In the history of Soviet literature, Ilya Ehrenburg is definitely a name that cannot be avoided. He is both the opener of an era and the end of an era. Among all his literary creations, the most famous novel “Thaw” seems to have a social value far beyond its literary value – giving a specific political and cultural period the name that has since been recorded in history – “The Age of Thawing” . His other novels and poems were gradually forgotten due to the smoke and dust of history, but his multi-volume memoir “People·Time·Life” has truly experienced the test of people, time and life, and is still popular with readers all over the world. The love of it has become an enduring masterpiece handed down from generation to generation.
Ehrenburg is one of the most dazzling phenomena in Russian-Soviet and world culture in the twentieth century. He was lucky—one of the few Russian and Soviet writers of the twentieth century who was able to receive attention during his lifetime and still be sought after in the post-Soviet era; he was complicated—firmly opposed to anti-Semitism, and firmly Defending their identity as Russian intellectuals, appealing to Jews to love Russia because they “accepted everything good and bad from Russia”, they have no other motherland but Russia, “the fate of the Jews is not to be deported … but to assimilated in their own country”; he was also modern—Zamyatin commented that he “is one of the most modern writers of all Russian writers, even domestic and foreign. It can also be said that he is no longer a Russian writer. , but a European writer”. He has a life experience that cannot be matched by his contemporaries, and he also has a creative experience that has accompanied his entire life. These have become unparalleled rich materials for the memoir “People, Years, and Life”.
Ehrenburg’s titles and honors are many: he is a Soviet writer, poet, French and Spanish translator, revolutionary, historian, journalist, photographer and social activist. Ehrenburg’s growth and experience accompanied the development of the magnificent and intricate history of Russia and the Soviet Union from the end of the 19th century to the 1960s. Every important decision and every turning point of his life corresponded to the major turning points of the country and the times. , it can be said that he is a person who has always stood at the forefront of the times, even a person who predicted the times; he has lived out unimaginable wantonness and splendor in various limitations and hardships, and some even commented that his life itself It is poetry.
Ehrenburg was born in Kiev, Ukraine, on January 14, 1891, into a Jewish family. In 1895 Ehrenburg’s family moved to Moscow, where he managed to be placed in one of the best schools in the ancient capital, the Moscow No. 1 Gymnasium. This period of adolescence formed the spiritual foundation for Ehrenburg’s later life: he was both strongly influenced by the daily life and culture of the capital, and he maintained the lineage of his ancestors by returning to the Jewish environment of his grandfather’s house in Kiev every summer. In addition, his mother, who regularly went to Germany for medical treatment, often took him with him, so that he could greedily absorb the completely different Western European atmosphere. Under the influence of the three cultural worlds of Russia, Judaism and Western Europe, Ehrenburg became a cosmopolitan and a rebel.
Also in middle school, Ehrenburg met Nikolai Bukharin and Leo Tolstoy. The young Ehrenburg later joined the Bolshevik Party. In 1908, he was arrested by the Tsar’s secret police and spent five months in prison. After being released on bail, he went to France alone. Since then, Paris has become his favorite city.
Ehrenburg, who was in Paris, soon turned away from politics, became interested in literature, and began to write poetry. Ehrenburg’s first poem, “I Come to You,” was published in the magazine “Northern Dawn” in early 1910. Six months later, his first collection of poems was published in Paris. Afterwards, he published new collections of poems almost every year. He also works as a translator of French and Spanish poetry. His literary taste and preferences were deeply influenced by the Paris Baume & Mercier School. He also went to the cafe in Montparnasse regularly and met many avant-garde painters, musicians and writers. Celebrities in the literary and artistic circles.
During World War I, Ehrenburg began to dabble in journalism, serving as a correspondent for the Moscow Morning News and the Petrograd Market Izvestia, and published dozens of essays, reviews, and newsletters as a war correspondent. In 1917, Ehrenburg returned to Moscow, and then to Kiev, where he actively participated in the literary and artistic circles. In 1921, he left his homeland again for the so-called “art travel”. Since then, he has become a cultural activist and journalist in the Soviet Union. , living abroad for a long time as a writer.
Ehrenburg, who came to Western Europe again, tried novel writing for the first time. In 1921, Ehrenburg’s first novel “The Adventures of Julio Jullenido and His Disciples” won him worldwide fame, and since then he has published novels almost every year. He will also publish a book of essays on his travels in Europe. Because he was friends with many leftists in Europe, Ehrenburg was often allowed to visit Europe to carry out peace and socialist movements. At the end of 1936, he came to Spain as a war correspondent for the Soviet “Izvestia” and was able to witness the Spanish Civil War from beginning to end. One, whose articles have been reprinted by the most authoritative publications in many countries. Ehrenburg had already made a name for himself as a journalist during World War II. His newsletters were not only published in Soviet newspapers, but also reprinted by newspapers of various countries. After the war, Ehrenburg began to publish novels again, and Thaw, published in 1954, was his last novel. Although “Thaw” has been criticized by many critics for its literary techniques, its important role in the awakening of social consciousness has been widely recognized. The term “Thaw” has been used by sociologists around the world to refer to the new developments that the Soviet Union entered. period, and continues to today, more than half a century later. Beginning in 1960, Ehrenburg successively published the last work in his life, which also marked the peak of his creation——”People·Time·Life”. In his later years, Ehrenburg fell seriously ill and died of myocardial infarction on August 31, 1967. Shortly before his death, Ehrenburg wrote: “I am a Russian writer . . . a book can also fight for peace, for happiness . …as long as your heart is beating – you should love with passion, with the blindness of youth, defend what you hold dear, fight, work, live – live as long as your heart is beat……”
The creation, release and publication of the seven volumes of “People, Years, and Life” has gone through a long and tortuous process, which lasted from the end of the 1950s to the eve of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 1958, Ehrenburg began writing his autobiography. In April 1960, Ehrenburg submitted the manuscript of the first volume of his memoirs to the large literary journal “New World” under the leadership of the famous writer Alexander Tvardowski. Amid the voices of questioning and criticism, as well as dealing with and struggling with book censors, the persistent struggle for the publication of a chapter and a volume of memoirs began. Because of the variety of political and literary figures and events involved in the memoir, and because of Ehrenburg’s anachronistic attitude, printing was stopped again and again. To this end, he wrote eight letters to Khrushchev between 1960 and 1964. After several twists and turns in the publication of the sixth volume in 1965, Ehrenburg devoted himself to the writing of the seventh volume in 1966 until his death. Years later, in 1987, parts of Volume VII were published in the journal Spark. With the official publication of the full text of the seventh volume in 1990, readers can finally see the whole picture of “People·Time·Life”.
