In the Past Night: The Siberian Stories

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Texas Tech University Press, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 221 pages
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Dmitry Stonov was already a well-known Russian writer when sentenced to a Siberian work camp in 1949. Denied all writing materials, he had to develop and memorize his stories at night. During the day, allowed to work in a library "in the freedom", Stonov removed the tobacco from his cigarettes and recorded these stories in a miniscule script on the papers. These he managed to smuggle to his family. Terrified that discovery of the stories would lead to Stonov's death, his wife and son hid the papers in a glass jar and buried them, hoping for his return. In 1954, after five years in a Siberian camp, Stonov was released and set about transcribing his manuscript from the cigarette papers into a notebook. Upon Dmitry Stonov's death in 1962, the stories were concealed again for more than a quarter century. When Stonov's son Leonid and Leonid's wife Natasha finally won their freedom in 1990, they brought this remarkable collection with them to the United States. It is published here for the first time in English. In the Past Night brings gripping clarity not only to prison life, but also those imprisoning aspects that pervaded every level of Russian society - fear, betrayal, loneliness, the death of hope. Yet, Stonov's simple, lyrical compassion throughout allows the reader to glimpse the transcending human spirit.

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