Study Guide

Mikhail Sholokhov

Mikhail Sholokhov Analysis

Other literary forms (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

ph_0111207115-Sholokhov.jpgMikhail Sholokhov Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Mikhail Sholokhov (SHAWL-eh-kawf) published collections of short stories, Donskiye rasskazy and Lazorevaya Step, in 1926. In 1931, Lazorevaya Step was expanded to include Donskiye rasskazy and was translated in 1961 as Tales from the Don. His short stories form volume 1 of his complete works, Sobranie sochinenii (1956-1960; Collected Works in Eight Volumes, 1984), which were first published in Moscow in eight volumes; war stories and essays form volume 8. They also are available in English as One Man’s Destiny, and Other Stories, Articles, and Sketches, 1923-1963 (1967) and At the Bidding of the Heart: Essays, Sketches, Speeches, Papers (1973).

Mikhail Sholokhov Achievements (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Mikhail Sholokhov occupies a unique place in Soviet literature as the author of The Silent Don, the greatest novel to be published in the Soviet Union. He has been compared to Leo Tolstoy in his creation of a national epic, to Fyodor Dostoevski in his portrayal of Grigorii Melekhov, and to Nikolai Gogol and Anton Chekhov in his evocations of the steppe. In 1965, he was permitted by Soviet authorities to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, a privilege denied to Boris Pasternak, who wrote a more profoundly philosophical novel. In addition, Sholokhov held numerous positions of honor in the Communist Party and the Union of Soviet Writers. He won the Stalin and Lenin prizes for literature (1941, 1960) and received honorary degrees from Western and Soviet universities.

In his two major works, The Silent Don and Virgin Soil Upturned, Sholokhov succeeds in bringing to life the Cossack world that he knew so well. Shrouded in legends, scorned for their barbarity, the Cossacks were little known to the Russians and totally unknown to Western readers. Sholokhov speaks in their dialect, clothes his characters in colorful Cossack traditions, and arms the soldiers with a spirit of courage and adventure. Part 1 of The Silent Don in particular and much of Virgin Soil Upturned shows them in their daily occupations, their celebrations and their interaction, much in their colorful and often crude language. Through his fictitious characters, all modeled on his own friends and acquaintances, the image of a people emerges.

Particularly in The Silent Don, Sholokhov skillfully combined Socialist...

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Mikhail Sholokhov Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Ermolaev, Herman. Mikhail Sholokhov and His Art. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982. A study of Sholokhov’s life and art, philosophy of life, and handling of style and structure, with a separate chapter on the historical sources of The Quiet Don and another on the question of plagiarism. Includes maps, tables (of similes), notes, and bibliography.

Klimenko, Michael. The World of Young Sholokhov: Vision of Violence. North Quincy, Mass.: Christopher Publishing House, 1972. The introduction discusses the Sholokhov canon as well as the man and his critics. Other chapters explore the genesis of his novels, his vision of life, his heroes, and his treatment of revolution. Includes a bibliography.

Medvedev, Roy. Problems in the Literary Biography of Mikhail Sholokhov. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1977. A piercing examining of The Quiet Don, exploring the issue of Sholokhov’s authorship and how it poses problems for his literary biography.

Muherjee, G. Mikhail Sholokhov: A Critical Introduction. New Delhi: Northern Book Center, 1992. A useful discussion of Sholokhov’s work and critical reactions to it.

Murphy, A. B., V. P. Butt, and H. Ermolaev. Sholokhov’s “Tikhii Don”: A Commentary in Two Volumes. Birmingham, England: Department of Russian Language and Literature, the University of Birmingham, 1997. An excellent study of The Silent Don.

Stewart, David Hugh. Mikhail Sholokov: A Critical Introduction. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967. Found in most university libraries, this accessible, 250-page overview of the man and his works includes bibliographical references.