Rights sold: Czech - Svoboda, Germany - Aufbau

In his 1978 The Portrait and Around (Portret i vokrug) Makanin pinpoints a major problem for the Russian intelligent; namely, his inability to recognize his guilt. The Portrait and Around revolves around a ‘man of the sixties’, Starokhatov, a man who abuses his position as a well-known scriptwriter and producer to sign his name to scripts written by novice authors. Starokhatov is no monster (he is capable of generous, even noble acts), but his ability to create a false, successful self-image through his plagiarism points not only to his lack of ethics, but to his lack of identity. Identity is a major problem for the main character in this novel, Igor Petrovich, who becomes involved in the Starokhatov case when a friend asks him to help create a ‘portrait’ of the man. Igor uncovers evidence of Starokhatov’s theft of scripts but finds himself unable to take any action against the man. This is not only due to an intelligent's ineffectuality; Starokhatov tells Igor that he ‘sees himself’ in Starokhatov, whose criminality he has exposed. Starokhatov suggests one possible motivation for lgor's inability to act; for Igor, laying charges against this man would be like indicting himself; and he cannot accept his own criminality.

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