The Western Rebirth of ‘lagernaya literatura’

  • Andrea Gullotta University of Padua
Keywords: Gulag Literature, Travis Holland, Martin Amis, House of Meetings, The Archivist's Story, Soviet repression and literature


This paper aims to study a phenomenon that, to date, has received scant attention: the rebirth of the literary genre lagernaya literatura (literature related to the theme of Soviet repression). This study analyzes it in the Anglo-Saxon context through two novels, Martin Amis' The House of Meetings and Travis Holland's The Archivist's Story.

After a brief introduction devoted to Russia's current controversial relationship with the memory of its tragic past within the literary field, the paper delves into the characteristics of the two texts, seen as an extension of a literary genre exhausted in its country of origin and reborn in the West.

The paper shows the correspondences between the two novels and the tradition of Russian lagernaya literatura, both at a thematic and at a stylistic level, and highlights the common characteristics and the differences, as well as the different narrative approaches of the two authors.

Author Biography

Andrea Gullotta, University of Padua
Andrea Gullotta was born in 1981 and obtained his PhD in Slavic Studies at the University of Padua in April 2011; with his dissertation titled The ‘Paris of the Northern Concentration Camps’: The Intellectual Life and Literature of the Solovki Prison Camp Between 1923 and 1930. His main research interests are Gulag literature; Gulag cultural history; and Samizdat literature. He has taught Russian language and literature at the University of Palermo and currently holds a post-doctoral research grant at the University of Padua.


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Holland, Travis, The Archivist’Story (2007), trad. it. Storia di un archivista, Ed. Elisa Banfi, Parma, Guanda, 2008.

Langbein Hermann, Uomini ad Auschwitz, Milano, Mursia, 1984.

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Valle, Roberto, Recensione a T. Holland, Storia di un archivista, L’Indice dei libri del mese, giugno 2008.

How to Cite
Gullotta, A. (2011). The Western Rebirth of ‘lagernaya literatura’. Between, 1(2).