Military Review

"Lieutenant Prose" - Vasil Bykov

Vasil (Vasily) Vladimirovich Bykov (years of life 19 June 1924 - 22 June 2003) was a Soviet and Belarusian writer, public figure, representative of “lieutenant prose”. He took part in the Great Patriotic War, ended the war as a senior lieutenant. Most of Vasil Bykau’s works of art are represented by short stories, the action of which unfolds during the war and in which the reader is confronted with the moral choice of heroes that they have to do in the most dramatic moments of their lives.

Vasil Bykov was born 19 June 1924, in the small village of Bychki, Ushachsky district, Vitebsk region. The future writer was born in a rather poor peasant family. He later said he did not love his childhood. It was a hungry life, when you had to go to school, there was nothing to wear and nothing to eat. His only joy at that time was nature and books. In the summer, he, like many Belarusian boys, ran into the woods, to the lake, to go fishing. If it had free time, of course. At that time, always had to work, it was necessary, and forced. After graduating from 8 classes, Bykov entered the Vitebsk Art School at the sculptural department (the future writer, among other things, drew quite well). But he failed to finish his studies, he had to leave school and return to his native village after the scholarships were canceled. In June, 1941, Vasil Bykov, an external student, passed exams for the 10 class.
"Lieutenant Prose" - Vasil Bykov

The war found a writer in Ukraine, where he participated in the creation of defensive lines. During the retreat to the east, in Belgorod, he lagged behind his column and was arrested. He was even nearly shot, mistaking for a German spy. In the winter of 1941-1942, he lived at the Saltykovka station, as well as in the city of Atkarsk, the Saratov region, and studied at a railway school. In the summer of 1942, he was drafted into the army, graduated from the Saratov Infantry School. In the autumn of 1943, Vasily Bykov was promoted to junior lieutenant. He took part in the battles for Alexandria, Krivoy Rog, Znamenka. During the Kirovograd offensive, he was wounded in the stomach and in the leg (was mistakenly recorded as lost).

Memories of this and the events after his injury formed the basis of his future novel The Dead Doesn't Hurt. At the beginning of 1944, he spent the month at the hospital in 3, after which he took part in the Yassy-Kishinev offensive operation and participated in the liberation of Romania. With the army he passed through the territory of Bulgaria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Austria. He served as a senior lieutenant, commanded an artillery platoon. During the war he was wounded twice, has military awards. During the war years he was awarded the Order of the Red Star, after the war he received the Order of the Patriotic War 1 degrees.

After demobilization he settled in the city of Grodno (from 1947 year). Here, the future writer worked first in the workshops, and then in the editorial office of the regional newspaper “Grodno truth”. In Grodno, he worked until 1949, after which he continued to serve in the Soviet army, served in one of the remote garrisons in the Kuril Islands. Finally, Vasil Bykov was demobilized from the armed forces only in 1955, already in the rank of major.

His first works of the future writer published in 1947 year. However, the writer himself counted off his creative activity from 1951, this year in the garrison in the Kuril Islands, he wrote the stories Oboznik and Death of a Man. For many years, the main heroes of his works were soldiers and officers, and the main theme of the Great Patriotic War - the era of the "colossal efforts of the Soviet people." Later, critics attributed his works to the so-called “lieutenant prose”, the most prominent representatives of which were Yuri Bondarev, Konstantin Vorobyev and many other writers who fought.

In 1966, the squall of official criticism was caused by the story “Dead Doesn't Hurt” published in the magazine “New World”, in which the “meat grinder” of the past war was shown with the merciless realism inherent in all the work of Vasil Bykov. Despite this, this work brought the writer world-wide fame. And Bykov himself highly appreciated his “Novomirivsky period” of life and friendship with the famous editor of the magazine, the poet Alexander Tvardovsky. In 1970-s, when the flow of front prose in the country waned, Bykov did not even think about parting with the title of "trench chronicler." He did not change the theme of most of his works and was not going to forget about the tragedy of the war years. Vasil Bykov's stories have become classics of Russian literature: Centurion (1970), Live to Dawn (1973), Wolf Pack (1975), His Battalion (1976), Go and Never Return (1978).

