Valentin Rasputin Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Valentin Rasputin has written sparingly outside the short fiction genre. To be sure, some of his stories belong to what is called in Russian literature povest’, and there is a legitimate question whether they are long stories or short novels. They are considered abroad to be both. Because of Rasputin’s strong allegiance to short fiction, they are treated here as short stories.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Valentin Rasputin belongs to the generation of Soviet writers that appeared in the mid-1960’s, after Soviet literature had awakened from the nightmare of Socialist Realism. Along with Vasilit Belov, Fyodor Abramov, and others, Rasputin has written almost exclusively about village life. He has raised the village prose to a higher artistic level. He is also one of few to write about Siberia. Above all, his ability to present seemingly mundane events in a high artistic fashion and to create fine characters has made him a prominent writer in contemporary Russian literature.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Bagby, Lewis. “A Concurrence of Psychological and Narrative Structures: Anamnesis in Valentin Rasputin’s ‘Upstream, Downstream.’” Canadian Slavonic Papers 22 (1980): 388-399. Through the analysis of Borrowed Time, Money for Maria and “Upstream, Downstream,” Bagby discusses Rasputin’s fascination with death, his retrospective themes and anamnestic personality, and his adherence to memory as a constructive principle.

Brown, Deming. “Valentin Rasputin: A General View.” In Russian Literature and Criticism. Berkeley, Calif.: Berkeley Slavic Specialties, 1982. In his general essay, Brown concentrates on the settings and the treatment of nature in Rasputin’s stories.

Gillespie, David C. “Childhood and the Adult World in the Writing of Valentin Rasputin.” The Modern Language Review 80 (1985): 387-395. Gillespie treats Rasputin’s depiction of children and their relationship to the adult world as one of the basic themes in his works.

Gillespie, David C. Valentin Rasputin and Soviet Russian Village Prose. London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 1986. In this relatively brief study, Gillespie focuses on Rasputin’s treatment of rural life and how it relates to Soviet society in general.

Mikkelson, Gerald. “Religious Symbolism in Valentin Rasputin’s Tale Live and Remember.” In Studies in Honor of Xenia Gasiorowska, edited by L. G. Leighton. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1983. An attempt to understand the situations, events, and characters in Live and Remember through the novella’s symbolic structure as a modern-day Christian parable and Nastena as a suffering saint and martyr.

Porter, R. C. Four Contemporary Russian Writers. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Examines the works of Rasputin, Chingiz Aitmatov, Vladimir Voinovich, and Georgii Vladimov.

Polowy, Teresa. The Novellas of Valentin Rasputin: Genre, Language, and Style. New York: Peter Lang, 1989. The most serious treatment of the works of Rasputin. Polowy covers, in a scholarly fashion, his themes, characterization, and the formal aspects, such as plot and structure. The matters of language and style are discussed at length. A select bibliography is appended. An excellent introduction to Rasputin.

Rich, Elizabeth. “Fate?” Soviet Literature, no. 3 (1987): 149-168. Rich examines Rasputin’s treatment of women characters, their attitude toward self-sacrifice, and Rasputin’s views on this moral question.