Short Stories & Miniatures > Short Stories from the 1990s
Short Stories from the 1990s
- "Times of Crisis"
- "The New Generation"
- "Apricot Jam"
- "No Matter What"
- "Fracture Points"
- "Zhelyabuga Village"
- "Adlig Schwenkitten"
After winding up his work on the Red Wheel cycle, Solzhenitsyn turned to shorter forms of literary prose, in the process introducing a new genre that he christened "binary tales" (dvuchastnyi rasskaz). Texts of this type consist of two distinct (always numbered) parts that are related thematically in some manner, all the while exhibiting a significant shift that permits the two parts to be juxtaposed. This shift can be a gap in time, a switch of narrative mode, or even a change of fundamental subject matter.
Eight such stories appeared in Novy Mir between 1993 and 1999, with the two most effective ones having grown out of materials Solzhenitsyn had gathered—but not used—in the originally envisaged part of The Red Wheel. The context, specifically, is the 1920-21 peasant rebellion in the Tambov region—the last significant armed challenge to Bolshevik rule in the wake of 1917.
In 1999 Solzhenitsyn also published "Adlig Schwenkitten" (another place-name), a short-story-sized text, subtitled "A Tale of 24 Hours," which relates the circumstances of a particularly dramatic military engagement involving Solzhenitsyn's unit in late January 1945. Related in twenty-four short chapters roughly corresponding to the time frame, it is the story of a highly unconventional surprise attack on overexposed Soviet positions by German units that seemed to materialize out of the mists of a moonlit winter landscape. Interestingly, the text includes no direct mention of Solzhenitsyn's own role in this episode—the narrative is presented from the point of view of a collective "we"—and the particulars of his personal involvement are known only from a detailed account given in The Little Grain. As Solzhenitsyn writes there, he was due to receive a decoration for having rescued the unit's sound-ranging equipment in the heat of battle, but his arrest for disrespectful comments about Stalin (which occurred only a few days later) cut short this process forever.
-- From The Soul and Barbed Wire, by Edward E. Ericson, Jr. and Alexis Klimoff, ISI, 2008