Ilya Ehrenburg Gleb Struve - Essay

Gleb Struve

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Ehrenburg's talent and skill are undeniable, but most of his novels are not good literature; the ease and rapidity with which he produces them inevitably affect their quality: they are a mixture of fiction and journalism, and in some of them the element of journalism predominates. Ehrenburg knows how to handle his plot, how to make it thrilling and attractive, he has wit, his satire is often caustic and pointed, he knows how to make shallow thoughts look deep and significant, but the psychology of his characters is usually crude and made to fit in with preconceived abstract schemes. He loves sharp contrasts and ignores all finer shades. His characters are either paragons of abstract virtues …, or embodiments of all that is worst in human nature, like some of his bourgeois and capitalist scoundrels. Some of his novels are more like political pamphlets in the form of thrillers…. Ehrenburg is one of the few Russian writers who knows his Europe well, albeit superficially (he sees it almost entirely from the comfortable vantage-point of an habitué of the Montparnasse cafés), and can write novels about European life and politics, thus supplying a need, which is badly felt in Soviet Russia, for exotic sensationalism…. Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1932) is a somewhat melodramatic story about the life of the Russian émigrés in Paris. There are no gross distortions in it, but only a small corner of that life is...

(The entire section is 499 words.)