Cover Osteuropa 6/2007

In Osteuropa 6/2007

A Trace, a Document, a Prothesis
Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales

Luba Jurgenson

Deutsche Fassung


Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales are a struggle against forgetting. They seek to leave a trace of memory where every memory of the camp has been wiped out. Furthermore, they address the difficulty of imparting to others the camp experience. The author’s body, which enables him to document the validity of his words, is not entitled to do so: It is a completely different body than the one which endured the camp. Like Primo Levi, Shalamov resorts to the ambivalent metaphor of the prosthesis. On the one hand, memory is a “prosthesis” of experience; on the other hand, the maimed body could not speak without the prosthesis.

(Osteuropa 6/2007, pp. 169–194)