Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Opyt’, - A Short Story by Yury Felsen (pen name of Nikolai Freudenstein), first published in the magazine Zveno (1927). ‘An Experiment’ translation copyright © Bryan Karetnyk, 2017.

‘Opyt’, - A Short Story by Yury Felsen (pen name of Nikolai Freudenstein), first published in the magazine Zveno (1927). ‘An Experiment’ translation copyright © Bryan Karetnyk, 2017.

Paris in July - 2021 - Hosted by Thyme for Tea

This is part of my participation in Paris in July 2021

This story is included in Russian Émirgé Short Stories from Bunin to Vanovsky - edited by Brian Karetnyk.  I highly reccomend this wonderful collection

Nikolai Berngardovich Freudenstein - real name of Yury Felsen

Born 1894 - St Petersburg, Russia 

1917 - with his Family after The October Revolution he moves to Riga, Latvia 

1923 - Settles in Paris

Dies 1943 - Auschwitz - upon arrival he was judged unfit to live and sent at once to the gas chamber - this was made possible by the cooperation of French authorities who had placed him in The Drancy concentration camp located in an eastern suburb of Paris to await being deported 

Works read so far for Paris in July 2021

  1. Lost in Paris by Elizabeth Thompson - 2021
  2. Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin - 2020
  3. Russian Émirgé Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky - edited by Bryan Karetnky. 2018 - an overview 
  4. Pancakes in Paris - Living The American Dream in France by Craig Carlson - 2016
  5. The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen- 2021
  6. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure - 2013
  7. “Requiem” - A short story by Gaito Gazdanov - 1960
  8. The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesieski - 2021
  9. Two Short Stories from the 1920s by Teffi
  10. “Dimanche” - A Short Story by Irene Nemirovsky - 1934- translated by Bridget Patterson 2015
  11. “The Life of Madame Duclos” -1927-  A Short Story by IRINA ODOEVTSEVA 

Most Russian Émigrés were sympathetic toward the attempts of White Russian  Armies to overthrow the Bolsheviks and restore a pre-revolutionary form of government.  White Russians blamed Jewish intellectuals for the fall  of the Tsar and the destruction of their privileged way of life.   There were Jews among those who left Russia for Paris.  When the Germans took over Paris most, not all French people, were fine with the removal of even French born Jews to concentration camps.

One of the things Russian Émigrés often had to cope with was the psychological impact of just getting by, struggling to survive without a secure income, a comfortable residence or servants.  .  

As today’s story open, the narrator and his journalist friend have just been picked up by a Hungarian woman and her Parisian friend.  They take them to a cafe the narrator could have afforded in his younger days, offering to pay.  He feels like a prostitute but thinks what does it matter now.  The four of them leave the cafe to go to a late night place.  They pickup a young French woman and a man.

The narrator gets bored, walks around until he encounters a Russian he knows 

“We ask each other a thousand questions. Russians have still not grown used to the fact that there are thousands of them in Paris, and they are congenial and curious about one another, like men in a barracks who hail from the same parts.”

He then takes to his apartment a Frenchman and a woman from the club.  They end up robbing him.

From the narrator I got the feeling of a man now just going through the motions of life.


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