The Big Green Tent

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A man and his wife each become collaborators, without the other knowing; an artist is chased into the woods, where he remains in hiding for four years; a researcher is forced to deem a patient insane, damning him to torture in a psychiatric ward.


Ludmila Ulitskaya's novel belongs to the tradition of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pasternak: it is a work consumed with politics, love, and belief--and a revelation of life in dark times. Samuel Goldwyn, the movie studio head, told his writers: "If you want to send a message, call Western Union.


This is a great epic novel which covers the time of Soviet era and Cold War. It takes you back in time when everyone believed in positive changes.

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Through her characters Ulitskaya shows how people lived and survived in the post WWII Soviet Union and how the system was breaking some personalities while the others either tried to leave the country to survive or had the courage to oppose the system. This book might be a good read both for those who witnessed that time and for the younger generations as well to get the idea about their parents and grandparents lives. A great book but very poor translation.

Read the Russian language version; it's much more enlightening. A worth addition to the canon of Big Russian Novels, dealing with the survival of Russian intellectuals and their culture in the postwar Soviet Union. It helps if the reader knows something about Russian history and literature, but the characters and their stories can stand on their own.

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The Big Green Tent by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

Admin Admin Admin, collapsed. Main navigation Events. Open search form. But then, in a single chapter, Ulitskaya suddenly races through decades to reveal the end of Ilya's life, while focusing primarily on an entirely different character, Olga, not seen since the prologue on the death of Stalin.

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  • Ludmila Ulitskaya.

But I had enjoyed the childhood scenes too much to give up, and persevered. Adapting to the new structure, it became clear that heavy themes notwithstanding, The Big Green Tent is curiously light — like a highbrow soap opera with its rapid pacing, its insistence on plot, its melodrama, its gossipy tone, its abundance of coincidences and its multitude of characters. In fact it is less disciplined than a soap opera as Ulitskaya bounces back and forth in time haphazardly, leaping from character to character.

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Like an oral storyteller, she frequently digresses as if she has just remembered something else that she has to tell you before returning to the "main" characters. The impression is of a prodigious act of recall: That Ulitskaya knows these people and is telling you a story about her friends from long ago. Ulitskaya also recalls a lot of literature, and to a lesser extent music. The Big Green Tent is very strong on the centrality of books to the lives of the Soviet intelligentsia. Brodsky's cameo appearance is especially odd: Referred to as "the poet" and the "master," he appears in the final chapter and his death is treated with great significance, but this is rather jarring given that he has played no role in The Big Green Tent prior to this sudden encounter with his own mortality.

The Big Green Tent: A Novel

Undisciplined, sprawling, even a bit chaotic, The Big Green Tent has its flaws. But for all that it is still a very interesting read as Ulitskaya covers with breathless gusto a period of Russian history unfamiliar to most American readers. Welcome to Loot. Checkout Your Cart Price. Description Details Customer Reviews An absorbing novel of dissident life in the Soviet Union, by one of Russia's most popular writers "The Big Green Tent" is the kind of book the term "Russian novel" was invented for.

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