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«THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO Also by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn The Nobel Lecture on Literature August 1914 A Lenten Letter to Pimen, Patriarch of All Russia ...»

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One of the important aspects of Solzhenitsyn as a Russian literary figure is his contribution to the revival and expansion of the Russian literary language through introducing readers in his own country (and abroad) to the language, terminology, and slang of camps, prisons, the police, and the underworld. Millions of Soviet citizens became fully familiar with a whole new vocabulary through imprisonment. But this vocabulary did not find its way into Russian literature until Solzhenitsyn put it there-to the bewilderment of some of the uninitiated.

In this category there are terms in this book which require explanation.

Soviet Security services personnel, for example, are referred to in a variety of special epithets, some of them carrying overtones of contempt. Most of these have been manufactured from· the various initials, at one time and another, of the basic Soviet secret

police organization:

The oldest of these terms is, of course, "Chekfst"-pronounced "Che-keest," with the accent on the last syllable-from "Cheka."

Though the name "Cheka" was replaced more than half a century ago, this label for Soviet Security personnel is still used-and is much beloved by the personnel of the Organs themselves.

I 618 TRANSLATOR'S NOTES "Gaybist," which is pronounced "gay-beest," with the accent on the last syllable, is derived from the letters "g" and "b" standing for State Security.

Likewise "GayMshnik"-pronounced "gay-besh-neek," with the accent on the second syllable.

"Emvaydeshnik"-pronounced as it is spelled here, with the accent on the third syllable-is derived similarly from the Russian pronunciation of the letters "M" "V" "D"-for Ministry of Internal Affairs.

"Gaypayooshnik"-accent also on the third syllable-comes from "G" "P" "u" or "Gaypayoo."

"Osobist"-pronounced "oh-so-beest," with accent on the last syllable-is an officer of the Special Branch, representing State Security, usually in a military unit-the "Os6by Otdel."

All these terms have their pungent flavor, which comes through even to the English-speaking reader-and they have therefore often been used as is in the text of this translation.

In the Gulag world there was one particular type of police official who had special significance. This was the "operupolnomochenny"-"oper" for short. Literally rendered, this title means "operations plenipotentiary"-the operations being Security operations, often in a forced-labor camp, where he had enormous power deriving from the fact that he represented State Security in an institution under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. His nickname among the prisoners was "Kum," which can be translated approximately as "godfather" or "father confessor." He was in charge of all camp stool pigeons and he had responsibility for the political supervision of all the prisoners. Throughout this work his title has been translated as "Security operations officer" or more usually just "Security officer," or "Security chief."

The Russian thieves are not just plain ordinary thieves, but constitute a whole underworld subculture which gets much attention and is well described in this book. The Russian thieves are "vory"-meaning thieves. They are also the "blatnye" (plural);

"blatnoi" is the masculine singular form and also the adjective, describing a thing or person attached to the underworld or to the law or companionship of thieves.

The Russian thieves are also the "blatari" and the "urki."

They are also "tsvetnye"-in other words "colored." And a Translator's Notes 619 person "polutsvetn6i"-"half-colored" or "mulatto"-is a nonthief who has begun to take up the ways of the thieves.

By and large, to the extent that these and other terms appear in their original form in this translation they are clearly enough explained. But wherever the word "thief" appears it means one of the "blatnYe."

The language of the Russian thieves is used in this work to refer to much more than themselves.

Thus a nonthief in thief language is a "frayer." By virtue of being a nonthief he is also naturally "a mark," "a cull," "a pigeon," "an innocent," "a sucker." In this translation, "fniyer" has been rendered throughout as "sucker."

Some other terms that relate to the world of Gulag require

special explanation:

At times in the text "ugoI6vniki" (which we have translated as "habitual criminals") and "bytoviki" (which we have translated as "nonpolitical offenders") have been grouped together in contrast to the political prisoners.

