Yuri Kazakov Criticism - Essay

Galina Kornilova (review date 1964)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of An Easy Life, in Soviet Literature, Vol. 1, 1964, pp. 188-89.

[In the following essay, Kornilova outlines the defining characteristics of the stories comprising An Easy Life.]

Yuri Kazakov's stories are about ordinary things and ordinary people. There is nothing special about the people, nothing dramatic happens to them. His inspector Zubavin, whose job involves a lot of travelling, is again off on one of his missions; mechanic Kudryavtsev is returning empty-handed after a day's hunting, collective-farm club manager Zhukov is walking across a field after a hard day that has brought him one vexation after another. Each has only the usual round of dull cares to look forward to. But suddenly, surprisingly, “for no good reason,” each is overwhelmed by a deep sense of happiness. With one it is brought on at sight of a fog veiling the stars, with another by the glow of a distant campfire, with a third by the nocturnal breath of the forest and the smell of a river. Overtaken by it, mechanic Kudryavtsev wonders:

… why this sudden happiness? Now, if I had fallen in love, if I'd had a stroke of luck, if my work and everything else were going smoothly—why, then there'd be nothing to wonder at. But this groundless feeling, when in the midst of a black, hopeless mood your heart suddenly quivers and beats with joy, so that afterwards you remember the moment for a long time.

Kudryavtsev and the others experience this “groundless” joy because it is given to them, modest, ordinary people to feel and appreciate the beauty of nature, because they have an awareness of the pulsing of life in the autumnal fields, the dark forest, the damp ravines. And this awareness is complemented by an ability to understand people and feel with them, to respond sensitively to their joys and cares and thus to spread happiness about them. Their moment of heightened awareness of nature's...

(The entire section is 828 words.)

Edward Wasiolek (review date 1964)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Human Russia,” in Modern Age: A Quarterly Review, Vol. 8, No. 3, Summer, 1964, pp. 327-28.

[In the following laudatory review of Going to Town, Wasiolek maintains that “Kazakov expresses eloquently the mute gestures that speak of the heart's wild hopes and its quiet pains.”]

There is in this collection of Yuri Kazakov's stories [Going to Town and Other Stories] a bit of what has burdened the pages of much Soviet literature: simplifications at the service of crude ideology. An abstractionist painter is shown to be selfish, self-justifying, and incapable of love; a holy beggar to be a glutton, hypocrite, and lecher; a landlady, who is...

(The entire section is 667 words.)

George Gibian (essay date 1964)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: “Yurii Kazakov,” in Major Soviet Writers: Essays in Criticism, edited by Edward J. Brown, Oxford University Press, 1973, pp. 321-32.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1964 as the introduction to Selected Short Stories, Gibian surveys the defining characteristics of Kazakov's fiction and praises their novelty and modernity in light of his time and setting.]

Despite the slimness of his works, Yurii Kazakov has already become an author watched by those Russians who are most keenly interested in contemporary fiction. He has not yet won such a mass following as that of Konstantin Simonov: his works do not compare in breadth (and, one might...

(The entire section is 4891 words.)

Helen Muchnic (review date 1964)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: “Russian Pastorale: Kazakov,” in Russian Writers: Notes and Essays, Random House, 1971, pp. 354-58.

[In the following review, originally published in The New York Review of Books in 1964, Muchnic offers a positive assessment of Going to Town and discusses Kazakov's place in Soviet literature.]

The title story of this collection [Going to Town and Other Stories] is a rather grim sketch of a carpenter who leaves the country to take his sick wife to Moscow. He is sure she will die there and hopes she will, for he has long since stopped caring for her and she has prevented his settling in the city. They drive off in their cart, she, tears...

(The entire section is 1440 words.)

Karl D. Kramer (essay date 1966)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: “Jurij Kazakov: The Pleasures of Isolation,” in The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. X, 1966, pp. 22-31.

[In the following essay, Kramer analyzes the major thematic concern of Kazakov's short fiction—the theme of isolation.]

No recent Soviet writer has so concentrated his creative energies on one central theme as Jurij Kazakov has; there is hardly a story of his which does not depict a character who has isolated himself from the normal flow of life about him, from ordinary social intercourse. In considering Kazakov's stature as a writer, the question one must resolve is whether his stories represent a form of artistic escape or whether the body of...

(The entire section is 5061 words.)

Christopher Collins (essay date 1968)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: “Nature and Self in Kazakov,” in The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. XII, No. 4, Winter, 1968, pp. 397-406.

[In the following essay, Collins considers the themes of nature and isolation in several of Kazakov's stories.]

Both Soviet and Western critics have noted (although not explored) the influence of Turgenev and Bunin, among others, on Jurij Kazakov. In view of Turgenev's use of nature—especially in Otcy i deti—to indicate man's relationship to Self, and of even more complex currents in the works of Bunin,1 it is surprising that Kazakov's themes of nature and Self, of alienation and the overcoming of alienation, have received...

(The entire section is 7216 words.)

Michael Pursglove (essay date 1994)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: “Iurii Kazakov: Overview,” in Reference Guide to Short Fiction, edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Pursglove provides a brief overview of Kazakov's short fiction, describing it as “allusive, ambiguous, and open-ended,” the opposite of much Stalinist prose writing of years previous.]

Iurii Kazakov published no more than 35 short stories in all, and yet this small corpus of work epitomizes the literature of the post-Stalin “Thaw” period, ushered in by Khrushchev's secret speech to the 20th Party Congress in February 1956. The mere act of writing a short story represented a major change; Stalinist prose writing had...

(The entire section is 806 words.)