Bubennov, Mikhail Semyonovich. Born on 21 November 1909 (8 November, Old Style), in the village of Vtoroye Polomoshnevo in the Altai region. His grandfather was a peasant, and his father was a cabinet maker.

Bubennov spent his childhood in the village of Gueletovo, which, during the Civil War, became a center of the partisan movement in the Altai. The boy saw with his own eyes the reprisals of White punitive squads on the recalcitrant peasantry, he took part in tumultuous village gatherings, listened to speeches of the partisan leaders and he saw the partisans go off to battle, his father and grandfather among them.

In 1927, Bubennov left school and, for the next five years or so, was employed as a village teacher. He took an active part in the collectivization campaign.

Also beginning in 1927, Bubennov contributed to Siberian newspapers, writing poems about hunting, sketches of village life, articles about the Civil War, and short stories. In June of 1929 he traveled to Moscow to take part in the first All Union Congress of Peasant Writers.

Bubennov's first major work was Year of Thunder (Gremyashchi god, written 1929-1930, published 1932), about the establishment of kolkhozes in Siberia. At the same time, he worked on a tale about the creation of communes after the Civil War. Unfortunately, this manuscript was lost.

In 1930, Bubennov moved to Tatariya and worked as a school teacher in the village of Rybnaya Sloboda on the Kama River. In 1933, he became a full time newspaper correspondent for Krasnaya Tatariya and other publications.

Bubennov's stories and sketches of partisans and life on the kolkhoz appeared in various almanacs and collections, and his first collection of stories, At Flood Time (V polovod'e) was published in 1940.

Also in 1940, Bubennov published the tale Immortality (Bessmertiye), set in the Civil War. In this tale, the Whites sail a "death barge" down the Kama River. The barge's hold is full of prisoners--Bolsheviks and ordinary peasants--who are hauled out one by one to be shot or hung. The prisoners attempt a rebellion, partisans attempt a rescue, and everyone nearly drowns in a storm. After capturing Kazan, the Reds finally show up to liberate the barge.

Bubennov envisioned creating a longer work dealing with the struggle against the Whites and the armies of intervention in Siberia, but this work was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War (World War II). Bubennov was called to active duty and trained as a mortar man. His writing talents were judged more important than his mortar work, however, and he was sent as a correspondent to the front near Rzhev. Reporters for the divisional newspaper were forbidden to use second-hand sources in their writing, so Bubennov often was in the line of attack himself.

During his rare free moments, risking a reprimand for being distracted with "literary matters", Bubennov began work on The White Birch (Belaya Beryoza), a novel about the first stage of the war with its heavy defensive battles and grim days of retreat. The first volume of The White Birch was published in 1947 and awarded a State Prize in 1948. The second volume appeared in 1952.

Bubennov's next novel was Eagles' Steppe (Orlinaya step', 1959), followed by River Rapids (Stremnina, 1969), about the taming of the virgin lands. River Rapids was honored in 1970 at an All-Union conference on the best works of literature about the working class.

In his later years, Bubennov worked on an autobiographical tale, Life and Word (Zhizn i slovo, 1978-1979). Other works by Bubennov include Fire in the Taiga (Ogon' v taige) and Son of the Detachment (Syn otryada).

Mikhail Bubennov died in Moscow on 3 October 1983.
Soviet Literature Monthly, No. 6, 1957
Tverskaya Zemlya.


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