novel of a trilogy the first entitled Children of the Arbat which I read in 2008 not even knowing it was part of a trilogy Seuel or not Fear is so ood that I plan to move on to the third novel Dust and Ashes some time in the coming yearAnataly Rybakov took his chances writing these works during the 1960s and 1970s when Khrushchev and Brezhnev were still not ready to face the collective horror that was Josef Stalin s purges of the 1930s From Publishers WeeklyIn this seuel to his international bestseller Children of the Arbat Rybakov picks up the story of Sasha Pankratov and his friends from Moscow's fashionable Arbat district as Josef Stalin launches the reign of terror that saw millions of Soviet citizens arrested exiled or shot for counterrevolutionary activities Exiled to Siberia in the previous novel for writing satirical verse in a student newspaper and now forbidden to return to Moscow Sasha migrates to a provincial town where he finds work as a driver Back on Arbat Street his friends Varya Nina Yuri Yadim Lena and Vika rapple with the moral dilemma posed by the purges should they remain silent and tacitly acuiesce or participate in hopes of personal ain Rybakov brilliantly segues from this cross section of the Moscow intelligentsia to a chilling interior monologue in which Stalin plots the destruction of high ranking members of his inner circle Rybakov's complex fascinating repellent and utterly convincing psychological portrait of a demagogue ranks among his finest achievements here which also include the fruitful further development of the intriguing personalities established in Children of the Arbat This dynamic sweeping saga of Stalin's children the first truly Soviet eneration captures the fluidity and confusion of the purge years serving as a powerful testament to their legacy of fearCopyright 1992 Reed Business Information IncFrom Library JournalHow could the wholesale murder torture and forced starvation of the Stalin years have been allowed Fear the second novel in a trilogy that began with Children of the Arbat Little Brown 1988 attempts to explain Written over 20 years ago the Arbat Trilogy only recently saw publication in Russian; this is the first English translation Fear tells the story of life under Stalin's dictatorship from the viewpoint of Sasha Pankratov an exiled former student Here Sasha returns from Siberia affording the reader a rare look at life in exile and the traveling conditions in Stalin's Russia Sasha's mother and friends who live in the Arbat section of Moscow form the second strand of the novel The Third Major Character Is major character is himself Each layer of the novel helps to illustrate how deception power and terror can extirpate honor and replace it with madness Highly recommended for all collections of historical fiction Previewed in Prepub Alert LJ 10191 Ruth M Ross Olympic Coll Lib Bremerton WashCopyright 1992 Reed Business Information Inc A Bloody Job but Someone's Got to Do ItBy Michael ScammellPublished September 20 1992FEAR By Anatoly Rybakov Translated by Antonina W Bouis 686 pp Boston Little Brown Company 2495THE example of Tolstoy's War and Peace has done irreparable damage to Russian literature in this century Throughout the 1920's 30's 40's and into the 50's Soviet writers labored mightily and mostly unsuccessfully Mikhail Sholokhov and The uiet Don being a partial exception to emulate the master Even Boris Pasternak who should have known better was seduced into turning out his clumsy Tolstoyan pastiche Doctor Zhivago and for the last two decades the magisterial Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who seems to be suffering from a terminal dose of Tolstoyitis has been toiling over his multivolume epic on war and revolution The Red WheelAnatoly Rybakov is not in the same league as these writers and at first lance his Arbat trilogy of which Children of the Arbat was the first installment and Fear is the second seems not to fit the mold His subject is Soviet society in the mid 30's when the Soviet Union was officially at peace Yet a closer look reveals that his focus is the war that Stalin waged against the Soviet people with his series of purges between 1934 and 1937 which he contrasts with of purges between
1934 and 1937 which he contrasts with peaceful lives of the main characters between episodesand 1937 which he contrasts with peaceful lives of the main characters between episodes that war Mr Rybakov's literary strategy is also Tolstoyan in the debased form to which decades of socialist realism have reduced it in that he alternates scenes of peaceful private life with scenes of warlike political action that involve real historical characters engaged in real historical events and weaves them together through the device of having his fictional characters interact with the historical onesAlthough it is intended to stand alone Fear can easily be understood if one has some knowledge of Children of the Arbat which appeared in English four years ago fortunately the publishers provide a summary for new readers In that novel Mr Rybakov described the trials and tribulations of a Alexandra, Gone group of pri.