John Bayley

Fools and Wise in Russia

Institute of Fools


Gollancz 224pp £7.95 order from our bookshop

Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky: A Study in the Polyphonic Novel


George Prior 217pp £10 order from our bookshop

Stories, Volume IV: 1888–1889


Oxford University Press 287pp £14 order from our bookshop

Why did the calf butt the oak? No doubt, for a few very special calves, it is in their nature, and thank goodness for the rest of us in the herd that it should be so. Solzhenitsyn is not only a very great writer, but a man whose stand against the regime is unique in the history of great writers anywhere, particularly in Russia. Solzhenitsyn has always been very attached to Russian proverbs, and in The Oak and the Calf gives us a good many of them, such as ‘If trouble comes make use of it too’. That he has certainly done. And kept an account of the trouble in the minutest detail. As a record it is of the highest importance, but for the common reader the perusal is often fatiguing. The reason is partly the provenance of the book, which was written from day to day, under the table, in the years before Solzhenitsyn’s exile from Russia, with the KGB breathing down his neck and with no safe place for papers.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Terrifyingly I'm already at work (ha!) making the April issue. Feel like the March number came out but seconds ago.… ,
    • Charles I: King & Collector is until 15 April: Here's assistant editor Davi… ,
    • "Ivor Novello installed a mirrored bedroom in his apartment over the Strand Theatre ... with furniture veneered in… ,
    • Our 'footprints' series has writers talking about place and inspiration. This month it's Donald Rayfield on Dostoev… ,
    • RT : ‘Meticulously documented, full of drama … complex and compelling … this is a tale fluently told, and a thriller as… ,
    • There's still time to enter: win a brace of tickets to see the new West End production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Hu… ,
    • "For Jane Austen, ‘abroad’ was Lyme Regis. What if the author, celebrated on postage stamp and banknote, had ‘seen… ,