A "bytovik" is any prisoner who is not a political nor one of the Russian thieves-and the "bytoviki" or "nonpolitical offenders" make up the enormous main mass of the prisoners. The distinction here is just as much psychological as legal, and in English there. is nothing that exactly translates this Russian term.

The "ugoI6vniki" or "habitual criminals" are obviously professionals and therefore approximately the same as the thieves.

Chapter 3 in Part I is entitled in Russian "Sledstviye." The correct, legally formal rendering of this word into English would be "investigation." The official conducting the "investigation" is a "sledovatel" or, again in the formal rendering, "investigator."

I have, however, chosen, deliberately and after consideration and consultation, generally to translate these Russian terms respectively as "interrogation" and "interrogator." The text of the book makes the reason amply clear. There was in the period and the cases described here no content of "investigation" in this process, nor was there anyone who could legitimately be called an "investigator." There was interrogation and there were interrogators.

In camps prisoners were divided into those who went out on general-assignment work every day-and therefore died offand those who got "cushy" jobs within the camp compound at I 620 T RAN S L A TOR'S NOT E S office work, as hospital orderlies, as cooks, bread cutters, assistants in the mess hall, etc., etc.-and thereby were in a better position to survive. These latter were contemptuously christened by the other prisoners "pridurki"--derived from a verb meaning to shirk general-assignment work. I have here translated "pridUrki" as "trusties." As in many other cases there is no exact English equivalent, but this is certainly as close as there is.

Anyone who wishes to delve further into the lingo of Russian thieves and camps can well make use of the valuable book Soviet Prison Camp Speech, a Survivor's Glossary, compiled by Meyer Galler and Harlan E. Marquess, University of Wisconsin Press, 1972.

I wish to thank those who have given me invaluable assistance with this translation-and in the first place and in particular Frances Lindley, my experienced, able, and long-suffering editor at Harper & Row; Dick Passmore, my brilliant copy editor;

Theodore Shabad, who has labored long and industriously over the glossary and details in footnotes and text; and also Nina Sobolev, for her long faithful hours of help of all kinds.

Michael Scammell, the well-known British translator and editor, was kind enough to come to New York during the final stages of the preparation of this manuscript and provide the benefit of his own considerable experience in giving the text one last thorough and most useful going over. I am deeply grateful to him.

There are several others who have done more for this project than I can possibly thank them for. But I can at least try-in the knowledge that they will know whom I mean when they read these lines.

Yet with all this, if there are faults in this translation, as no doubt there are, mine is the responsibility.


Glossary NAMES Abakumov, Viktor Semyonovich (1894-1954). Stalin's Minister of State Security, 1946-1952. Executed in December, 1954, under Khrushchev.

Agranov, Yakov Savlovich (?-1939). Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs under Yagoda and Yezhov. Played important role in preparing show trials of 1936-1938. Shot in purges.

Aikhenvald, Yuli Isayevich (1872-1928). Critic and essayist, translated Schopenhauer into Russian. Exiled in 1922.

Akhmatova (Goreoko), Anna Andreyevna (1889-1966). Acmeist poet, wife of Nikolai Gumilyev. Denounced in 1946 as "alien to the Soviet people." Long unpublished in Soviet Union; some works published after 1956.

Aldanov (Landau), Mark Aleksandrovich (1886-1957). Writer of historical novels; emigrated 1919 to Paris, and later to New York.

Aldan-Semyonov, Andrei Ignatyevich (1908-). Soviet writer; imprisoned in Far East camps, 1938-1953. Author of memoirs.

Aleksandrov, A. I. Head of Arts Section of All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries; purged in 1935.

AllUuyevs. Family of Stalin's second wife, Nadezhda Sergeyevna.

Amfiteatrov, Aleksandr Valentinovich (1862-1938). Russian writer;

emigrated 1920.

Anders, Wladyslaw (1892-1970). Polish general; formed Polish military units in Soviet Union and led them out to Iran in 1943.

Andreyev, Leonid Nikolayevich (1871-1919). Playwright and short story writer, close to Expressionism; died in Finland.

