Waiting for Something Unexpected
- BuyThe Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov, translated by Bryan Karetnyk
Pushkin, 167 pp, £7.99, November 2013, ISBN 978 1 78227 072 0
In October 1920, Gaito Gazdanov, then a young soldier, returned to his armoured train in the Crimea to find that it had been captured by the Red Army. He escaped in November by crossing the Black Sea to Constantinople with some of his fellow soldiers. He was one of more than 150,000 refugees – the sad remains of General Wrangel’s defeated White Army, along with any civilians who managed to make it on board – on a fleet of 126 ships. Like many of them, Gazdanov ended up in an overcrowded camp in Gallipoli funded by the French. France had bet on the wrong side in the Civil War, and was eager to stop supporting the camps. But it would provide a more permanent home for many of the refugees, among them some of Russia’s most important writers.