And Quiet Flows the Don -- real author?
March 16, 2013 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a specific article that claimed that Mikhail Sholokov did not write And Quiet Flows the Don (or at least not the first and best part of it), but instead he plagiarized it.

As I understand it, it is a fairly common theory that Sholokov stole the first part of And Quiet Flows the Don from the writings of an army office, and the fact that the rest of the novel is not nearly as good is because he was actually writing the rest of it.

However, I'm looking for a *specific* article that presents that theory. It'd probably be at least ten years old and prominent enough that I would have come across it published (ie, printed) somewhere.

Is there a canonical (so to speak) article that presents this theory -- the article the sets the idea all forth?

Or, alternatively, I think it's very likely that this was published in The New Republic -- not necessarily by James Wood but perhaps by a writer who is as forceful and convincing as Wood! Unfortunately, I think I can't search The New Republic's archives if I'm not a current subscriber.
posted by lewedswiver to Writing & Language (1 answer total)
I don't think there's a single prominent article of the kind you're talking about; rather, there's been a great deal of discussion of the issue ever since the book came out. For everyone except crackpots, the issue was finally settled by the discovery of his manuscripts, which had been thought lost for decades; Michael Scammell wrote about it in the New York Times in 1998:
Rumors of plagiarism surfaced almost immediately. Sholokhov was alleged to have stolen a manuscript from the map case of a dead White Army officer -- hence the improbably sympathetic portrait of the Whites from the pen of a Communist. A literary commission rejected the charges, but they surfaced again in the 1930's, in the 60's (after Sholokhov's Nobel Prize in Literature) and with renewed force in the 70's. By then there was a candidate for authorship: a White Cossack officer and writer, Fyodor Kryukov. Critics claimed to find both his voice and Sholokhov's in the novel. Detailed comparisons of the two men's work and biographies indicated a large number of discrepancies, however, and the coup de grace to the Kryukov theory was administered by a 1982 computer study demonstrating fairly conclusively that Kryukov could not have written a major portion of ''The Quiet Don.'' [...]

Then, in 1991, the journalist Lev Kolodny astonished the Russian literary world by announcing that he had found the manuscripts of Volumes 1 and 2 — those most in dispute — in a house in Moscow. In 1995 he published a thrilling account of his search for them, and a description of the manuscripts. They were indisputably in Sholokhov's hand, with authorial deletions and emendations, and their dates coincided exactly with the known facts of Sholokhov's early life.
There's a detailed discussion of the issue in Chapter V of Herman Ermolaev's Mikhail Sholokhov and His Art (Princeton University Press, 1982), written before the discovery of the MSS but convincing in its refutation of the plagiarism theory. I can give you references in Russian if you're interested.
posted by languagehat at 12:21 PM on March 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

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