The favorite genre for the writer was the story. In the center of each of his works, he tried to put a moral problem, which Bykov "dissolved" in intense military episodes, as a rule, not very long in time. Often Vasil Bykov said and wrote that he was interested in those life situations that allow him to fully reveal the characters of the heroes, allow him to imagine the human essence as the most visible, to show it at the moment of the most vivid manifestation. Moreover, usually the spiritual ups of the heroes of his works ended in death. So, for example, the hero of his story "The Alpine Ballad" (1964) - a Russian prisoner of war, Ivan, died rescuing Italian Julia, with whom fate brought him together for only a few days, in order to experience the transient happiness of love after the hell of the concentration camp. The story "The Alpine Ballad" was one of the first Soviet literary works in which the captive was shown not as a soldier’s fault, but as his tragedy.

Also, the action of many heroes of Vasil Bykov’s works was connected with the life of Soviet citizens during the fascist occupation - in Belarusian villages and in partisan detachments. In this case, the theme of betrayal becomes the central theme of such works. So the main character of the story "Centurion" is able to maintain loyalty to duty and humanity, but in his companion Rybak the fear of death prevails, and he becomes a traitor. As a result, Sotnikov is executed by the fascists, and Rybak has managed to save his life at the cost of someone else’s deaths, which dooms him to eternal moral torment. The hero of another of his military story "Obelisk" also went to death. The school teacher sacrificed himself to save his students. In the story "Obelisk" the story is on behalf of one of the surviving adolescents, so the reader is given the opportunity to independently understand and draw conclusions about the motives of the actions of the deceased teacher.

Vasily Bykov was awarded the USSR State Prize for his stories “Obelisk” and “Live to Dawn”. While living and working in Brest, the national writer of Belarus was published in the journal Novy Mir, and in 1970-1980-ies he was a member of the leadership of the Union of Writers of the USSR. Today, many critics rightly consider his work an integral part of Russian literature. His story “To go and not to return” (1978), which took place on the territory of occupied Belarus in 1942, was dramatized by the author and successfully staged in theaters in Russia and Belarus. In 1980, Vasil Bykov received the title of National Writer of Belarus. In the 1986 year, his merit in the literary field was awarded the Lenin Prize.

Since the beginning of perestroika, Vasil Bykov became one of the first writers in the country who showed the tragedy of the Russian countryside in the 30-ies of the 20th century, when the Stalinist methods brought the peasants to a state of serfdom and poverty. He described the difficult fate of the Russian peasantry in the “Sign of Trouble” story, for which Bykov was awarded the Lenin Prize. The story described the fate of the Belarusian farmers Stepanida and Petroka, who, despite all the humiliation, refused to serve the fascists. This story embodies the most important idea for Vasil Bykov’s creativity: human dignity is more precious than human life. Also in this story appears a new idea for his work - that the sufferings of the Soviet people during the years of the Great Patriotic War are not accidental, they are most likely to be natural.

When Alexander Lukashenko came to power in Belarus, Vasil Bykov, who spoke out with harsh criticism of the regime established in the state, is being persecuted by the authorities, who are starting a campaign against him: they are beginning to be defamed in the media, but the works are not printed. At the end of 1997, he was forced to leave the country and go to Europe. For some time he lived in Finland, Germany, the Czech Republic. In “Emigration” he wrote a number of parables and short stories, as well as the story “Wolf Pit”, which was devoted to the moral consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.

The writer 22 died on June 2003 of the year on the day the Great Patriotic War began in the oncology hospital near Minsk. He returned home a month before his death. He was buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Minsk, the streets in Belostok, Grodno, and the village of Zhdanovichi were named after the writer. Bykov wrote most of his stories and short stories in Belarusian, many of which he himself translated into Russian. During the life and after the death of the writer, his works were translated into many languages ​​of the world.

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  1. Mikhado
    Mikhado April 19 2013 10: 28
    And there were people - also war veterans, and even writers who did not spit during the years of perestroika in the Soviet regime, who did not transfer their personal insults for the whole era, who did not go to the West to seek the TRUTH. This, you see, did not like that Belarus under Lukashenko turned to Russia, and not to Europe.

    All in Soviet awards - I would take it and return it, since such a fundamental ...

    Dear Solzhenitsyn went, in short ...

    Hate has been accumulating all my life ... The handshake of the uncle was of the highest standard.
    1. Black
      Black April 19 2013 13: 27
      Quote: Mikhado
      Dear Solzhenitsyn went, in short ...

      I've been hating all my life ...

