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The Case of Comrade Tulayev (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – June 30, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
— Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
The brilliance of his novel utterly ineluctable as it sweeps across 1930’s Europe from the gulags to the Kremlin, to Paris and to Barcelona.
— The Times (London)
The Case of Comrade Tulayev is gritty and rough, saturated in the squalor of Moscow life; but it also pulses with lyrical flights that take us up into the stars, which represent for Serge the regenerative, transformative moments the History promises but has yet to deliver. Tulayev is infused with mysticism; it is a work of cosmic longing, as if Serge is turning to the eternity of the universe itself to avoid the utter despair right in front of his face.
— Matthew Price, Bookforum
It is a protest novel no less significant and no more dated than Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. These novels recreate the feel of daily existence years ago, animate the history texts, and give readers an irreplaceable personal perspective. Books like these ensure the past is not forgotten….The quality of life depicted in The Case of Comrade Tulayev showed why the Stalinist monolith could not endure.
— Joe Auciello, Socialist Action
Given the standard of fortitude, and given the contempt Serge always felt for Stalin’s collaborators, a remarkable feature of The Case of Comrade Tulayev is its chiaroscuro….That Serge intended no lenience here we may be sure, but we may likewise be sure that he would never have swallowed the later euphemisms and half-truths of Khrushchev, putting blame for all the enormities of an epoch on the evil of a single individual.
— Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly
Serge can recognize the range of experience and responses that make up the texture of life in even the most nightmarishly repressive system.
— Scott McLemee
Top Customer Reviews
This should be read with the best fiction of the last century, not consigned to the back shelves with cold war historical documents and Soviet oddities. Serge speaks to terror and freedom of thought, existential choices and the ability to reconcile oneself to imperfect realities. Utterly inspiring.
The consequences of the murder were terrible: deportations, show trials, executions, a total 'cleansing' of the communist party and a liquidation of the party delegates in the Parliament.
This book gives an excellent portrait of the atmosphere in the USSR under Stalin just before World War II: suspicion, despondency, embitterment, poverty, prostitution, insecurity, theft.
As Marx said: I sowed dragons and I harvested fleas.
At the time of the publication of his book, Victor Serge was heavily criticized by the hardliners in the Western CP's, because he was a Trotskyist and his picture should be biased.
But in fact, the situation was even more catastrophic (see 'Harvest of Sorrow' by Roger Conquest).
A still very readable book. Not only for historians.
Victor Serge's novel "The Case of Comrade Tulayev" is set in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, long before "the chains wore out." It is a classic and haunting look at Soviet society during an era of party purges, show trials, and executions that deserves a place of honor on any reading list that also includes Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon", George Orwell's "1984" and Vasily Grossman's "Forever Flowing" .
Serge, born in Brussels in 1890 to Russian emigre parents, returned to Russia early in 1919 in order to support the newly created Soviet Union. He served as both a writer and journalist. However, Serge was one of the first of the old-line revolutionaries to oppose Stalin's concentration of power. He was arrested, expelled from the party, released, and arrested again. Finally, in 1936 after a public campaign by leading European political and literary figures, Serge was released and deported to France. He eventually found his way to Mexico where he died, penniless, in 1947.
The Case of Comrade Tulayev mirrors in some respects the murder of Sergei Kirov that set off Stalin's first great purge beginning in 1934. The story begins with the almost accidental murder of a leading member of the Central Committee, Comrade Tulayev by a disaffected clerk. The Chief (Serge's allusion to Stalin) immediately commences a round of purges, investigations, show trials and executions. The rest of the book takes us on a chapter-by-chapter account of a group of individuals caught up in the aftermath of the murder. Each individual represents a different component of Soviet society, from the lowly clerk to the high-ranking party functionary to the `oppositionist' already living in exile in Siberia.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a bit too wandering for my taste. I had expected a tightly-woven plot, but the author digressed too much with philosophical musings.Published 11 months ago by A Reader in Virginia
It is the height of Stalin's paranoia, show trials and terror. Neighbours Romachkin and Kostia hold menial positions and suffer the drudgery poverty and terror of the times. Read morePublished 16 months ago by An admirer of Saul
A wonderful book written by an astute recorder of the Stalin years.Published 20 months ago by Owen Dimock
A good read that reveals a world devoid of freedom.
Recommended for all who want to read a more complex work than 1984 or Darkness at Noon.
Required reading for those few remaining souls who still cannot fathom the depth of Stalin's murderous paranoia. Tedious and telling.Published on March 28, 2014 by william f. wasley
From Prof Adam Morton @ University of Sydney "On Victor Serge and the Journey into Defeat: The Case of Comrade Tulayev"
I can add little to what are some excellent reviews,but must agree that it is difficult to know why this work is less well known than other works by... Read morePublished on January 28, 2014 by S.R.H
This novel deserves the same recognition as "Darkness at Noon." Like Solzhenitsyn's novels, while based on actual events, it gives the reader a unique chance to live... Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by John Desmond