Read The Compromise: A Novel by Sergei Dovlatov Online


Weary of his battles with the bureaucracy, with the bottle, and with his profession, an unemployed Soviet journalist reviews his file of clippings and recalls the real people and events now reduced to bland, officially approved lines...

Title : The Compromise: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0394528557
ISBN13 : 978-0394528557
Format Type : Other Book
Language : Englisch, Russisch
Publisher : Alfred a Knopf Inc 1 September 1983
Number of Pages : 464 Pages
File Size : 975 KB
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Compromise: A Novel Reviews

  • J. Sesta
    2019-04-28 23:11

    An easy but thought provoking read, this book contains short stories of Sergei Dovlatov's true experiences with journalistic manipulation in the Soviet Union. This book will keep you laughing, and also make you wonder if newspapers are as accurate as you once believed.

  • Voltaire
    2019-05-11 06:10

    Living as a Russian journalist in Soviet Estonia, Dovlatov captures the cynicism, emptiness, irony, isolation, careerism, and dissonance of late Soviet communism. It is a work of powerful literary force and profound human awareness.

  • Customer
    2019-04-27 00:05

    Funny account of a humorous journalist during communism in E Europe.

  • Voltaire
    2019-04-27 22:53

    Living as a Russian journalist in Soviet Estonia, Dovlatov captures the cynicism, emptiness, irony, isolation, careerism, and dissonance of late Soviet communism. It is a work of powerful literary force and profound human awareness.

  • Satisfied
    2019-05-15 00:50

    As advertised

  • working_mother
    2019-05-18 05:03

    I bought three copies to give as presents. Therefore, it did matter that two of the copies had small damages that disqualified them. I have to find something else on short "notice". So, while the book is full of humor and much fun, I wish they knew what people who buy a NEW book expect.

  • Maha Khashan
    2019-04-30 01:59

    Sergei Dovlatov's The Compromise is set in Brezhnev-era Soviet Talinn, where, among other equally and even more absurd things, it was decided that "the four-hundredth-thousandth inhabitant of Talinn" would be born on the eve of a jubilee marking the anniversary of the city's liberation. This child would not only be born happy, but would even be "condemned to happiness" (p.27). The contradiction in terms between condemnation and happiness is lost on the Soviet news architects who will spare no expense in their ostentatious displays of pseudo-national pride and feigned socialist fulfillment. In addition to spotlighting official propagandist policies, The Compromise captures an important trend in the USSR under Brezhnev: the decay of ideological fervor among the population and the emergence of widespread cynicism and stoicism that people rely on to navigate the exigencies of an increasingly absurd everyday life.The Soviet Union was notorious for its reliance on propaganda. Typically, official propaganda masks deep-seeted paranoia on the part of the ruling elite. It is part of a concerted effort to create a national myth. Under Brezhnev, the Soviet Union struggled to form an identity. It found itself torn between a reality that was completely undesirable and a fantastic view of itself that was utterly untenable. This illusion of identity was advanced through propaganda. There was a partial rehabilitation of Stalin in the Brezhnev era. The characters' outright cynicism reflects the easing of controls under Brezhnev compared to those that had existed under Stalin. While this partial rehabilitation of Stalin did not involve a return to purges, it did become more difficult to publish works that could anyway be construed as disapproving of the regime. The corollary of that, of course, is the publication of works that flatter the regime. This is what Dovlatov was tasked with.Dovlatov, the narrator, is a newspaper journalist who does not read newspapers out of "simple hostility to the official side of newspaper work" (p. 11). In his work, he must balance reporting actual facts with fluff aimed at promoting the official party line--with the balance tipped more to the latter. Typically this involved a complete repudiation of reality. His work exacts a heavy toll: he is an alcoholic. Dovlatov has no romantic notions about the value of his work. He realizes that he is peddling lies, but continues in his line of work to make money that he generally spends on alcohol and fast women. Through it all, he "had to concentrate. Otherwise the contours of reality might become hopelessly lost" (p.31). He is deeply aware that most of his readers know very well that what they read in the newspapers are lies: "in general, no matter what the press comes up with, it's hard to surprise the average reader. He's used to everything" (p.32).The narrator's cynicism is not unique. Cynicism, which began to emerge in the open in the early 1970s over the Soviet system's inability to provide its citizens with the conditions for meaningful lives, is this novella's overarching motif. As with the characters in The Compromise, cynicism and its accompanying pessimism did not necessarily translate into open political dissidence. The citizenry's morale, however, was not particularly conducive to the formation of a vibrant civic societySelection of the 400,000th inhabitant of Tallin reflects the degree to which reality was engineered. By fiat, the baby had to meet certain physical, national and religious standards. A half-Ethiopian baby was rejected on account of his skin color, even though the father was from an allied country. The Jewish baby of esteemed citizens, active in the affairs of the state was likewise rejected on account of his religion, leading the father to observe that: "anti-Semitism really does exist, doesn't it?". Try as it did, the Soviet establishment could not move past the burden of nationalities, many of which it inadvertently created. Neither the half-black (or chocolate, as they put it), nor the Jewish babies would do for the purposes of the story. The baby had to fit a specific national and religious mold, even in a country that was avowedly secular. Brezhnev had conceded the USSR's backwardness, but only to suggest that the country could leap past capitalism in its development. Stories like these illustrate vividly that the Soviet Union was unwilling to commit itself to the heralded ideals of socialism. National, ethnic and religious considerations continued to trump ideological ones.In the midst of the unabated assault on reason and the human soul, everyday life goes on, as it invariably must. People learn to strike a balance. They juggle censors, ideology and propaganda with the more mundane elements of human life, specifically: sex, alcohol and gambling. Brezhnev-era Soviet Russia was a country searching desperately for a soul. When it did not find one, it tried to create the illusion of one. Ultimately, it could not sustain that illusion.It is difficult for life to flourish when all its minute details are orchestrated, particularly in the arts. Writing as an art and an expression of human emotion, but in the Soviet Union, even human emotions are choreographed. Journalists are supposed to be the purveyors of truth and are a sine qua non for civil society. When civic virtue is extracted from their job and they become mere tools of a regime trying desperately to create a national identity, the state ceases to be a nation. On the last page of The Compromise, Dovlotov's cousin, a convicted murder chastises him, saying: "All I did was kill a man..and try to burn his body. But you!" killing reality, rewriting history, unforgivable, even in the eyes of a murderer. The Compromise is a bitter denunciation of the assault on art and intellectual life in Soviet Russia and the accompanying cynicism they helped breed. It is a sublime portrayal of the absurdity of life under a regime committed only to its survival behind a mask of faux ideology and a population's heart-breaking quest to find "What kind of people are we [it is] anyway?"