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Kataev () Valentin Petrovich
(18971986)
A White Sail Gleams

Kataev () Valentin Petrovich (18971986)A White Sail Gleams

Valentin Katayev was a Soviet novelist and playwright whose lighthearted, satirical treatment of postrevolutionary social conditions rose above the generally uninspired official Soviet style.

Katayev began writing short stories in 1916. He served in the Red Army until 1920, when he became a journalist in Odessa. In 1922, Katayev moved to Moscow, working on the staff of Gudok ("The Whistle").

His novel Rastratchiki (1926; The Embezzlers) is a picaresque tale of two adventurers in the tradition of Gogol. His comic play Kvadratura kruga (1928; Squaring the Circle) portrays the effect of the housing shortage on two married couples who share a room. Beleyet parus odinoky (1936; Lonely White Sail, or A White Sail Gleams), another novel, treats the 1905 revolution from the viewpoint of two Odessa schoolboys; it was the basis of a classic Soviet film. Katayev's Vremya, vperyod! (1932; Time, Forward!), concerning workers' attempts to build a huge steel plant in record time, is considered among the most readable of Soviet five-year-plan novels. Some critics have noted the influence of John Dos Passos in this work.

During the 1950s and '60s Katayev edited the magazine Yunost ("Youth") and opened its pages to the most promising literary talent of the young generation, including Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Bella Akhmadulina. The long list of his own works continued to grow, and in 1966 the literary magazine Novy mir ("New World") printed his Svyatoy kolodets (1967; The Holy Well), a remarkable lyrical-philosophical account of dreams experienced while the author is under anesthesia for surgery. Clearly reflecting the influence of Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Franz Kafka, Katayev weaves scenes of his family, friends, and lovers, events of Soviet history, and his travels in America into a kind of stream-of-consciousness autobiography. It is considered by some critics to be the summary work of his career. Katayev's relentless imagination, sensitivity, and originality made him one of the most distinguished Soviet writers.


Russia, 2001, Lubov Orlova, film Circus

Russia, 1997, Valentin Kataev

Russia, 2001, Stamps with popular cinema actors

Russia, 2003, Grigory Aleksandrov and his films

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