Short Stories & Miniatures

solzhenitsyn-short-stories-miniatures

When Solzhenitsyn began writing at the tender age of nine, he started with stories.  By his teen-aged years, he was producing short fiction, drama, and poetry and was planning long fiction.  From his apprenticeship on, his dedication to literary art manifests itself in versatility and experimentation.  As he was settling into his adult writing career in the late 1940s and early 1950s, short stories were part of his varied output.  And short stories were among the genres to which he returned after he moved back to Russia in the 1990s.  In the late stories he experimented with a new format that he called the “binary tale”:  Two moments widely separated in time are narrated in distinct parts, then are tied together by a common thematic thread.

Although Solzhenitsyn’s literary reputation rests largely on his long works of fiction and nonfiction, his short fiction meets high standards as well, from the celebrated One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to the acclaimed “Matryona’s Home” to many shorter stories.  Concise form and a delicate touch are part of his repertoire.  Only the formal dictates of genre distinguish the stories from his other writings.  All of the works participate in a single moral vision and draw upon a common fund of raw materials.  For example, two of the late stories expand upon notes left over from The Red Wheel, and two others are based on the author’s wartime experiences.

-- by Edward Ericson and Daniel J. Mahoney, The Solzhenitsyn Reader, ISI, 2006

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962)
The story of a common man’s day in labor camp. It broke through the ice of government censorship during Khrushchev’s thaw in 1962 and made Solzhenitsyn known all over the USSR and the world.

"Matryona's Home" (1959)
The eternal portrait of the righteous person whom everyone needs and no one appreciates.

Short Stories from the 1960s
Including "The Right Hand", "Incident at Kochetovka Station", "For the Good of the Cause", "Zakhar-the-Pouch", "What a Pity", and "Easter Procession"

Short Stories from the 1990s
Including "Ego", "Times of Crisis", "The New Generation", "Nastenka", "Apricot Jam", "No Matter What", "Fracture Points", "Zhelyabuga Village", and "Adlig Schwenkitten".

Miniatures (Prose Poems)
Written over two distinct periods: 1958-63 and 1996-99


Additional Resources

▹ Download a PDF of all of Solzhenitsyn’s short stories, as well as miniatures, in Russian on the official Russian-language site of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

▹ Three short stories and all miniatures are available in The Solzhenitsyn Reader