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News

The 85th Publication Anniversary of the Short Story “the Birthmark” by M.A. Sholokhov

14.12.2009

It has been 85 years since the first work of fiction by M.A. Sholokhov, a story “The Birthmark”, was published. The short story was printed in the newspaper of the Moscow Young Communist League members “Molodoy Leninets” on the 14th of December, 1924. Later, with his story “The Birthmark” Sholokhov opened his first book “The Don Stories”.

The first story was based on the events of the Civil War on the Upper Don. Young Sholokhov witnessed the ancient Cossack traditions ruining, brothers, fathers and sons becoming enemies.

The main personages of the story, an 18-years-old cavalry squadron commander Nikolka and his father, the ataman of the gang, are knocked out of the habitual way of life, exhausted by the cruel war. Nikolka is thinking bitterly: “Blood again, but I have been tired to live such a life… I’m sick to death of everything”. The ataman is not fond of his life either: “His soul has become hardened like on hot summer day bull hoofprints harden near the drying steppe lake”. Each of them searches for his truth of life, but it’s impossible to find it in enmity, where everything is permeated with hatred. They both find death.

The birthmark is not only a sign by which the ataman recognizes his son killed by him, but it is a symbol of their bygone unity, a kindred of people who have become irreconcilable enemies.

In this story as well as in others, included later into a book of collected stories, M.A. Sholokhov expressed his attitude towards the war, which became a tragedy of all the people, which caused irreplaceable losses and crippled the souls.

In the preface to the book “the Don Stories” which is published in 1926, A. Serafimovich writes: “Easy, vivid, palpable narration, - the scene is vivid before your eyes. The language is figurative, the one the Cossacks speak. Concisely, and this conciseness is full of life, strain and truth. A good sense of proportion in acute moments, and that is why they pierce. A great knowledge of what he is telling about. A keen grasping eye. A skill of choosing the most characteristic features among many others”.

Based on the short story “The Birthmark” in 1964 the film director Vladimir Fetin shot the film “The Don Story”.

O. Bakhtiyarova