Books: Socialist Surrealism

THE TRIAL BEGINS (128 pp.)—Abram Tertz, translated by Max Hayward—Pantheon ($2.95).

"Of course there will be a world revolution . . . Let me warm up something for you to eat," said Granny.

In the immemorial unrevolutionary manner of all grannies everywhere, this old Russian woman is giving soothing reassurance to her little grandson Seryozha, who has been developing adolescent doubts about the state religion. They are characters in The Trial Begins, perhaps the most remarkable novel to have come out of Russia since the Revolution 43 years ago.

The novel, really a philosophical...

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