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Four vaudevilles: Vasilii Shkvarkin’s comedies of the 1920s

by Rosh Ireland

Vasilii Shkvarkin’s career as a dramatist began and ended with the Stalin period, since his first play was performed in 1925, his last in 1951. While he has never been regarded as a playwright of the first rank, nonetheless his work includes two of the most popular comedies of the time – Vrednyi element in the 1920’s and Chuzhoi rebenok in the 1930s. He was generally regarded as outside the mainstream, yet there are many points of intersection between his comedies and the work of the major writers of those decades. Since Shkvarkin worked in that difficult and dangerous period (Ardov, referring to the tragic nature of his biography as a writer, declares that he can be compared only with Zoshchenko), there are features of his work which may well derive from the pressures of the times.

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