And Quiet Flows the Don

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And Quiet Flows the Don
File:MikhailSholokhov AndQuietFlowsTheDon.jpg
1936 English trans. edition
Author Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov
Original title Tikhiy Don/Тихий Дон (part 1)
Translator Stephen Garry
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian
Series Tikhiy Don/Тихий Дон
Genre Novel
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf (Eng. trans. US)
Publication date
1928 and 1940 (in serial) & 1934 (this volume in book form)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
OCLC 51565813
Followed by The Don Flows Home to the Sea

And Quiet Flows the Don or Quietly Flows the Don (Тихий Дон, literally "The Quiet Don") is an epic novel in four volumes by Russian writer Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov. The first three volumes were written from 1925 to 1932 and published in the Soviet magazine October in 1928–1932, and the fourth volume was finished in 1940. The English translation of the first three volumes appeared under this title in 1934.

The novel is considered one of the most significant works of Russian literature in the 20th century. It depicts the lives and struggles of Don Cossacks during the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and Russian Civil War. In 1965, Sholokhov was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for this novel. The authorship of the novel is contested by some literary critics and historians, who believe that it was written mostly not by Sholokhov.

Plot summary

The novel deals with the life of the Cossacks living in the Don River valley during the early 20th century, probably around 1912, just prior to World War I. The plot revolves around the Melekhov family of Tatarsk, who are descendants of a cossack who, to the horror of many, took a Turkish captive as a wife during the Crimean War. She is accused of witchcraft by Melekhov's superstitious neighbors, who attempt to kill her but are fought off by her husband. Their descendants, the son and grandsons, who are the protagonists of the story, are therefore often nicknamed "Turks". Nevertheless, they command a high amount of respect among people in Tatarsk.[citation needed]

The second eldest son, Grigori Panteleevich Melekhov, is a promising young soldier who falls in love with Aksinia, the wife of Stepan Astakhov, a family friend. There is no love between them and Stepan regularly beats her. Grigori and Aksinia's romance and elopement raise a feud between her husband and his family. The outcome of this romance is the focus of the plot as well as the impending World and Civil Wars which draw up the best young Cossack men for what will be two of Russia's bloodiest wars. The action moves to the Austro-Hungarian front, where Grigory ends up saving Stepan's life, but that doesn't end the feud. Grigory, at his father's insistence, takes a wife, Natalya, but still loves Aksinia. The book deals not only with the struggles and suffering of the Cossacks but also the landscape itself, which is vividly brought to life. There are also many folk songs referenced throughout the novel.[citation needed] And Quiet Flows the Don grew out of an earlier, unpublished work, the Donshina:

I began the novel by describing the event of the Kornilov putsch in 1917. Then it became clear that this putsch, and more importantly, the role of the Cossacks in these events, would not be understood without a Cossack prehistory, and so I began with the description of the life of the Don Cossacks just before the beginning of World War I. (quote from M.A. Sholokhov: Seminarii, (1962) by F.A. Abramovic and V.V. Gura, quoted in Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, by L.L. Litus.)

Grigori Melekhov is reportedly based on two Cossacks from Veshenskaya, Pavel Nazarovich Kudinov and Kharlampii Vasilyevich Yermakov, who were key figures in the anti-Bolshevist struggle of the upper Don.[1]

Literary significance, criticism, and accusations of plagiarism

The novel has been compared to War and Peace (1869) by Leo Tolstoy.[citation needed] Like the Tolstoy novel, And Quiet Flows the Don is an epic picture of Russian life during a time of crisis and examines it through political, military, romantic, and civilian lenses.[citation needed] Sholokhov was accused by Solzhenitsyn and others, amongst them Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of Stalin and Natalia Belinkova of plagiarizing the novel. However, an investigation in the late 1920s upheld Sholokhov's authorship of "Silent Don" and the allegations were denounced as malicious slander in Pravda.[citation needed]

During the Second World War, Sholokhov's archive was destroyed in a bomb raid, and only the fourth volume survived. Sholokhov had his friend Vassily Kudashov, who was killed in the war, look after it. Following Kudashov's death, his widow took possession of the manuscript, but she never disclosed the fact of owning it. The manuscript was finally found by the Institute of World Literature of Russian Academy of Sciences in 1999 with assistance from the Russian Government. The writing paper dates back to the 1920s: 605 pages are in Sholokhov's own hand, and 285 are transcribed by his wife Maria and sisters.[2] However, there are claims that the manuscript is just a copy of the manuscript of Fyodor Kryukov, the true author.[3]

Statistical analysis of sentence lengths in And Quiet Flows the Don gives full support to Sholokhov.[4]

Awards and nominations

The novel won the Stalin Prize in 1941 and its author won the Nobel Prize in 1965.


The novel has been adapted for the screen three times: a 1931 film by Ivan Pravov and Olga Preobrazhenskaya; a second, 1958 adaption was directed by Sergei Gerasimov and starred Elina Bystritskaya and Pyotr Glebov. In 1992–1993 a remake was directed by Sergei Bondarchuk (starring Rupert Everett); the film was not finished until 2006, when Fyodor Bondarchuk completed the editing, and was shown on Russian television as a seven-part miniseries, followed by a worldwide[citation needed] DVD release: ...and Quiet Flows the Don.

Ivan Dzerzhinsky based his opera Quiet Flows the Don (Tikhiy Don) on the novel, with the libretto adapted by his brother Leonid. Premiered in October 1935, it became wildly popular after Stalin saw and praised it a few months later. The opera was proclaimed a model of socialist realism in music and won Dzerzhinsky a Stalin Prize.[5]

The lyrics for the folk song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" by Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson were adapted from a cossack folk song mentioned in And Quiet Flows the Don.[6]

Release details

  • 1934, US, Alfred A. Knopf (ISBN NA), Pub date ? ? 1934, hardback (First Eng. trans edition)
  • 1934, UK, Putnam (ISBN NA), Pub date ? ? 1934, hardback
  • 1977, USSR, Progress Press (ISBN ?), Pub date ? ? 1974, hardback (in 4 volumes & in Russian)
  • 1988, USSR, Raduga Publishers (ISBN 5-05-001680-0 & 5-05-001681-9), Pub date of unabridged English edition, hardback (in 2 volumes)


  1. And Quiet Flows the Don, part 1, And Quiet Flows the Don, part 2
  2. (Russian)
  3. А_ Чернов_ Запрещённый классик
  4. Hjort N. L. (2007), "And quiet does not flow the Don: statistical analysis of a quarrel between Nobel laureates", Consilience (editor—Østreng W.) 134–140 (Oslo: Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters).
  5. McAllister, Rita, ed. Stanley Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan, 1980), 20 vols., 5:797.


External links