The Performance by Dovlatov

The Performance by Dovlatov
Photo by Darya Jum / Unsplash

Show Notes

This week, Matt and Cameron dive into the short story “The Performance,” from Sergei Dovlatov’s book The Zone. Get ready to dive into the most underrepresented point-of-view in the Soviet camp system: the guards. Well, kind of. Get ready to get stagnant and talk a bit about the state of the Soviet Union in the 1970s, but mostly about a play in a prison camp where all the old Bolsheviks are played by prisoners. Ideological confusion abounds.

Major themes: The real no-termers, dirty reality & brilliant falsehood, theater of absurdity

06:29 - The Russians by Hedgewick Smith

06:39 - Antiheroes in a Post-Heroic Age: Sergei Dovlatov, Vladimir Makanin, and Cold War Malaise by Angela Brintlinger

08:12 - Part 1 of our two-part series on Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina (I won’t link the second part here, because Part 2 has more listens than Part 1. Who are you people listening to just Part 2? Show yourselves. Explain.)

8:15 - Our episode on Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales.

27:43 - Unfortunately it’s only available in Russian, but check out the Prep Guide for the episode on our website for a relevant except

32:50 - Philosophy experts please don’t come for my neck. Also, for laypeople: you should be aware that this idea was not specifically applied to the progression of history, but was rather applied to gaining knowledge. The idea, however, later came to be applied more broadly by others.

The music used in this episode was “Старое Кино / Staroye Kino,” by Перемотка / Peremotka. You can find more of their work on Bandcamp and Youtube.

Check out the work of Shae McMullin, who did our wonderful podcast art.

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Questions, comments, want to hear your voice on a bonus episode? Send us an email at slaviclitpod@gmail.com or call our voicemail at 209.800.3944