Throughout his life, Ehrenburg used his rich creations and extensive social, cultural, and diplomatic activities to open the windows of Russia and the Soviet Union to Europe and the world. The long memoir “People, Years, and Life” records his realization of this goal. The best proof of life’s mission. Although Ehrenburg confessed that he “did not intend to write a history of the times … this is not a chronicle, but a confession”, but he started the reader from the end of the nineteenth century to the sixties of the twentieth century. It is the most vivid picture scroll of the world, especially the magnificent picture of the cultural, social, political and military life of Russia, the Soviet Union and European countries in the first half of the 20th century; Scenery: “Readers may be surprised and even annoyed that I have written so briefly the most important years in world history and my life, but I preface this by saying that I have no intention of meddling in the work of chroniclers. I take the title of this book this way: People and years—it’s life, it’s my life, one of many lives.” Yes, Ehrenburg doesn’t want to be a mere recorder of the times, he wants to reflect a person’s search, confusion and gains. Behind the seemingly inconspicuous plots in his writings there is more room for thinking than the well-known historical events: “I It is not the characteristics of a nation that is constantly suffering, but the characteristics of time…” This is actually trying to understand and reconstruct the image of an era from scattered and sometimes irrelevant memory fragments, and to convey a The soul of the times. The times affect everyone’s life, or in other words, everyone’s life is shaping the times. Accompanied by Ehrenburg’s personal life course tracing back and extending step by step, readers get acquainted closely with the glittering masters of literature and art and the political dignitaries who influence the world wherever he sees and walks. Countless literary secrets and political inside stories. His extraordinary social skills, witty and flexible way of dealing with things, and his wise and forward-looking assessment of the situation have helped him avoid all kinds of difficulties and win opportunities to display his talents and ambitions. , and outlines a series of expressive sketches of influential figures and common people.
Ehrenburg survived two revolutions and three wars (including two world wars), visited dozens of countries, and had more or less contacts with celebrities from all walks of life in various countries. He looks back on the past with passionate and poetic eyes, and portrays those outstanding contemporaries with ease and style. He talked about Lenin’s close contact with him, about the famous Italian painter Modigliani always reading him some verses from “Religious Comedy”, about the Mexican painter Diego Rivera’s medical treatment in Moscow During the interview with him, he talked about Picasso sketching his portrait. When he was surprised by the short time of painting, Picasso laughed and said: “But I have known you for forty years…” In Ehrenburg’s works, some characters It is the center of the narrative of the entire chapter, and some characters are only summarized in one paragraph or even in one sentence. He only uses a few strokes or ignores the appearance of the characters, and the focus is not on conveying the daily details and superficial characteristics of the characters, but on explaining the past and future of the characters in the narration of events, and revealing the inner characteristics of these famous people—this work That’s the beauty of the memoir. It comes close to being characteristic of the avant-garde paintings of the first half of the twentieth century that were most beloved by Ehrenburg, who admired Picasso’s ability to capture the essence: “All of Picasso’s portraits reveal (and sometimes expose) the inner world of their models .” This also became the writing principle of Ehrenburg’s memoirs.
Honesty is another of Ehrenburg’s principles: “I promise myself that I will never invent anything in this book, even if an organized idea would appear more realistic than a messy reality.” The core task of the work, for which he tries to avoid pretentiousness of words, but uses actual materials to help the external depiction of characters, and only carries out artistic processing within the internal framework. Of course, the memoir has been criticized on two fronts—conservatives and those who want to see “the whole truth” in it (Ehrenburg has defended himself by saying that readers can learn at least part of the truth from the book). There are also critics who think that Ehrenburg in the memoirs seems to have no flaws and is always calm, but if you go deep into the lines of the memoirs and read carefully, you can still feel his desolation and helplessness: “I have long been accustomed to various losses. But I still can’t get rid of the heavy heart.” “I don’t remember in which small city that was burnt out, I suddenly begged a little girl with thin pigtails in despair: ‘Don’t cry, or I’m going to cry too…'”
”People · Years · Life” is not so much a recollection of Ehrenburg’s life course, but rather a recounting of the thinking triggered by this memory. In the last volume of memoirs, when the past is the closest to reality, and it can be said that it is recording life at the same time, Ehrenburg reflects more on the not-too-distant history, for the things he cherishes in life and art. Defending, worrying, and persevering, the author’s emotions also lack consternation, joy, or resentment, and tend to be calm and stable as a whole: “Many pages of this book are written under the auspices of love. I love life, Regarding the past life and experience, I neither regret nor regret. What I feel sad is that I have not finished many things, many things have not been written, I have not suffered enough, and I have not given more love. But Such is the law of nature: the audience has hurried to the dressing-room, while the protagonists are still on the stage crying: ‘Tomorrow I…’ What will be tomorrow? Another play and other protagonists.”