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Sofia Petrovna (European Classics) Paperback – 1 Jun 1994

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Sofia Petrovna is Lydia Chukovskaya's fictional account of the Great Purge. Her eponymous heroine is a Soviet Everywoman, a doctor's widow who works as a typist in a Leningrad publishing house.

About the Author

Chukovskaya, the daughter of the eminent critic and children's writer Kornei Chukovsky, was a passionate defender of Russian letters and human rights.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chukovskaya's vision of an unmentionable time 3 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Madame Chukovskaya's Sofia Petrovna is one of the best examples of Soviet protest literature available to English readers. Her prose style, spare and direct, is marvelously fitting for this story of a Soviet everywoman's loss of faith. Because there is little introspection, the reader is forced to look deeply into why the events in the heroine's life are causing her to go mad. The reflection on the Soviet system which this creates is one of the best ways to study the period about which Chukovskaya wrote.

What is particularly moving about this book is the voice Chukovskaya uses to tell her story. It is the most feminine of voices, that of a mother, whose compassion and faith in her son, while conflicting with her identity as a good Soviet citizen, are emotions with which any female reader can relate, or any parent.

This short novel is often grouped with A. Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch. The relation between the two books is compelling. One presents the story of those who were senselessly condemned to the gulags; the other recounts the impact of this condemnation on the families and friends left behind.

Although this book is not widely read by the American public, I think it one of the most moving stories of Soviet life in the Stalinist era. For this reason, I believe it will continue to be a classic of Soviet literature for many years to come
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars displays the terrors of the Great Purges 29 April 2011
By Mark - Published on
Format: Paperback
Sofia Petrovna is a Russian classic in 2 separate ways. First we see the atrocities committed during the Stalinist era. During the great purges anyone believed to be a Kulak or have foreign relations were put on trial. There is one quote within the book that states something along the lines of "the government wouldn't lock up innocent people" only displaying the ignorance of the time. Sofia's son is taken away because his name is dropped within an interrogation leaving his mother distraught. We see the hardships she and other women of the time faced. The second aspect that makes this book important to read is the fact that it is written in the 30's but wasn't published until the late 70's or early 80's under Gorbachev's Glasnost. From Stalin to Chernenko, the author was incapable of getting her work published because of its criticisms of the government. From a modern perspective, Sofia gives us a good view of Russian policy from pre-WWII through the cold war era.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous Times, Simple Writing 10 Mar. 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book was assigned to me in a Russian literature course, and it is one of the best Russian books that I have read so far.

As already mentioned in other reviews, it was very dangerous for Lydia Chukovskaya to have written this book, and is an excellent example of subversive writing at the time. It clearly captures the feelings at the time, as well as the reactions of the people.

The sad descent of Sofia Petrovna and her son into despair and madness is well-written in this great novel, which, while very simply and plainly written, is extremely expressive and emotional, while never being a cliche.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Russian studies or Letting Some of Your Emotions Out 3 Feb. 2014
By JAckson McKinney - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It really gets your head into a single person right after the Reds took over. The incredible character progression is so believable it's terrible. A widowed woman sees her once beautiful life torn from her by unknown powers. If you're doing any sort of study in the Soviet Union you need to read this to grasp the mindset of the day. If you're looking for a captivating drama get this book. I read it in two bathtub sittings. I had to keep turning on the water to keep it hot!
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good 6 Dec. 2013
By Demetrius Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for a world history class at the University of Tennessee and must say it was an enjoyable read. The fictional tale gave me a rather clear imagery of what women were going through during the era of the great purges and Stalinism at its peak. Sofia was a rather naive person when it came to any situation about her son being a criminal or involved with the wrong things but believing everything else around her was polluted. The funny thing is that this is how mothers react about their children believing them to be innocent at all times. The ending was somewhat disappointing because of how abrupt it was but in a sense it was fitting because reality had finally struck in Sofia's mind about never seeing her son again. I recommend this one.
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