Saturday, June 11, 2011

Swimming in Cement: Sholokhov

A monument of a herd of horses followed by the writer Sholokhov in his boat crossing a river made of cement celebrating the legacy of writer on Gogolevsky Boulevard, Moscow, Russia. Mikhail Sholokhov is known all over the world as the author of the novel “And Quiet Flows the Don”, perhaps the most widely read book of Soviet fiction. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for it. The monument was inaugurated on the 24th of May 2007, on the author's 102nd birthday anniversary. The complicated sculpture was created by Russian national artist - Alexander Rukavishnikov*; the architect, member of the International Architectural Academy - Igor Voskresensky, and sculptors Iulian and Philip Rukavishnikov. The author is depicted sitting in the fishing boat. At the background of the composition there is a high relief that depicts the flow of the imaginary river, horses are swimming in two different directions into eternity, symbolizing the split of the Motherland, “the white” and “the red”, during the Civil War.

Perhaps the greatest feud of Soviet literary history involved Sholokhov and Aleksandr Solzhenitzsyn, who despised one another. Sholokhov wrote a scathing review of Solzhenitzsyn's work, and Solzhenitzsyn accused Sholokhov of plagiarism. (The plagiarism charge was ultimately proven to be false.) Many Moscow residents dislike the monument intensely--Sholokhov had nothing to do with Moscow, they say, and should not be memorialized in the city--certainly not on the street named Gogol Boulevard, The underlying issue seems to be that he's a Soviet author, and these latter days are a problematic time for monuments to Soviet authors.

      *The sculptor, Alexander Rukavishnikov,  is known as the creator of the monument to Fyodor Dostoevsky set up in front of the Russian State Library, and the monument to Yury Nikulin in Tsvetnoy Boulevard.