9.03.2010

A Testament to... ?


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I've read Testimony, The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich as related to and Edited by Solomon Volkov. I read many pages of it lying on the grass in the cool breeze of Manito and Comstock Parks, with Numi panting next to me, struggling not to chase squirrels (Numi, not me). The experience was tragic, not exactly in a bad way. It certainly got me vastly more interested in Soviet life and gave me a new appreciation for artistic integrity in the face of totalitarianism.
Only after I had finished did I read that it all might be made up. Essentially. I don't know all the details, but apparently it's an extremely polarizing piece of writing. Soviets called Volkov a liar. Americans called the Soviets liars. Volkov covered all his bases and now Shosy is dead... Whew... A big mudslinging war at a funeral.
It's at this point that my wife would say, "Why are you reading this? It's depressing! It's historically dubious! It gives you a case of the gloomies! Go watch Scrubs!" (I love Scrubs btw. Very funny, even the 10th time through.) But I'd say it's not a total loss. I'm even more eager to learn about Schostakovich and the culture of Soviet Russia than ever. I checked out Eastern's JFK Library last night and gazed in wonder at the Shosy section. I think next I'll have to tackle the biographies by Wilson and Fey. I've also got a Goodwill find called Inside Russia Today from the late fifty's. Plus I'm reading short stories by Dostoyevsky.
I feel as though it's a new opportunity. I was 4 when Communism ended in Russia. James Bond movies and Indiana Jones IV aside I feel as though I am at a place where I can look at all this with a different impartiality and openness. Bobok, bobok, bobok!

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