The White Guard – post II

The blurb on the dust jacket of the book praises the description of Kiev describing it as the main character in the book but it takes until page 50 for it to be really introduced

Bullet points between pages 50 – 110

* Kiev is described in 1918 with a real love for the city coming through the description as well as a placing in a historical context with the German occupation, then the influx of Russian refugees following the revolution and also the opposition the city feels towards what was happening in Moscow

* Then there are a series of omens that indicate things are changing with firstly the ammunition dump on the top of Bare Mountain (remember Mussorgsky?) explodes, then the Germans release a communist insurgent Petlyura who starts to organise against them and then the Germans start to lose on the Western Front

“Only someone who has been defeated knows the real meaning of that word. It is like a party in a house where the electric light has failed; it is like a room in which green mould, alive and malignant, is crawling over the wallpaper; it is like the wasted bodies of rachitic children, it is like rancid cooking oil, like the sounds of women’s voices shouting obscene abuse in the dark. It is, in short, like death” pg65.

* The Germans start to pull out and those including Alexei and Nikolka who go off to do their duty, which they expect will be to garrison the town then march on Moscow when the White Army of Denikin arrives

* The recruits meet at their old school and are handed uniforms and get ready for potential action and all seem keen enough to emulate the troops at Borodino who repulsed Napoleon under the leadership of Tsar Nicholas I

* But things change overnight and the Hetman and their generals abandon them to 100,000 Red Army troops so the troops are dismissed and told to head back to their homes and forget about trying to fight against superior numbers

* The story then switches to take up the point of view of the communists who have moved troops up in a circle around the city and have started bombarding it with artillery

More to come…

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