Read Another Life and The House on the Embankment by Yury Trifonov Michael Glenny John Updike Online


Widely regarded as a major writer of his generation, Yuri Trifonov tolerated attack and admiration in the Soviet Union. His novellas are celebrated as being in the tradition of great nineteenth-century Russian writing. In "Another Life," a woman suddenly widowed attempts to grasp the memory of her brilliant, erratic husband, and to understand their life together. "The HousWidely regarded as a major writer of his generation, Yuri Trifonov tolerated attack and admiration in the Soviet Union. His novellas are celebrated as being in the tradition of great nineteenth-century Russian writing. In "Another Life," a woman suddenly widowed attempts to grasp the memory of her brilliant, erratic husband, and to understand their life together. "The House on the Embankment" is the story of an academic opportunist who rises to apparatchik but suffers the oppression of society, friends, and most of all his inability to make decisions....

Title : Another Life and The House on the Embankment
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ISBN : 9780810115705
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 350 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Another Life and The House on the Embankment Reviews

  • Michael
    2019-01-12 12:36

    I was originally assigned to read the second novella of this volume for a class on Russian history, which I took as I prepared to enter graduate school for history. The course was on the Soviet period, and the novel addressed the later period, when the first flush of the revolution was over, and aging Communists vied for position of power. It’s hard for me to believe, reading Trifonov now, that he was approved to write during the Soviet era, so critical is he of the social conditions of the USSR. But, I wonder whether this is a result of the biases I bring to the text, as a middle-class American raised during the Cold War, or if it so happens that I am better able to “understand” Trifonov than his would-be Communist censors. The volume consists of two novellas, or povest’ written in Russian in the mid-1970s. The first one, Another Life, concerns a woman whose husband dies at the beginning of the story, triggering a retrospective grieving process in which the story of their relationship is told in a series of flashbacks. The technique struck me as quite clever and also surprisingly successful, although Trifonov did not give as satisfying a resolution as I had anticipated, leaving many loose ends (as there often are in life as well). We learn early on not to trust the narrator: Olga Vasilievna is a deeply narcissistic person, who thinks of the actions of others only as they impact her, and she is generally aware only of the surface of events, not their deeper meaning. At first, I suspected that the ultimate moral would be that she had, in fact, killed her husband by being a source of stress and worry in his life, but as I read on, it seemed to me that the true source of Sergei’s sorrow was not his wife, but the demands of a society based on compromise and political back-scratching. There is a scene in which his former co-workers demand his research notes, with the implication that a case may be made for his political censure, but this is not pressed home, it simply haunts the pages like the ghost of a threat. This may be an example of how his criticisms snuck past the Soviet editors…or is it more important that Sergei was, toward the end of his life, lured into a shadow world of “parapsychological” research and séances, thus losing his grip on the official atheism the state would prescribe as healthy and realistic? Either way, I found the book fascinating, in a depressed Russian sort of way.The novella I read for school, The House on the Embankment, is similar but I think even more cleverly constructed and more overtly critical. It involves an academic apparatchik whose main interest in life when we meet him is getting ahold of a fancy table for his communal apartment. He runs into an old school chum and this triggers a series of memories of how he wound up in a position of authority and security in life. Primarily, we learn, he has succeeded by refusing to make decisions, by having no loyalties (or even any conception of them), and by valuing things over people. His reflection on his school days are telling. The chum he ran into, Lev Shulepa, had lived in “the house on the embankment,” which during their youth was a fancy place for people with important connections. Glebov, the narrator, remembers the elevator men and the fancy trim on the walls. He had always lived in a less desirable area, and clearly envied the students lucky enough to grow up in the house on the embankment. Lev becomes a close friend, but also a symbol of those who are lucky enough to have everything given to them. I found myself reflecting on my own childhood friendship with such a classmate, and wondering whether I had grown up to become a Glebov. It seems to me a remarkable accomplishment in writing to be able to make the audience question their own moral standards, but maybe mine is a unique reaction. The other impressive thing is, as with Another Life, that we are able to simultaneously identify with Glebov and come to realize over the novella what a selfish and loathsome character he really is, despite his myopia as a narrator and his constant justifications. Trifonov “cheats” just a little bit by shifting narrators for brief periods and telling us what his friends thought of him from the perspective of one of the other children from school. In spite of that, it remains a very effective story.

  • Czarny Pies
    2018-12-25 15:02

    This book contains two short novellas that provide a marvellous view of life of academia behind the Iron Curtain in Russia from the 1940s to the 1970s. One is struck by the relative poverty of the country. For financial reasons couples must live with the Mother-in-Law of one of the two. University professors struggle to find the money to buy acceptable clothes for their children. No one owns a car.The academic politics in the Soviet Union seem to be even nastier than in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." It is the nasty academic infighting the provides the central drama for both books.In "Another Life" our central protagonist is one of the losers in the dog-eat-dog struggle. Trifonov plays a dazzling game with the reader. We do not know if the hero is undone because he is too idealistic, too lazy, too much of a drinker or disastrously inept at office politics. Certainly all four factors seem to be at play. However, fail he does and with dreadful consequences for all around him. Trifonov tells this woeful tale with brio and efficiency.In "The House on the Embankment", our hero is absolutely abject. He excels at sitting on the fence. He remains loyal until the last possible moment before betraying his friends and loved ones in the most vile and opportunistic manner. The tale is told brilliantly and has moments of great wit.These two books provide tremendous insight into life behind the iron curtain. They are nasty however and likely to nauseate all but those who are highly interested in the era.

  • lyell bark
    2019-01-11 15:36

    a couple of cool books about miserable peoplebeing miserable in communist russia. only, they have the same stupid aspirations toward middle class complacency that americans do. perhaps we're not so different after all.

  • Mohammad Sadegh Rasooli
    2019-01-08 16:47

    هر چقدر گشتم نتوانستم ترجمه فارسی کتاب را بیابم. خیلی عجیب است که‌ نوشته‌های چنین نویسنده تاثیرگذاری ترجمه نشده باشد. تبحر نویسنده در تحلیل روان‌شناسانه شخصیت‌ها و ترسیم فضای اجتماعی شوروی ستودنی است.

  • Zan
    2018-12-19 16:00

    Soviet Russian literature is as bleak as one mightexpecthope it to be.

  • John Crane
    2018-12-19 17:00

    Still scratching my head about this one. A rather bland read, though it did give insight into the Soviet era. What is impressive is that it was written during the Soviet era - and that is what kept me going. The fact that there was criticism of the system is rather amazing. However, as far as a piece of literature, I am rather baffled by the hyperbolic praise on the back cover....

  • Tony Gualtieri
    2019-01-10 10:49

    Two exquisite novellas that deal with 20th century themes in a 19th century style. The back cover cites Chekhov, but I hear the slightly more expansive tones of Theordor Fontane, especially in the first story, "Another Life", which is as fine a piece of writing as I've ever read.

  • Alex
    2018-12-31 16:41

    Excellent book

  • Emma
    2018-12-27 12:40

    3.5 (House on the Embankment)

  • Jessica
    2019-01-01 09:48

    Only read "House on the Embankment."

  • Laura Wetsel
    2019-01-12 11:47

    Particularly interesting for me as I currently live in this haunted house! Well, I haven't seen any ghosts yet...