      Your avatar is perfect for koment.
      "Look, you were fed, you know!", Whose bread did you eat? .. on whose money did you study? .. how dare you think otherwise, in general — how dare you think !? - we have someone to think about! ... hidden enemy !! "
      Eka does not let you go then !!!!
      Bykov is amazingly thin, deep, truly from the soul of the people - the sovereign of the word. I didn’t sit behind you during the war, what right do you have to give advice for his awards?
      It is time to cool off the idea that opinion is ONE POSSIBLE, and to respect with what I do not agree.
      1. Mikhado
        Mikhado April 19 2013 18: 34
        Quote: Chen
        advice for his rewards?

        Awards meant writers, not military. Up to "GerTruda".
        Quote: Chen
        lord of the word

        And there were the "masters of the word", including those who fought, who didn’t tear their party membership card or claws over the hill, and who simply could not survive the collapse of the great country, could not bear the shame - and not even their own - it was a shame for everyone!

        And if it’s about avatars here ... He’s more of me with humor, with good, but for you, I didn’t understand for the fineness of the picture, but most likely a Cossack? You can also speculate about nostalgia for crunching rolls and whistling whip, not?
    2. sq
      sq April 23 2013 00: 31
      he deserved the rewards with his blood and there’s nothing to yank at him in all sorts of different ways,
  2. Smoke
    Smoke April 19 2013 11: 13
    +2 тут есть описание боя за который он получил Красную Звезду. Кстати там он себя русским записал...не стоит осуждать его, не ошибается тот кто ничего не делает, и сейчас бы наверняка он бы переосмыслил свои взгляды.

    zs my sister prompted this site ..... looked at "friends" - found a description of the battle for which the paternal grandfather deserved the Order of glory, and from the mother's side, the grandfather finally turned out to be a seasoned warrior - he was demobilized from the Far East only in 55 ... never I didn’t tell you ... thank you very much to those people who made this site. We have here in Tomsk people are organizing an "immortal regiment" - so I'll go
  3. Igarr
    Igarr April 19 2013 11: 13
    When I read his works, my heart stopped beating.
    So it clung to everything.
    And then he left for the West, sharp criticism of the regime. Would you like something like a young one - a lot at once?
    It does not happen.
    Finland, Germany, Czech Republic ... strange. And he returned home to die.
    God be his judge.
    He was an excellent writer.
    1. Mikhado
      Mikhado April 19 2013 12: 02
      Quote: Igarr
      He was an excellent writer.

      Yeah, and the "subscriber" too.

      42 wonderful people called Boris Nikolayevich harder with all kinds of commies and fascists — otherwise, you mutter, you bastards.

      Reputation is such a thing - earned over the years, and you can memorize in a couple of minutes. These citizens here served the restructuring in all fields, crap in our brains, many believed and still believe.
      You think - just like that, stumbled? So smart - and the mistake came out?
      1. Igarr
        Igarr April 19 2013 13: 32
        Hi, hi.
        But what if...???
        He waved without looking, as they say. this call.
        In the morning I woke up - look, ... hole drilled. And .. for the mound faster, for the mound. From shame.
        During perestroika, as soon as the roof of someone did not go.
        Someone in truth - was leaving. Who is in business. Who has racketeering.
        And about the reputation - stopitsot. All right.
        Perhaps that is why he rummaged around abroad.
    2. Lech from ZATULINKI
      Lech from ZATULINKI April 19 2013 15: 26
      yes that’s true - you don’t need such a talent to crawl into any shit ... my
      1. Mikhado
        Mikhado April 19 2013 18: 43
        Quote: Lech from ZATULINKI
        yes that’s true - you don’t need such a talent to crawl into any shit ... my

        Guys ... Are you familiar with the concept of "Soviet intellectual"? How does it differ from a simple intellectual?
        Both Solzhenitsyn and Bykov are both front-line soldiers, the first is also a prisoner, and what prevented them from harboring hostility to the "system", Solzh is even more honest, he immediately identified himself and clearly seized his benefits from enemies, and the second before perestroika kept silent, receiving awards from the vile Soviet power, and then revealed himself. And from a public, respected person, the demand is greater - how many naive souls he pulled along as an authority.
        So, alas, he will not be a "sheep".
  4. 120352
    120352 April 19 2013 11: 25
    A worthy person! I read everything that was available. Brilliant. Including criticism of the regime. I wrote exactly as I thought. The present ones do not think, the present ones "invent". Blessed memory to him! Till the end of time!
  5. Bigriver
    Bigriver April 19 2013 11: 31
    The film "Ascent" by Larisa Shepitko based on Bykov's story "Sotnikov" is the strongest thing!
    It would be my will, I would introduce it to the school curriculum.
    1. Black
      Black April 19 2013 13: 16
      Quote: BigRiver
      It would be my will, I would introduce it to the school curriculum.

