Warlam Schalamow: Über die Kolyma. Erinnerungen
[About the Kolyma. Memoirs]
Translated from Russian by Gabriele Leupold, edited and with an epilogue by Franziska Thun-Hohenstein.
Über die Kolyma gathers autobiographical texts of the Russian writer Varlam Shalamov. In contrast to his main work Erzählungen aus Kolyma, he writes here about himself recognizably and without exaggeration into the symbolic. As far as his memory allowed it, or he considered it appropriate, Shalamov reconstructed what had happened to him during his fourteen years in the camps of the Kolyma region (1937–1951). From his own experiences he took a new, frightening knowledge about the abysses of human beings, about “the law of decay” as well as about “the law of resistance against decay.” Decades later, he tested this knowledge on himself, questioning his memory. The texts translated here for the first time allow the reader to participate directly in what Shalamov experienced in the camps and show his struggle for self-knowledge.