Wednesday, 28 September 2016


The novel ‘Sashenka’ written by Simon Sebag Montefiore presents a century in Russia, by following the life of a dedicated Bolshevik revolutionary – Sashenka. The novel is split into 3 parts, with the first part focusing on the lead up to the March revolution. Montefiore’s presentation of Russian autocracy is shown through Sashenka’s mother Ariadna Zeletsin. Her unfaithful behaviour, dismissive interest in her daughter, and obsession with materialistic luxuries leads the reader to understand Sashenka’s dedication to the Bolshevik party, as she tries to escape from her mother’s lifestyle. Montefiore presents the Bolsheviks at first as a lacking party, with little resources and members, yet with a strong belief and dedication, shown through Sashenka’s uncle Mendel. Yet during Part 2 1939, the once small Bolshevik party had become an authoritative, dominant one party state, the extent of its growth shown to the reader through leap in time from 1917. Sashenka’s dedication and love for the party is still prevalent, yet her fear is for it is subtly hinted at, with the repeated mentions of the ‘terror years’. The absolute security of Communism in the USSR is demonstrated in the novel – ‘better to shoot a hundred innocent men than let one spy escape, better 1000’. Part 3 of the novel shows the loyalty towards Communism from its party members. Vanya Palitsyn, after being tortured into a false confession and sentenced to death still demonstrates his devotion, shouting ‘long live Stalin’, despite his treatment from the party. Montefiore describes Communism as a religion, and its influence on members such as Satinov shows how deeply rooted it is within such people. Satinov’s inability to tell Katrinka of how he rescued Sashenka’s children outright, since it was a betrayal to the party, shows his faithfulness and fear towards Communism, even 50years later. His web of deception and lies told towards Katrinka of his actions reflect the way he behaved during the era, and how the Communist party performed and acted in the USSR. YC

No comments:

Post a Comment