      Smart and thoughtful teachers have long introduced this into the program. no one bothers.
      1. Bigriver
        Bigriver April 19 2013 13: 42
        Quote: Chen

        Smart and thoughtful teachers have long introduced this into the program. no one bothers.

        May be. So my son was unlucky :(
        In history and literature, all the last years of high school, I pulled it myself. The acquaintance with the "knowledge" of his friends was also horrifying.
        True, it was in the mid-2000s.
        But I myself remember clearly that in the 10th grade (1981) we had a watch on modern literature. And Bykov was there.
    2. rexby63
      rexby63 April 19 2013 16: 54
      So entered already. My youngest read recently. Well, in our 70s she was in the program
  6. gregor6549
    gregor6549 April 19 2013 11: 33
    I was lucky to read his books and communicate with him personally. He was not only talented but also a very courageous person, because he was not afraid of anyone and cut the truth of the uterus, for which he was disliked by those in power. And the public perceived him ambiguously. Everyone got so accustomed to the image of the heroic Belarusian people, and then it turned out that there were punishers among this people, more terrible than the SS. And the punishers never handed over neighbors for a pair of boots, especially if the neighbors turned out to be persons of the wrong nationality. He also "beat" the generally recognized leaders who, under the Germans, were hiding in the deep swamps and then it turned out that it was they, these leaders, who led the partisan movement and marched in the front ranks of the partisans with a submachine gun at the ready. Who will forgive someone like Bykov? And they did not forgive.
  7. savoj
    savoj April 19 2013 11: 34
    The judges are of course excellent.
  8. Terrible ensign
    Terrible ensign April 19 2013 11: 58
    Honest man. Honest, first of all, in front of himself! .. And this is rare.
  9. knn54
    knn54 April 19 2013 13: 53
    June 22 - the beginning of World War II and the date of death of the writer Vasil Bykov. The coincidence is symbolic; Bykov not only fought (was mistakenly buried in a mass grave), but also wrote about the war. And not so much as about military or historical events, but as about borderline situations for a person. He believed that a spiritual, moral feat was more important than a military feat. As a kid, I walked for a long time under the impression after the movie “The Third Rocket.” I believe that his works should, at a minimum, be in a program for extracurricular reading and not only in Belarus.
    PS Lukashenko said that: “a person whose name is directly related to the desire of our people to live in a free and independent country has passed away ... Bykov and I had a different understanding of sovereignty, but this person cannot be denied the desire of a passionate struggle for the freedom of our country and independence".
  10. Stas57
    Stas57 April 19 2013 17: 14
    Quote: BigRiver
    The film "Ascent" by Larisa Shepitko based on Bykov's story "Sotnikov" is the strongest thing!
    It would be my will, I would introduce it to the school curriculum.

    but they tried to ban, thanks to Peter Masherov, who himself survived a lot ..

    Bykov is very strong, and very bright, I constantly re-read and worry,
    ps. mine is "Kruglyansky Bridge".
  11. anatoly57
    anatoly57 April 19 2013 20: 08
    A wonderful writer! We will not judge him for his political views, books, they said everything for him to lead him. In each work, the plot simply "rings" from the tension, the heroes of stories and stories are faced with a mortal choice, and the seemingly weak turn out to be stronger than the supposedly heroic and strong ones (Sotnikov). A real, truthful person and writer, eternal memory and respect for him!
  12. bublic82009
    bublic82009 April 19 2013 22: 39
    So what? Yes, in due time we taught his works. and then he darted west. and how can you believe him?
  13. Vlaleks48
    Vlaleks48 April 19 2013 23: 01
    The writer’s front-line prose is excellent and very realistic! But with the advent of the dad, his hopes for something else that only Shushkevich could give him collapsed, and he sprinkled to the west! is always!
  14. Comrade1945
    Comrade1945 April 19 2013 23: 56
    Roth Front, comrades.

    The third rocket is beyond praise: both the book and the film.
    Wonderful writer however
  15. washi
    washi April 20 2013 15: 20
    He is a MAN. but THAT I RUNNING IN EUROPE .. I went, looked (it’s not Lukoshenko), I saw, I was horrified - to my Homeland.
  16. jury08
    jury08 April 21 2013 02: 04
    Get your dirty hands off a decent man!