Searingly hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the winter, the ancestral estate of the Golovlyov family is the end of the road. There Anna Petrovna rules with an iron hand over her servants and family-until she loses power to the relentless scheming of her hypocritical son Judas.
One of the great books of Russian literature, The Golovlyov Family is a vivid picture of a condemned and isolated outpost of civilization that, for contemporary readers, will recall the otherwordly reality of Macondo in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.
…Strikingly powerful, convincing, and impressive. — The New York Times
This is a tragic story, deeply moving, and by means of the figures that pass through it, relentlessly depicts the Russia that so inevitably prepared the Revolution. The book is a classic in its own country, and it is obvious why. — The Spectator
The Golovlyov Family has been described as the gloomiest of Russian novels. Certainly the characters are all wretched or unpleasant, and the reader of the novels who professes that strange but common English attitude to literature: “Would I like to meet these people?” must leave the book alone. Shchedrin’s book is not gloomy; it is powerful. It communicates power. It places an enormous experience in our hands. How many realists simply indulge in an orgy of determinism and seek only evidence that indicates damnation….[Shchedrin] is not looking for quick moral returns. His method is exhaustive and not summary. The compensations of life are not moral; they are simply more life of a different kind. — V.S. Pritchett, The Nation
The whole novel is practically a picture of a complete dehumanization of human beings, of an absolute victory of matter over spirit. And as such it is strikingly powerful, convincing, and impressive. — The New York Times