The Oak and the Calf

date of publication:  1975,1980
original title:  Бодался теленок с дубом
language:  Russian

The Oak and the Calf, subtitled Sketches of Literary Life in the Soviet Union, is a memoir by Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, about his attempts to publish work in his own country. Solzhenitsyn began writing the memoir in April 1967, when he was 49 years old, and added supplements in 1971, 1973, and 1974. The work was first published in Russian in 1975 under the title Бодался телёнок с дубом (lit. "A Calf Head-butting with an Oak", an ironic phrase). It has been translated into English by Harry Willetts.A second, considerably expanded edition of the Russian text was produced in 1996, by the Moscow publishing house Soglasie. This edition includes new material on the people who helped Solzhenitsyn in his literary tasks before his exile. The writer had previously called these anonymous helpers Nevidimki (the invisible ones). The new material has been translated and published in English as a separate book called Invisible Allies.The memoir contains a detailed account of the publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the author's often complex relationship with the editor-in-chief Aleksandr Tvardovsky. It also describes Solzhenitsyn's failed attempts to publish his other early novels, Cancer Ward and The First Circle, the political storm caused by his 1970 Nobel Prize for literature and his subsequent exile from the Soviet Union. Among Solzhenitsyn's more accessible works, the memoir's reception by critics was mixed. By the time of its publication, outside the Soviet Union much has already been known about the author's struggles. Consequently, some critics questioned the accuracy of Solzhenitsyn's account. Nevertheless, the book remains an essential source on the life and times of the author. Source: Wikipedia (en)


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