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Birds of Heaven ePub

Birds of Heaven ePub ebook download
I readily admit not having so much as heard of Vladimir Korolenko before stumbling across this book of five collected short stories. His page on Wikipedia states that he was an opponent of the Tsarist regime in his early years and also of the Bolsheviks in his later years, and that wisdom and rejection of all things worth rejecting certainly shines through in 'Birds of Heaven'.

The first two stories are by far the longest. In the title piece, an unnamed narrator decides to follow the wanderings of a rascal pretending to be a monk and his slavish young follower, a couple of 'dark and hopelessly ruined lives'.

'Isn't It Terrible (From the Diary of a Reporter)' follows the rambling narrative of a teacher on a train, who tells a very Russian tale of masters, surfs and rogues which ends up in tragedy, but the clever ending makes you think twice about the whole story and its teller.

'Necessity' (An Eastern Tale) has two Brahmins searching for Nirvana come across an ancient, dilapidated temple with a black idol proclaiming "I am Necessity. the mistress of every movement". Both Brahmins attempt to find truth in contemplating this.

The two final short stories are very short indeed, but just as good. 'On the Volga' shows how the old feel they understand the mystery of god, while the young have a habit of proving that it must remain a mystery.

'The Village of God' (A Sketch From a Traveler's Notebook) is the bloody story of a miniature town near Azramas, a place which used to be on the border and revolted against Peter the Great, only to be mercilessly slaughtered on 'wheel and stake'.

These stories were written near the end of the 19th century, after the twin influences of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, realist in style but with something more mystical pervading them like a soft camera lens. This effect doesn't weaken them though, far from it.

I will certainly be looking to read more by Korolenko in future.
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