ELKOST International Literary Agency

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The Colonel Myasoedov Affair (a novel)

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Original Polish title: SPRAWA PUŁKOWNIKA MIASOJEDOWA

Rights status: available for all languages less Polish.

Published by: Polish - Świderski, Wydawnictwo Klubów Mysli Robotniczej "Baza", Kontra; German - J. Pfeiffer; Spanish - Luis de Carait

 

The plot of The Colonel Myasoyedov Affair (1962) concerns the fate of Colonel Myasoyedov, a rather ordinary employee of the Russian state and private entrepreneur, who gets caught up in a complex web of events involving Russian-German spying activities, internecine battles between factions within the Okhrana (Russian secret police), and escalating tension between Germany and Russia as they work up towards the Great War. Eventually, Myasoyedov is accused of spying – via rumour, innuendo and disinformation – and is sentenced to death, partly on anti-Semitic grounds: he has been involved with a Jewish company which does shipping business between Germany and Russia, and has been protected by an aristocratic patron within the intelligence services, who is an anti-anti-Semite. (One of the more fascinating scenes in the novel is a description of a pogrom in Kiev in 1905, and all the different interests involved in stoking it, and stopping its course.) Once Myasoyedov is executed (in 1915), the novel's point of view shifts to his widow, Clara, who finds herself pursued by the rumours about her husband all the way up to WWII, and who eventually decides to flee the Soviet sphere with her second husband, and ends up witnessing the 1945 firebombing of Dresden. It is a kind of Russian "Dreyfuss affair", but much more interesting and with a larger historical panorama.

"Mackiewicz is a first-rate writer, with a wonderful sense of character, a gift for dialogue, and a strong narrative instinct. ... He has a deeply informed historical intelligence, and a powerful sense of the hidden connections between causes of events, and their sometimes much later consequences. The writing is marked by an appealing naturalness, as it moves from scenes of personal life and relationships, and the broader political and historical panorama." -- Eva Hoffman, the author of Lost in Translation