Metaphors and symbolism in Russian fiction

Written by By Maria Obraztsova, CNN

When Victor Ilyich Khrushchev first heard that Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy had died, he was devastated.

“For three months,” he told his first wife, Svetlana Alliluyeva, in their memoir “In Our Marriage.” “I was suicidal. I wanted to end my life.”

Just two years later, when he was discharged from the hospital after surviving a three-year illness, Khrushchev was confronted with the possibility of being defined as Tolstoy’s heir. How much of the Russian author’s “videolatry” could he carry on his own?

Though his own story has never caught up to that of his family’s, that assumption is largely how Khrushchev is remembered in 20th-century Russian literature. Even now, in the context of the arts and public culture, he remains the only serious novelist the country has produced.

On this fascinating night at the European Film Festival, Khrushchev’s rejection of the biographical model of Russian literature is the star of “Victor Ilyich Khrushchev: Advantages of Lit,” a moving new documentary about the writer’s last year in life.

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