Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Vladimir Petrovich Globov

Vladimir Petrovich Globov (vlah-DIH-mihr peh-TROH-vihch GLOH-bov), a public prosecutor during Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin’s last round of purges. These purges were aimed at Jewish citizens, who were referred to as “rootless cosmopolitans” and “enemies of the people.” A man with a “large spreading trunk” and “hands as heavy as oars,” Globov is an unquestioning follower of the Master’s (Stalin’s) will. He discovers that Dr. S. Y. Rabinovich, a Jewish physician he has prosecuted for alleged activities against the Soviet state, had performed an abortion for Marina, Globov’s wife, who is having an affair with Yury Karlinsky, a public defense attorney. Globov is severely bothered by this deprivation of his embryonic “daughter,” yet he does not protest when his adolescent son, Seryozha, is arrested and sentenced to Siberia for an innocent involvement in political idealism.


Marina, the second wife of Prosecutor Globov. She is an “ideally constructed” woman who spends much of her time trying various cosmetics to stop time’s inexorable erosion of her beauty. She seeks the attention of her husband’s colleagues as a means of assuring herself of her powers of attraction. In a moment of spite, she announces to him that she has had an abortion. Without any real passion, she submits to Karlinsky’s seduction. The arrest of her stepson, Seryozha, does not concern her, although she does later send a box of candy to him in Siberia.

Yury Karlinsky

Yury Karlinsky (kahr-LIHN-skee), a public defense...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The nameless, faceless narrator charged with exalting Prosecutor Globov foreshadows the fate of his creator, Andrei Sinyavsky: Both are authors who are arrested, tried, and sentenced to a labor camp. The differences between them, however, are crucial. The narrator tries to carry out his divinely imposed mission but fails, in part because of his inadvertent awareness of the conflict between ends and means that he sees in his assigned characters. He believes in the end (Communism) but, against his own will, is distressed by the subversion and displacement of that goal by corrupting means (Stalinism). He is not a dissident. Andrei Sinyavsky, on the other hand, by virtue of writing The Trial Begins and smuggling it out for publication in the West, is condemning the Soviet system.

Globov, Marina, and Karlinsky constitute a triangle in more than a romantic sense. Globov is a typical Soviet bureaucrat of peasant background. Superficially cultured, he is devoid of moral insight. He is a true believer, and the Master’s dictates are not to be questioned. Karlinsky is a much more interesting (and despicable) character. Cultivated, urbane, witty, he sees the primitive nature of the Stalinist state and society and finds solace in mockery, seduction, and careerism. Marina is completely absorbed in her own beauty and the amusements and comforts it can bring her. The three represent different responses to the moral abyss of Stalinism.

Seryozha and...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Browning, Deming. Soviet Russian Literature Since Stalin, 1978.

Dalton, Margaret. Andrei Siniavskii and Julii Daniel’: Two Soviet “Heretical” Writers, 1973.

Labedz, Leopold, and Max Hayward, eds. On Trial: The Case of Sinyavsky (Tertz) and Daniel (Arzhak), Documents, 1967.

Lourie, Richard. Letters to the Future: An Approach to Sinyavsky-Tertz, 1975.

Mihajlov, Mihajlo. “Flight from the Test Tube,” in Russian Themes, 1968.