Vasily (Pavlovich) Aksenov Katerina Clark - Essay

Katerina Clark

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Ticket to the Stars portrays] a group of swinging young Leningraders set off for a good time in the Baltic resort town of Tallin, which, by the end of the novella, virtually changes its identity: from being a haven for jazz and other forms of Western decadence it becomes simply the nearest town to a fishing sovkhoz in which the hero decides to follow his destiny. This radical switch on the hero's part is paradigmatic, for in the youth novel a change of identity is the basic dynamic. (p. 228)

At the end of most youth novels the mentor dies, usually in some engagement with elemental forces or as the result of some accident. In Ticket to the Stars the mentor figure is actually the hero's real-life older brother, and he dies in an experiment connected with preparations for space travel…. Before his death, the mentor will, in the tradition of the Stalinist novel, either give the hero a "last testament" or hand him a synbolic "baton." Ticket to the Stars closes, for instance, with the young hero's gazing at his late brother's Komsomol membership card, his "ticket to the stars." (p. 230)

Katerina Clark, "The Khrushchev Years," in her The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual (reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press; © 1981 by The University of Chicago), University of Chicago Press, 1981, pp. 210-33.∗