Tyorkin in the Other World by Alexander Tvardovsky

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Tyorkin in the Other World is a satirical sequel to Tvardovsky’s heroic war-time epic Vasiliy Tyorkin: A Book about a Soldier. Written in the early 1950s, when Tvardovsky was temporarily removed from the editorship of Novy Mir, the poem imagines that Private Tyorkin has died and gone to the ‘Other World’. The joke is that Hell turns out to be like the Soviet Union under Stalin, an oppressive, bureaucratic and culturally conservative society of Dead souls. Although the poem circulated among Moscow intellectuals for several years, it was only published after Khrushchev invited Tvardovsky to his dacha to read it (Sartre and de Beauvoir were also there). In the context of the Thaw, the book was an immediate commercial and critical success, and was turned into a hit stage-play. After the fall of Khrushchev, however, it was allowed to fall out of print.