Georgy Demidov’s Gulag stories were published belatedly, in the new millennium, and have acted as a timely reminder of the suffering and death of great numbers of innocent people in the camps. This article attempts to explain the literary qualities of Demidov’s Kolyma stories as well as the way in which, despite their fictionalized plots, they can be read as works of testimony. Comparing Demidov’s narrative techniques with those of his contemporaries, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Varlam Shalamov, whom the sad history of the manuscripts had turned into his precursors, I focus on the significance of Demidov’s choice of extraordinary rather than typical characters and plots, his ample use of narrative commentary, and his gearing up narrative time to cognitive rather than experiential response of the audience. Judging by an implicitly autodescriptive touch in a story devoted to an artist who perished in the camps, the use of fictionalization in attesting to camp experience was not a calculated choice on Demidov’s part but a genuine product of the workings of his literary imagination.


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pp. 299-318
Launched on MUSE
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