This I Cannot Forget, by Anna Larina is an interesting guide to how people with knowledge were treated in the USSR. While reading this, however, one must remember that it is a widow’s memoir and not a guaranteed factual piece of Soviet history. Larina tells us in her preface that her purpose is to attempt to tell the truth, as best as can be remembered, and also states that, “Nikolai would approve of that aim” (38) in reference to her attempt to tell the truth. This is what I believe to be the main point of the novel. Larina overcoming all odds and surviving that tragedy, and still prevails long enough to tell the world about the events that happened so long ago.
Larina, in my opinion, truly believes every word she wrote. She disputes how guilty Bukharin really was, but not as a legal representative, but more from a wife’s perspective. This could be from the fact her husband and son were both taken from her unjustly by Stalin. Larina proves that she thinks Stalin, not Bolshevism, is the real evil during this time period. She is cold, cruel, and truthful about her feelings of the dictator who was her husband’s friend, but eventually finished him off.
Anna Larina did an exceptional job of providing detail throughout the book. From the reunion scene, to telling of prisons dirt and grime she was sent to. However, Larina did not convey to the audience her feelings of ethical fury. She was treated, basically like a dog, and instead of constant whining about it throughout the book, she suppresses those feelings and instead focuses on the other people in her life, such as her husband and son, and the other prisoners that she saw, such as Yakir who was killed and his family later arrested and Shaposhnikov who was sentenced twice and then shot.
From what I can tell about this novel, it is written very well and extremely forthcoming with details. I personally would recommend this novel to someone who has minimal knowledge of Soviet history. I do, however, warn that it almost appears to be a Soviet version of The Diary of Anne Frank and though it is not written in journal form, the same graphic details and tortures of living under a satanic leader, in Anne Frank’s case Hitler, in Larina’s case it is Stalin. Larina certainly dealt with much more fear and faced far more repercussions than did Frank.
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Topic: “This I cannot Forget” by Anna Larina
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