Second-Hand Time

Second-Hand Time


16 min

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ÂCommunism had an insane plan: to refashion the Âold breed of man, ancient Adam. And it accomplished this... writes Svetlana Alexievich. ÂThis was perhaps communismÂs only achievement. Seventy plus years in the Marxist-Leninist laboratory gave rise to a new kind of man, the Homo sovieticus. This Âred manÂ: thatÂs whom Alexievich has been studying since her first book, published in 1985  a people and a culture condemned to extinction by the implosion of theSoviet Union. In this magnificent requiem to a civilization in ruins, the author of Voices from Chernobyl reinvents a singular, polyphonic literary form, bringing together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble.AlexievichÂs method is simple: ÂI donÂt ask people about socialism, I ask about love, jealousy, childhood, old age. Music, dances, hairstyles. The myriad sundry details of a vanished way of life. This is the only way to chase the catastrophe into the framework of the mundane and attempt to tell a story. Try to figure things out. It never ceases to amaze me how interesting ordinary, everyday life is. There are an endless number of human truths... HistoryÂs sole concern is the facts; emotions are out of its realm of interest. ItÂs considered improper to admit feelings into history. I look at the world as a writer, not strictly an historian. I am fascinated by people...ÂFrom this fascination emerges a brilliant, poignant and unique portrait of post-Soviet society, built on the traumatisms of its predecessors collapse.

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