World: Stalinsville on the Styx

Private Vaslly Terkin was the eternal Sad Sacha, and his fictional military exploits poked sly fun at Soviet officerdom throughout World War II. Russians complained mightily when his creator, Poet Aleksandr Trifonovich Tvardovsky, failed to bring him home from the wars. Last week, to their delight, Vasily was back—with a difference.

The soldier's return was chronicled in a subtle, stylish new poem by Tvardovsky that was spread across two pages of Izvestia under a warmly approving introduction by Editor Aleksei Adzhubei, Khrushchev's son-in-law. In Stalin's day, for all his buffoonery, Terkin ultimately had...

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