Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 189

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The major context of this novel is the disenchantment of Soviet intellectuals with the Revolution. A major factor in this process was the Prague Winter, which followed the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops in 1968, replacing “socialism with a human face” with an approach more acceptable to the Kremlin. The Island of Crimea provides a close parallel to the events of 1968.

Aksyonov is one of a group of Soviet writers who question whether the Soviet Union will be able to rid itself of the specter of Stalin and the police state he created. Aksyonov was forced to emigrate to the West in 1980, after Ozhog (1980; The Burn, 1984) was published in Italy. His political stance stems from the time he spent in internal exile with his mother, Evgenia Ginzburg, the author of Krutoi marshrut (1967, 1979, two volumes; Journey into the Whirlwind, 1967; also as Within the Whirlwind, 1981).

The Island of Crimea is one of Aksyonov’s mature works, leaving behind the identification with Soviet youth that he showed in such works as Kollegi (1960; Colleagues, 1962). The Island of Crimea portrays the stagnant, repressive state of the Soviet Union during the years under Leonid Brezhnev.