A writer can either grow or shrink and, in times of history, surrendering to mediocrity finds easy justification in multitudinous displays of precedent. Her uncompromising realism refuses self-serving or sanitised verdicts. Her sympathetic knowledge of the Russian Revolutionary tradition strengthened her resolve throughout. Her socialism raised suffering to a higher level but she saw through to the dull, low philistinism of the Soviet Union of Stalinism and after. Her analytical and demystifying accounts of her own milieu under the most extreme pressure are uncompromising, vivid and reachy. They are truthful, analytical and psychologically insightful accounts offering neither bromide nor sensationalism. In this they astonish. Her portraits of her doomed writers are of legendary children.
Richard Marshall reviews Lidiya Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities: A Collection of Articles and New Translations .