The text under the title “Drawing Back the Curtain” by Denis Healey begins with the description of Russia in the early years after the war. The author speaks about the changes in looks at the Soviet Union, about its generation which analyzed the nature of totalitarianism. Mr. Healey believes no power could destroy national traditions which were rooted in centuries of history. After Stalin’s death the author says Soviet Communism carried the seeds of its own destruction, but it was no reason for laying beneath the surface. The author shares his views saying he was fascinated by Russia being a schoolboy.
Compared to their Western rivals Denis Healey admits that the great Soviet people seemed much superior, calling them film-makers of those days. The author says he was introduced with some examples of Russian Literature and Culture by his friend. But, he says, after the war his friend had disappeared, in all probability during the great purges. In the face of Mr. Healey it increased the bitter hostility for Soviet policies and made him feel animosity to the Soviet government which prevented the creation of genuine masterpieces in various cultural spheres. The author goes on to describe his visits to Russia.
The way he values the sightseeing deserves attention. He took the air in the Hermitage in Leningrad and the magnificent summer palace of Peter the Great overlooking the Gulf of Finland, its fountains sparkling in the autumn sun, its rococo buildings gleaming with white and gold. As the say goes butter never spoils the porridge, so Mr. Healey found the Kremlin not as a grimly functional building where the Party housed. To his great surprise he found the heart of old Russia as the mediaeval splendour of its palaces and churches, scattered among copses of birch and lilac.
Mr. Healey continues to tell he got a kick out of personal contact with the sixth formers in Leningrad school. He also called some members of creative intelligentsia, such as Sakharov, with his strong opposition to using hydrogen bomb, Solzhenitsyn, exposing the life in a labour camp, Yevtushenko with his poem Babiy Yar – people of unbending spirit, which could give a headache to the authorities for all that was done against them. It seemed too good to last, but it was a simple truth that the signs of cultural thaw were everywhere.
Lots of theatres, circuses and music halls were at people’s disposal. Anyone could visit them to their heart’s content. Mr. Healey wasn’t an exception to the rule. He swallowed them on the wing. Later the author assumes that the atmosphere got better when he came in 1963. He learned much from these visits to Russia, restricted though they were, and was to learn more still from later visits. He was buried in thought how much changes could affect all the aspects of life, and how useful were short visits when made annually.
While reading the text we come across many stylistic devices used by the author to make his speech more emotional. Striking example of this are such sentences as: “I had been fascinated by Russia… “, “I was impressed by pre-war Soviet culture… ” showing a tender attitude of Mr. Healey towards everything connected with our homeland. Lots of metaphors are also used: “The Russia of Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky and Herzen… ” – this means Russia isn’t a simple country, but motherland of many outstanding people. “No power could destroy its national traditions… “.
The author proves it’s impossible to clear out all the habits and traditions in people’s minds, gathered for centuries day after day. “… were giving headaches to the authorities… ” – persons making some troubles to those ruling our country. Mr. Healey uses the epithets to show the variety of his creativity and vividness of his language: “errate illusions”, “the bitter hostility”, “remarkable purity”, “grimly functional building”, “hair-raising obscenity”.
Examples of the contrast are present at the text not to concentrate on ordinary things and to feel the differences: as sad comedy rather than as tragedy with humour”, “a handsome vigorous young prophet of a better future, rather than as the wrinkled cynic”. “Kompository Verdi” and “Socialist Realism” are inverted commas, proving an interest of the author to the Russian Language and understandable words playing perhaps an important role for international community. Such stylistic device as hyperbola is also used in sentences: “like hurricane”, “a library of sense – impressions”. It seems to me the main thing Mr. Healey wanted us to understand is that people have much in common and have many differences but each race is extraordinary.