The Damned and the Dead
The Eastern Front through the Eyes of Soviet and Russian Novelists
University Press of Kansas 2011
Frank Ellis’ The Damned and the Dead: The Eastern Front through the Eyes of Soviet and Russian Novelists (University Press of Kansas, 2011) introduces to English-language readers the riches of Soviet war literature and argues that much of that literature constituted a meaningful form of resistance to the Soviet state. Refusing to write stories that corresponded to the mythology of the Soviet soldier-hero, authors such as Vasilii Grossman, Iurii Bondarev, or Vasil’ Bykov provided true insights into the Soviet war effort, including the bungling of the leadership, the deprivations suffered by the soldiers, and the stifling effect of ideological surveillance.
This wide-ranging interview also touches upon some of Ellis’ other interests and should excite listeners to track down some of the few Soviet war novels available in English. I know that the work mentioned in Ellis’ title, The Damned and the Dead, by Viktor Astaf’ev is on my reading list.