Melville House Publishing, Paperback, 9781935554677, 224pp.
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Set in a remote Siberian depot immediately following the demolition of one of the gulag's notorious camps and the emancipation of its prisoners, "Faithful Ruslan" is an embittered "cri de coeur" from a writer whose circumstances obliged him to resist the violence of arbitrary power. Every writer who writes anything in this country is made to feel he has committed a crime, Georgi Vladimov said. "Dissident," he said, is a word that they force on you. His mother, a victim of Stalin's anti-Semitic policy, had been interred for two years in one of the camps from which Vladimov derived the wrenching detail of "Faithful Ruslan." The novel circulated in "samizdat" for more than a decade, often attributed to Solzhenitsyn, before its publication in the West led to Vladimov's harassment and exile.
A starving stray, tortured and abandoned by the godlike Master whom he has unconditionally loved, Ruslan and his cadre of fellow guard dogs dutifully wait for the arrival of new prisoners but the unexpected arrival of a work party provokes a climactic bloodletting. Fashioned from the perceptions of an uncomprehending animal, Vladimov's insistently ironic indictment of the gulag spirals to encompass all of Man's inexplicable cruelty.
Michael Glenny, who died in Moscow in August 1990, was Britain s foremost translator of modern Russian literature.
"Among the greatest animal stories ever written..."
—Richard Adams, author of Watership Down
“Vladimov's particular distinction was as a dissident of immense moral courage, and as the author of Faithful Ruslan, one of the defining literary texts of the post-Stalin period. His life was one of constant vicissitudes, but his authority and fortitude remained firm to the end.”
"Melville House has reissued one of the most brilliantly crafted dissident books of the Soviet era....It is a slim volume that should be as well known as Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, but has been largely overlooked until now."—The Weekly Standard
“[A] perfectionist whose writing took him much effort…Vladimov produced a set of works that captured the mood of the times, but whose craft will ensure they survive.
“Known as a writer of strong conscience…Mr. Vladimov's best-known work, Faithful Ruslan, is a chilling, cynical parable of false hopes in the post-Stalin era.”
—New York Times
“Russia’s political reality can be best understood through Russian fiction. Today’s Russia, for instance, calls to mind “Faithful Ruslan,” a novella by dissident writer Georgy Vladimov.”
—The St. Petersburg Times (Russia)
“[An] exceptionally talented writer who has been cut down in mid-career and who is being hounded by the KGB. One reason for the persecution is his celebrated novella, Faithful Ruslan, which has circulated all over the country in samizdat.”