John Gray

Rent in the Fabric

Is God Happy? Selected Essays

By

Penguin Modern Classics 327pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

‘My Correct Views on Everything: a Rejoinder to Edward Thompson’s “Open Letter to Leszek Kołakowski”’, Leszek Kołakowski’s response to the hundred-page open letter addressed to him by the noted historian, ends with Kołakowski writing: ‘I hope to have explained to you why, for many years, I have not expected anything from attempts to mend, to renovate, to clean or to correct the communist idea.’ Published in 1974, Kołakowski’s response includes an account of the experiences of a Russian worker who had been caught trying to cross the Soviet border into Iran in the early 1960s and sentenced to six years’ hard labour in a camp. Writing in Russian in a memoir published in Germany, the worker describes the treatment meted out to three Lithuanian prisoners who tried to escape. Two were quickly caught, shot repeatedly in the legs, kicked and trampled by guards, torn by police dogs and only then stabbed to death with bayonets. Shot and believed to be dead, the third prisoner survived, only to be thrown into a cell where his festering wounds led to his arm being amputated.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,