The critic Herman Ermolaev has observed that Mikhail Sholokhov’s art embraces the epic, the dramatic, the comic, and the lyric; to this one might justly add the tragic, at least in The Silent Don. Helen Muchnic, for example, sees in the character of Grigorii the fatal flaw that marks the heroes of Greek tragedy: Grigorii is doomed by his failure to recognize the greatness of Bolshevism. His error lies in his independence. Like Oedipus, Grigorii cannot not know the truth, but unlike Sophocles’ hero, Sholokhov’s is destined never to know clearly. Even Soviet critics noted the tragic element in The Silent Don, and in 1940, Boris Emelyanov compared The Silent Don to Aeschylus’s The Persians (472 b.c.e.), since both were written from the viewpoint of the vanquished. The Silent Don is of epic proportions because of its length and its scope in time (1912-1922) at a crucial period in Western history, World War I and the Soviet Revolution. It was serialized in Oktyabr’ and Novy mir from 1928 to 1940. Volume 1 was published by Moskovskii Rabochii in 1928, volume 2 in 1929; Khudozhestvennaya Literatura published volumes 3 and 4 in 1933 and 1940 respectively.
The Silent Don
The novel is the story of the fall of a people seen through some of its most representative families: Melekhov, Korshunov, and Koshevoi in particular. Often compared...
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