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A New Year's Tale: And the Years of His Life Were 900

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    A story from the old Soviet Union, written by the Russian writer Vladimir Dudintsev, still teaching us things today. And here is a written version from a 2013 post. Some 50 years ago, I received as a Christmas present a book titled "Russian Science Fiction." All the stories in that book made a deep impression on me, but there was one that has remained in my mind more than the others; a curious story titled "A New Year's Tale". I was, maybe, 12 at that time and, of course, I couldn't understand everything of that story and I didn't pay attention to the name of the author. But, as time went by, I didn't forget it; rather, it became entrenched in my mind, progressively acquiring more meaning and more importance. I reread it not long ago, and it came back to my mind during a recent trip to Russia. So, let me tell you this story as I remember it. "A New Year's Tale" tells of one year of life of the protagonist, a researcher in a scientific laboratory somewhere in the Soviet Union. Dudintsev manages to tell the story without ever giving specific details about anything: no place names, no names of the characters, not even of the protagonist. It is a feat of literary virtuosity; it gives the story an atmosphere of a fairy tale but, at the same time, it is very, very specific.It took me time before I could understand the hints that Dudintsev gives all over the text, but after many trips to Russia, everything fell in place. It is curious how Dudintsev managed to catch so well the atmosphere of a research lab in the Soviet Union; he was not a scientific researcher. But that's what makes a great storyteller, after all: understanding what one is describing - and feeling something for it. The story starts with a debate - rather, a quarrel - that the protagonist has with someone termed "a provincial academic" (we are not told his name). This provincial academic should be nothing more than a nuisance, but the protagonist can't avoid. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

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