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MAGNIFICENT:))))Vladimir’s entries convey the impact the historical events had on people, starting with the civil war, followed by famine and disease exacerbated by an inefficient and incompetent central planning. The entries trumpet the establishment of museums and artistic competitions only to be followed by notices of crop failures, typhus outbreaks, and cannibalism in the countryside. Since there are more bodies than diggers, Moscow’s dead have to be shipped out of the city in order to be buried. The government is more concerned with converting first- and second-class carriages on the trains to third-class carriages (symbolic in its own right) than keeping the city’s streets lit. Directives against lice (called “enemies of the revolution”) goes from laughable to pathetic as Vladimir and his wife delouse each other.Vladimir continually spouts ancient Russian history that everyone ignores, although his references provide a key to what he is experiencing. For example, he looks at history to put his love/hate relationship in context:It is impossible to understand this country: it forgives Ivan the Terrible but tears Otrepyev to pieces; it wages unsuccessful wars for seven hundred years and conquers more nations than the Roman Empire; it is unable to produce any fuses, and yet it builds the world’s most beautiful city on a swamp.This love/hate relationship carries over to his personal life. Vladimir worships his wife Olga, which makes her constant cuckolding of him that much more intense. His aborted suicide attempt provides an example of what was going wrong at the time—the base of a seven-story apartment building is covered in the garbage tenants throw out the window, which would break the fall of his jump. Vladimir and Olga attempt to carry on in a lifestyle that no longer exists except for the rich and well-connected, first pawning or selling jewels, books, and eventually Olga’s body. Vladimir’s comments on the nepman Dokuchaev is something he and Olga figured out early during the turbulence and covers more than just making money:A man who wishes to make money in Soviet Russia must be the person he needs to be. It depends on the person you are dealing with—a peasant shirt or a dinner jacket, a fool or an intelligent man, a scoundrel or a relatively decent individual.
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