Monday, January 24, 2011

Autobiography by Grigory Grigorov

Article by Dmitri Minaev
Recently, I finished reading memoirs of Grigory Grigorov. He was born in 1900 in Ukraine, in a family of a poor tailor. The book starts in 1905, when his family lived in Aleksandrovsk, with one of his first recollections, a pogrom. In 1911, he graduated from a five-year Jewish school and started working: at a footwear factory, as a newspaper boy, an assistant at a barbershop... In 1915 he made acquaintance with a couple of students who ran education groups for workers and who helped him find good books, and he started learning. In just two years, Grigory managed to prepare for the gymnasium exams, which included math, geography, history, physics, chemistry, biology, German and Latin languages. In 1917, he was already reading Caesar in Latin and Schiller in German. At the same time, he read philosophy books, books about religion, classical Greek literature, Shakespeare's works. What's more important, these two students who became his close friends, were socialists. They introduced him to Marxism. By that time Grigorov was working at a factory, and the choice of socialism was quite natural for him.

What is so interesting about this book? Firstly, it's a detailed description of life in the early USSR. Secondly, it is one of few biographies written by the people from the other side of the revolution. And, finally, to a certain degree, it has explained to me the way of thinking of the people who fought in the Red Army for the bolsheviks. Grigorov, like many others, was disappointed with the way the things went. I'd say he should have listened better to the wise people, like Bondarenko and Likhachov. There's a bunch of things where I would disagree with Grigory Grigorov, but he had made his choice and the book is a frank justification of that choice.

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