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Story of a Life Paperback – February 12, 1982


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 661 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (February 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394710142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394710143
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation)

Customer Reviews

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Marc J. Osborne on October 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I originally found this book buried in the shelves of my high school library (Georgetown Preparatory School, Bethesday, MD, USA). It was already old and had never been checked out. I was immediately drawn by the cover, a photograph of Mr. Paustovsky's face looming out of the shadows. The lined face and weary but piercing eyes commanded me to read it. Within minutes I was drawn inexorably into the early years of an extraordinary life. Because of Mr. Paustovsky I will alway think of plane trees whenever I hear of Kiev, I will always think back to his parent's death when I see a swollen river with an island in its middle trying to resist the surge of water. I've always been fascinated by Russian history but nothing quite evokes the World War/Revolution/Civil War era as well as his memoirs. Bunin, Pasternak, Sholokov, Solzhenitsyn...all are excellent and probably more encompassing than Paustovsky. No one, however, renders that era more personally and more lyrically than he. I never returned the book to the library. When it started to show signs of age and I was afraid it might start to fall apart I ordered it from Amazon even though it was out of print and received a good condition second hand hardback edition after a few months. Now both copies hold place of honor in my library and I will soon reread it and, in doing so, reclaim a little bit of the humanity that the drudgery of daily life wears away from me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Old Dog on June 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A labor of love by a greatly talented, highly professional wordsmith who, surviving much and seeing much during "interesting times," wished to recapture his past, beginning with his childhood (when Tolstoi and Chekhov yet lived) to the early years of the civil war in 20c Russia. As a writer he brilliantly paints the primordial lanscapes of Russia and the Ukraine, and the offerings of Kiev before the Fall. As a writer he excels in vivid, brief portraiture worthy of his great masters, Gogol and Dickens and Dumas. Yes, the recapitulations are often romantic, but they are wonderfully drawn. This is not the aristocratic introspections of Biely's St Petersburg or the leisurely, extended portraitures of Proust's sexually panicked world or the desperate wit (between the tears) of the exiled Nabokov. Paust. stands completely outside 20c western and middle European literature; his acknowledged masters are Chekhov, Turgenev, Stendhal, Maupassant. (It were interesting to contrast Paus.'s work with the classic tradition in American literature--that is, with the grim adumbrations of Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Eliot, P Roth, O'Hara, Frost, Faulkner, Cheever.) An excellent translation--easy, clear, supple. This is not a point of view available to us who grew up in the '50s and '60s. By the way, the last quarter of the book now seems prophetic in its depiction of the greed and chaos and ugly tribalism that befell the Russia of the czars in the face of revolution. All now is as foretold then. The writer as prophet! In this regard, read Joseph Conrad's political essays on Russia written before the Great War. He too had foreseen a devolution to Hobbes's state of nature (not Rousseau's)--a delimma of such times: first comes anarchy, then tyranny.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Baker on December 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I married a woman from the Ukraine and one of her friends suggested I read Konstantin Paustovsky. Being as I had never heard of him and knew virtually nothing about the Ukraine etc, my curiosity got the best of me and I purchased this book. Actually I loved it so much that I simply couldn't put it down until I was finished. It will enlighten anyone on the Ukrainian culture and their difficulties during their revolution. Great reading.I hope this helps.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By c.a.t.schalken@kub.nl on June 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this sequel of books in the dutch translation of Wim Hartog. Part of the enjoyment of these books lie in the beautiful translation. The story is the autobiography of Paustovsky, who later in his life wrote about his earlier life before, during and after the russian revolution. The descriptions of places and persons are wonderful. Also Paustovsky tells a lot about the way he writes and how he views the books he has read. Beside the story of his life Paustovsky wrote a lot of other books. The books so far translated in Dutch are unfortunately less interesting than his lifestory.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Bembry on December 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know I'm a geek about these things, but I love these worm's eye views of history. Konstantin Paustovsky stated that this was not a recording of history, but of his life during those times. For him, that was from 1892-1964. What times in Russia! And Pautovsky absorbed it all, with a never-flagging gratitude for living in interesting times.

I already read the first part of this volume--childhood and school days-- which had been published as a separate book. Then I found out that there was actually a longer book, published under the same name, all out of print, of course, which made it a little hard to track down. I got this volume through Nashville Public Library's interlibrary loan, from Chattanooga. Thank you, Chattanooga, thank you Nashville. After reading the loaned copy--and now knowing what to look for-- I bought a copy to keep.

Konsatntin Paustovsky's life began in a secure, tightly knit middle-class family in Kiev, full of lively and sometimes eccentric aunts and uncles and grandparents, which eventually fell apart, his parents separating, his mother reduced to poverty, his sister going blind and deaf, and he virtually on his own as a teenager. He nevertheless finished the gymnasium as a scholarship student and entered adulthood about the same time that Russia entered the Revolution. And I say "entered" because the Russian Revolution was a process, not an event. Nowhere is that more evident than in the story of a person who lived through it, working at whatever he could, hungry to be a writer, but sometimes, I think, just hungry for life. Was he conscripted into an army company of bandits, in as much danger from his cohorts as from the current opposing army?
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