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60 Years Ago Sholokhov Finished His Work over the Manuscript of “Virgin Soil Upturned”


M.A.Sholokhov worked over the second book of “Virgin Soil Upturned” during 1940 and the first half of 1941. However, the Great Patriotic War suspended the work for a long time, and the author finished the novel about collectivization only in February 1958.

During the bombardment of the stanitsa in July 1942 and evacuation of the writer’s archives the manuscripts of the book “Virgin Soil Upturned” were lost. The work over the novel continuation was resumed after the war, in September 1949.

In the talk with I.G.Lezhnyov, one of the first researchers in the work of M.A.Sholokhov, in the 1950s, the writer said: “I began writing the second book of “Virgin Soil Upturned” before the war and had written almost half of it.” In 1954, the chapters of the second book of the novel were published in the newspaper “Pravda” and in the journal “Ogonyok”, but Sholokhov continued improving his work. He wrote about it to E.G.Levitskaya on March 5, 1955: “The book [“Virgin Soil Upturned”– L.R.] is three-forth ready, but I still go back to the ready work to see it is not ready at all…”

A writer and critic M.Shkerin wrote in his memoirs published in 1975 that in mid-September 1958, the writer, when on a visit to Moscow at that time, told him over the phone: “I have put a full stop on the last page of “Virgin Soil Upturned”. Come round to me, I will read”. And he gave the room number in the hotel “Moskva”. On that day the writer was visited by M.Shkerin, E.Permitin, V.Sokolov and F.Shakhmagonov. We got ready to listen, but Mikhail Alexandrovich having looked through the last chapter said: “I think I won’t. Not everything has been finished yet. It needs polishing.”

That February, during his visit to Leningrad, the writer informed about his decision of publishing the second book of the novel in the “Neva” journal.

The lives of the characters of “Virgin Soil Upturned” and the events of the 1930s last century depicted by M.Sholokhov are still exciting for the readers of different life experience, education and age. The novel is still a subject of research by Sholokhov scholars thus indicating the artistic merits and deep content of the work.

Lyudmila Razogreyeva