Berezhkov : The story of an inventor by Alexander Bek (Library of Soviet Literature)
Moscow : Foreign Languages Publishing House, [Undated]. Hardcover. 518 pages ; 20 cm. In original pictorial dust jacket. Fading to cover board. Lean to spine. Foxing to top pages edge. Date markings on flyleaf. No other markings elsewhere in book. Binding is firm.
"The poet has no career, he has a destiny"—is a favourite expression of Alexei Berezhkov, the hero of A. Bek's novel. In¬deed, this gifted inventor and de¬signer of aircraft engines had no career in the trivial traditional sense. His was an intensely vivid creative destiny.
A passionate, restless, quest¬ing spirit, Alexei Berezhkov drifted through life for quite a time "without a compass" before he came to realize that talent was, above all, a civic duty, and not merely "the revealing light" which owed nothing to the ex¬igencies of life. His work often brought him into contact with time-servers or simply shady characters living on the fringe of engineering like the bland smooth-tongued "Pussycat" Podraisky. A man of striking, forceful character and charm, keenly alive to the poetry of his profession, soaring to daring heights of design thinking, Be¬rezhkov came unscathed through the storm and stress, and re¬mained true to himself.
The contradictoriness of Berezhkov's character is reflected in the author's own peculiar at¬titude towards his hero—a blend of unconcealed admiration strongly tinctured with sober irony. There are times during the narrative when the hero seems to escape from the author's control and to start on a pattern of conduct all his own.
The life of Berezhkov is at once an eventful history of his invention and a history of the creation of a high-powered soviet aircraft engine.
Alexander Bek (born 1903) calls his novel an "uninvented story." Indeed, the book reads like a true biography. At the same time it is a biography of the author's native land. Alex¬ander Bek is one of those writers who have something of the research worker in their make-up. The leading theme of his writings is the life of the makers of new techniques, the pioneers in both science and life. The author is himself a man of rich experience. The son of an army surgeon, he joined up as a volunteer in 1919, and when the Civil War was over, worked at a factory and wrote articles and sketches about the life of the workers. At the Kuznetsk construction site, he collected considerable material for his first story. His early works, written during the thirties, were pub¬lished in a volume entitled Blast furnace Men (1946).
A. Bek served in World War II as a war correspondent and wrote a book in 1943-1944 called. The Volokolamsk Road, describing the immortal heroes who defended the approaches to Moscow.
In recent years A. Bek has written several short novels, the most interesting of which are Timofei the Open Heart and Young People.
No two books of Bek's are alike in style and characterization. In this respect, his latest novel Berezhkov, published in 1956, has a peculiar flavor nil its own.