Varlam Shalamov

Poems by Varlam Shalamov

Shalamov studied law for three years at Moscow University, but his studies were interrupted when he was arrested in 1929 and sentenced to five years in a work camp. After serving his full sentence he managed to publish a few poems and stories in the 1930s. In 1937 he was arrested again and spent seventeen more years in the Kolyma gulag. After political rehabilitation, he published poems in leading journals — Moskva, Znamya, and Yunost' — in 1957. His first collection of poems, Ognivo (Flint Steel), came out in 1961.

While his poetry reflects the bitter nature of his life experiences, his prose accounts of the gulag, Kolymskje rasskazy (Kolyma Stories), are doubtless his true claim to fame. They are stark, unadorned, monumental documents of Stalin's terror. During his lifetime this book was published primarily abroad. Only after his death (alone in an old-age home) was it returned to his homeland.

As a poet, Shalamov was a trained classicist, but as a prose writer he elevated himself to spiritual heights, writing from the depths of hell.

1949

1950

1952

1954

1955

1957

1961

1966

1981

in french

Varlam Chalamov, des poèmes (français)

1951

1957

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