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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful beyond belief
As above, but my proviso (as a reader of Russian language) is that the more recent translation (as "Moscow Stations") is truer to the original and better in style. Best line "Eat less, drink more, so as not to be a superficial atheist". Large measures of Dostoevsky and Gogol alongside Brezhnev stagnation era realia! Both hilariously funny and...
Published on 28 Jun 2000

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stopping train...
I don't deny this is an important book - even a profound one - but you'd probably enjoy it more if you expected less than the 'five star' grading that most of the other reviewers give it. I'm a fan of Russian literature, but Slavic humour is a slippery fish. Dostoevsky is full of laughs, but only if you're lucky enough to get the right translation; and to me the European...
Published on 27 Jun 2009 by Sporus


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful beyond belief, 28 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
As above, but my proviso (as a reader of Russian language) is that the more recent translation (as "Moscow Stations") is truer to the original and better in style. Best line "Eat less, drink more, so as not to be a superficial atheist". Large measures of Dostoevsky and Gogol alongside Brezhnev stagnation era realia! Both hilariously funny and tragic, with a positive spiritual message that reveals itself with repeated reads.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanichka's Journey, 21 Dec 2002
This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
Moskva-Petushki, which is translated in English as Moscow to the End of the Line, is Venedikt Erofeev's greatest work, one drunken man's (Venichka's) journey on the Moskovskaia-Gor'skovskaia train line to visit his lover and child in the Petushki. En route, Venichka talks with other travelers in dialogue and he also speaks in monologue about various themes such as drinking, Russian literature and philosophy and the sad, poetic soul of the Russian peasant. As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly dark, disoriented, hallucinogenic and surrealistic, in proportion to the narrator's alcohol intake.
Moscow to the End of the Line was written in 1970. During this time, Erofeev, himself, was traveling around the Soviet Union working as a telephone cable layer. Erofeev's friends have said the author made the story up in order to entertain his fellow workers as they traveled, and that many of these fellow workers were later incorporated as characters in the book.
The text of the novel began to be circulated in samizdat within the Soviet Union and then it was smuggled to the West where it was eventually translated into English. The official Russian language publication took place in Paris in 1977. With glasnost, Moscow to the End of the Line was able to be circulated freely within Russia, but, rather than stick to the original form, the novel was abridged in the government pamphlet Sobriety and Culture, ostensibly as a campaign against alcoholism. Finally, in 1995, it was officially published, together with all the formerly edited obscenities and without censorship.
Although he is an alcoholic, Venichka never comes across to the reader as despicable. Venichka is not a man who drinks because he wants to drink; he drinks to escape a reality that has gone beyond miserable and veered off into the absurd. He is not a stupid or pitiable character, but rather one who has no outlet for his considerable intelligence. That Venichka is very educated is obvious; he makes intelligent and well-read references to both literature and religion. However, in the restrictive Soviet Union of his time, there was no outlet for this kind of intelligent creativity; Venichka is forced to channel his creative instincts into bizarre drink recipes and visions of sphinxes, angels and devils.
Although many will see Moscow to the End of the Line as satire, it really is not. Instead, it is Erofeev's anguished and heartfelt cry, a cry that demanded change. Venichka is not a hopeless character, however, the situation in which he is living is a hopeless one.
A semi-autobiographical work, Moscow to the End of the Line was never meant as a denunciation of alcoholism but rather an explanation of why alcohol was so tragically necessary in the day-to-day life of citizens living under Soviet rule.
