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Recalling the dead: repetition, identity, and the witness in Varlam Shalamov's Kolymskie rasskazy

Young, SJ; (2011) Recalling the dead: repetition, identity, and the witness in Varlam Shalamov's Kolymskie rasskazy. Slavic Review , 70 (2) pp. 353-372.

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Abstract

From recurring characters to the retelling of stories, repetition plays a central role in Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales. The article examines how repetition functions in Shalamov's collections of short stories as a indicator of trauma by foregrounding the tensions created by the erosion of identity in the labour camp, and the Gulag survivor/narrator's problematic relationship to memory. At the same time, repetition also becomes a means of drawing the uncomprehending reader into the text to act as witness to that trauma. Comparing Shalamov's mode of testimony to Giorgio Agamben's theorization of the non-survivor as the true witness to Auschwitz, drawn from Primo Levi's conception, the article argues that Shalamov's stories bear witness to the trauma of Kolyma, and those who did not survive it, not through a transformation of the writer, but through a reciprocity of writer and reader.

Type: Article
Title: Recalling the dead: repetition, identity, and the witness in Varlam Shalamov's Kolymskie rasskazy
Location: USA
Publisher version: http://www.slavicreview.illinois.edu/
Keywords: Russian literature, Gulag, Trauma, Subjectivity
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1364269
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