Broken Tongues

Race, Sacrifice, and Geopolitics in the Far East in Vsevolod Ivanov’s Bronepoezd No. 14-69

in Sibirica
Author: Roy Chan
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Vsevolod Ivanov's 1922 Bronepoezd No. 14-69 spawned subsequent renditions in Russian and Chinese. The novella narrates the successful effort of a group of Red partisans in seizing an armored train delivering reinforcements in order to quell a rebellion in a Far Eastern town. This article examines the story's Chinaman (kitaets) Sin-Bin-U, a Red volunteer motivated by a desire to avenge himself against the Japanese. The most prominent marker of Sin-Bin-U's Chineseness is his tortured Russian, rendered nearly incomprehensible by his accent. Focusing on Sin-Bin-U's figuration, this article argues that Ivanov's tale and its subsequent incarnations in Russian and Chinese create a literary evocation of the complexities of linguistic hybridity, cultural contestation, and sovereign crisis in the Far East. Sin-Bin-U is thus interpreted as a paradoxical persona who oscillates between being an allegorical figuration of an internationalized Soviet subjectivity and a token of imperialist strife and victimization.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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