Moscow to the End of the Line is a highly entertaining book and it is a book that is very important in understanding the Russia of both yesterday and today as well. This book is really a classic of world literature and it is a shame that more people do not read Moscow to the End of the Line rather than relying on the standard "bestseller." This book deserves to be more widely read and appreciated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stopping train..., 27 Jun 2009
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Sporus (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
I don't deny this is an important book - even a profound one - but you'd probably enjoy it more if you expected less than the 'five star' grading that most of the other reviewers give it. I'm a fan of Russian literature, but Slavic humour is a slippery fish. Dostoevsky is full of laughs, but only if you're lucky enough to get the right translation; and to me the European Classic's version of Erofeev's work feels soggy and leaden. The paradisical rewards of 'booze lit' are similarly suggested in the sense, but not the syntax, of the words and - for a comparatively slim volume - it makes for an unexpectedly arduous trip.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drinking For Measure, 20 Jun 2008
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This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
A very funny story. "Go to Petushki. There'll you'll find salvation". With these words ringing in his ears Venya set off on the long train ride from Moscow. Goaded on by angels and demons (vodka and beer) he falls into all manner of reveries with like minded passengers mulling over everything from life to love to literature to politics. His account of his (imagined) travels to western europe are hilarious. The tone is merry and there's a lot to mull over. One side of this coin is the easy comradeship that comes from drinking together. The other side of the coin is the pit that comes with drinking too much. A funny book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Erofeev: the Holy Fool as Moscow Drunk., 8 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
Venedikt Erofeev wrote--not terribly prolifically--for most of his life, but received no official recognition from the Soviet establishment. And though his works circulated underground--in the samizdat circles--he did not fit the mold of the Soviet dissident writer a la Solzhenitsyn, at least in the sense that American Cold Warriors approved. His works, most often focusing on brief episodes in the lives of inveterate drinkers, dealt not with Soviet heroes or even bourgeois villains, but with those left totally disillusioned with a society which had officially lost its soul. His characters were drunks, but drunks who in their suffering knew grace, not Western anti-heroes but Brezhnevian updates of Russian holy fools. "Moskva-Petushki"--translated as "Moscow to the End of the Line"--is generally considered his masterpiece.
The novel consists basically of a long from Moscow to Petushki, where the narrator, an ex-construction foreman who shares the name of the author, plans on meeting his girlfriend and child. "Venichka," as the character is affectionately called, begins the novel waking from a drunken sleep to find more alcohol, and for the rest of the novel gets drunker. His confusions and hallucinations are the true subject of the book. In Erofeev--and he comments on this subject in the book itself--the effect of alcohol is not physical, but spiritual.
Erofeev's novel functions on a number of levels. His humor, as a reviewer notes on the back cover, is the equal of Gogol's. For this reason alone, he merits attention. But "Moscow to the End of the Line" offers more than humor. It illuminates a Russia the Soviet regime tried to cover, and a Russia that Western observers, seeing in the February Revolution a democratic impulse in the Western sense stolen from history by the Bolsheviks, missed as well: the spiritual Russia, Russkaia Dusha, the "Russian Soul." Russians surely needed to hear about Western civil liberties during the Brezhnev era; just as surely, the West, perhaps not irretreivably secular, might as well hear Erofeev.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Celebration of Alcoholism, 25 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
Alcohol and literature sometimes go hand in hand. In this semi-personal account of the last day of his life, Venedict Erofeev (VE; 1938-90) complains that whenever he wants to see the Kremlin, he ends up at the Kursk-railway station. Next he states that proper inebriation releases the best qualities in man: suddenly occurring new insights into religion, the classics of literature and international politics can enthrall, even hypnotize listeners. Until body and mind pass out, to wake up eons later with a Soviet-size hangover.
This novella is situated in a former paradise for alcoholics, the SU under Brezhnev, which had full employment, but also a poor alcohol-related work ethic and -forms of corruption. Serious addicts knew when outlets opened and closed. In lean times they concocted cocktails from unlikely ingredients (four toxic recipes provided).
VE's last day begins with a mega-hangover and a painfully slow, chaotic rush of last-minute purchases. Because for the past 3 years, VE (30) has taken the slow train from Moscow to Petushki (125 km), a journey from hell to heaven, to visit the love of his life and their small boy. After the first of many stops, VY embarks on hangover management, a heroic, daily struggle to keep the first maintenance dose down. It is, once again, succesful and VE is off for a new day of rising high spirits, ready to explain his vision of past, presence and future. It is for readers to savour what follows on the slow train to Petushki.