Andreyushkin, Pakhomi Ivanovich (1865-1887). Member of Narodnaya Volya terrorist group; executed after attempt to assassinate Alexander III in 1887.

Antonov-Saratovsky, Vladimir Pavlovich (1884-1965). Old BolsheI 622 GLOSSARY vik, served as judge in Shakhty (1928) and Promparty (1930) trials.

Averbakh, I. L. Soviet jurist; associate of Vyshinsky.

Babushkin, Ivan Vasilyevich (1873-1906). Russian revolutionary.

Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhailovich (1895-). Literary scholar, expert on Dostoyevsky. Unpublished in Soviet Union from 1930 to 1963.

BakDDin, Mikhail A1eksandrovich (1814-1876). A founder of Anarchism.

Bandera, Stepan (1909-1959). Ukrainian nationalist; led anti-Soviet forces in Ukraine after World War II until 1947; assassinated in Munich by a Soviet agent.

Bedny, Demyan (1883-1945). Soviet poet.

Belinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevich (1811-1848). Literary critic and ardent liberal, champion of socially-conscious literature.

Benois, A1eksandr Nikolayevich (1870-1960). Scenic designer; emigrated 1926 to Paris.

Berdyayev, Nikolai A1eksandrovich (1874-1948). Philosopher, religious thinker; opposed atheism and materialism. Expelled in 1922;

lived in Paris after 1924.

Beria, Lavrenti Pavlovich (1899-1953). Georgian Bolshevik, became close Stalin associate in 1938, in charge of secret police and national security. Executed after Stalin's death.

Biron or Biren. Russian name of Count Ernst Johann Biihren (1690-1772). A favorite of Empress Anna Ivanovna, under whom he instituted a tyrannical rule.

Blok, A1eksandr A1eksandrovich (1880-1921). Symbolist poet.

Bliicher, Marshal Vasily Konstantinovich (1890-1938). Commander of Far East Military District, 1929-1938; shot in purge.

Blyumkin, Yakov Grigoryevich (1898-1929). A Left Socialist Revolutionary; assassinated German Ambassador Mirbach in Moscow in 1918; later joined Cheka; executed after he took message from Trotsky to Radek.

Boky, Gleb Ivanovich (1879-1941). Secret police official; member of Supreme Court after 1927; arrested in 1937.

Bonch-Bruyevich, Vladimir Dmitriyevich (1873-1955). Bolshevik revolutionary; administrative officer of Council of People's Commissars, 1917-1920.

Bondarin, Sergei Aleksandrovich (1903-). Children's writer.

Budenny, Marshal Semyon Mikhailovich (1883-1973). Civil War hero; commander of Bolshevik cavalry; commander Southwest Front in early phase of World War II.

BukhariD, Nikolai Ivanovich (1888-1938). Prominent Party official and economic theorist; member of Politburo after 1924 and general I Glossary 623 secretary of Comintem after 1926; expelled from Party in 1929;

executed after 1938 show trial.

Bulgakov, Mikhail Afanasyevich (1891-1940). Satirist, most of whose writings have not been published in Soviet Union.

Bulgakov, Sergei Nikolayevich (1871-1944). Religious philosopher;

exiled in 1922, lived in Paris.

Bunin, Ivan Alekseyevich (1870-1953). Writer; emigrated 1920 to France; won Nobel Prize in 1933.

Bunyachenko, Sergei K. (1-1946). Commander of 1st Division of Vlasov's forces in World War II; executed in Soviet Union in 1946.

Chamovsky, N. F. (1868-1). Soviet economic official; among defendants in 1930 Promparty trial.

Chekhovsky, Vladimir Moiseyevich (1877-1). Ukrainian nationalist.

Chemov, Viktor Mikhailovich (1873-1952). Socialist Revolutionary Party leader; emigrated in 1920.

Chubar, VIas Yakovlevich (1891-1939). High Soviet Ukrainian ofti.cial; shot in purges.

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