A Monumental Novel
Mikhail Sholokhov is Russian writer who wrote his epic “And Quiet Flows the Don”. It’s a lovely book that won a Nobel Prize for the author in 1965. Sholokhov was an unabashed communist and supporter of Stalin. This is something that was not liked by Western authorities and for long Sholokhov was denigrated as a writer of “no consequence”. Unfortunately, there were many academicians who were convinced that Sholokhov was a great writer and this led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. It was a richly deserved prize.
Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel runs into 5 volumes and is a monumental work, which needs some time to read. I read this novel over a period of almost a month, but I liked it and realized that Sholokhov is a great writer. His theme is simple. The novel recounts the lives of two protagonists who see Russia through a period of wars, civil war and the Tsarist and communist rule. There is violence and war and love all around. But in this turmoil, the river Don flows quietly and eternally into the sea.
The river Don is unchanging and an anchor of the novel. I have read the epic at least twice and now I can relate the book to my personal life as well. Sholokhov writes about contrasting characters and protagonists who support the Communists and the Czar. What a lovely scenario he paints of rural Russia and the final triumph of the communists. All credit to Sholokhov for the epic. I understand it took him almost 14 years to write. After reading this novel one is apt to get nostalgic of communist rule under Stalin. Despite the propaganda by the West, I am convinced Stalin was one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.
Sholokhov was born in 1905 in what is known as the land of the Cossacks. He died in 1984 and did not live to see the disintegration of Russia. Sholokhov also wrote Virgin Soil Upturned, which earned the Lenin Prize, took 28 years to complete. He also wrote Seeds of Tomorrow (1932) and Harvest on the Don (1960).
Sholokhov has a permanent place in Russian and world literature. He earned his respect among western writers as well, but he was a strong supporter of the communist regime and accompanied Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to USA in 1959. This contrasts with the anti-communist approach of Boris Pasternak who also won the Nobel Prize, but merely because he wrote against Communism.