Smartly plotted with brief chapters named after the legs between stations. VE died from throat cancer a year after his book was finally published in his homeland Russia. He wrote it during working hours in a cable workshop at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in 1969. It was first published in Israel in 1975, then translated into other languages. Rich, dense and passionate book. Insightful, intriguing and worth reading again.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 25 Aug 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
This is clearly one of the masterpieces of twentieth century Russian letters. Sometimes I cheer myself up just by reading the passage where the angels appear to Benny (the narrator) and far from giving him a glimpse of divine revelation, point out that there were certainly some bottles of red wine at the station buffet.
Erofeev was a gentle, witty drunk, immensely shrewd - he made a hilarious interview subject in a BBCTV documentary in the late eighties, retailing recipes for bizarre cocktails of vodka and air-freshener, despite the fact that cancer had stripped out his vocal cords. I don't know of any other works by him and wish I did. Legend had it he was working on a history of the Jews. Any tips?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars INCOMPREHENSIBLE, 24 Dec 2012
By 
Mr. Michael Richard Harris (Michael, from Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
I didn't understand this book, so perhaps I shouldn't review it. I tried to understand where the author was going, with his drunken gibberish and opaque commentary, but I just couldn't see it.Many of the reviews are very good, so don't let me put you off, but I found it an annoying and pretentious work. It is as if somebody had called the author an "intellectual" and he felt that great authors never write clearly...well he's wrong.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soviet Russia 'underground', hurting and drunk, 6 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
The protagonist of this book is a drunk, and he's not a happy one. He's ranting; stabbingly lucid and resisting, then craving, transformation -- but it's impossible to achieve. An allegory of Soviet Russia, maybe even the human condition. Many Russian readers revere this book and its late author.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beatific ‘Booze Lit’ at its best, 11 Mar 2006
This review is from: Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) (Paperback)
‘MTTEOTL’ records the thoughts of an incurable alcoholic (Venya) as he takes his final train journey from Moscow to Petushki, where his girlfriend and child await him. As each station passes he falls deeper into an alcoholic stupor, pouring out his love for the world and invective against it in equal measure, while the angels encourage him to take just one more drink before the end of the line. He muses about his relationship with alcohol, and that of his fellow workers (he lost his previous job after charting their alcohol intake against their productivity), the beauty and ugliness he sees in society around him, and the hope of redemption offered by his love at Petushki. As the train rumbles on, the end of the line seems to become further away, not closer, and redemption becomes a distant prospect compared to the attractions of the bottle.
‘MTTEOTL’ is ‘booze lit’ at its absolute best, and for me, ranks up alongside ‘The Lost Weekend’ and ‘Under the Volcano’ as a classic of the genre. It differs from those two because it is narrated in the first person, rather than the third, so that whereas they are lucid accounts of binges (sober people writing about drunk ones), ‘MTTEOTL’ is written from the viewpoint of Vanya mid-binge. Consequently it is hallucinatory in style, as we see the world through the same alcoholic fog clouding his vision while he converses with angels and harasses strangers. Vanya’s monologue is revelatory and beatific, grandiose in its scope and poetic in substance, as the whole world becomes encapsulated in his train journey. It is not a big book anyway, but the flow of language made it a very easy, enjoyable read, despite the disjointedness of the thought processes being recorded. It balances the beauty of the drunk’s thoughts with the tragedy of his situation and, like other ‘Booze Lit’ I have read, shows both the poetry and horror of a life ravaged by alcohol.
‘MTTEOTL’ is a must-read for fans of ‘Booze Lit’ but, more than that, deserves, in my opinion, to be widely recognised as a great book in its own right. Vanya’s thoughts are often brutal and ugly, as is his fate, so people looking for a light read in that respect should look elsewhere. Also, if you struggle to sympathise with characters hell-bent on self-destruction through addiction, then I guess ‘MTTEOTL’ isn’t for you either. If, however, you are looking for a book with beautiful sentiment, brutal reality, surrealistic imagery and poetic language, then this is definitely the one.
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Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics)
Moscow to the End of the Line (European Classics) by Venedikt Erofeev (Paperback - 31 Mar 1995)
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