Captain Vrungel’s literary father was Norillag convict

Captain Vrungel’s literary father was Norillag convict

August 17, 2023

The writer Andrey Nekrasov, the author of the humorous story The Adventures of Captain Vrungel, was a sailor at first: in Murmansk he entered the trawl fleet as a sailor, went on ships in the North and the Far East.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In the 1930s, he began publishing sea stories. But real fame came to Nekrasov after the release of the famous story about the yacht Trouble. The Extraordinary Adventures of Captain Vrungel was published in a magazine version in 1937, and in a book edition in 1939.

During the War years, Nekrasov went to the front, where he was a military correspondent, joined the Writers’ Union. In 1944, with the rank of lieutenant, he was sent to the tribunal: he was given three years and sent to the North, to the Norillag.

The author of Vrungel did not leave autobiographical prose, where he would tell in detail about his stay in the Arctic. But in the book We were on Dikson, dedicated to the journey along the Yenisey on the ship Chkalov, he dedicated a chapter to the northern city – City in the Tundra:

“…Of course, we decided to go to Norilsk. We arrived at the station at midnight. The sun shone brightly. At the station, as at all stations, there was bustle, someone was shouting something to someone, someone sat in someone else’s seat, someone forgot his ticket. We sat in an ordinary train, in an ordinary car, and this was perhaps the most extraordinary thing on our trip…

Someday they will probably write a book about the battles that took place here between the harsh nature of the Arctic and man. From this book, the reader will learn that many years ago the first scouts went out into the winter tundra, that they almost died, falling into a cruel snowy environment. That they were thinking of retreating, because in summer everything sank here, and in winter snow fell in mountains on the path broken by man, and the wind compacted this snow so much that it had to be cut with real saws.

Probably, this book will also tell that step by step, having laid mountains of stone and ballast in the insatiable tundra, they first laid a narrow track here, then replaced it with a wide one; that they learned in advance to unravel the insidious surprises of permafrost, that they deceived the blizzard, forcing the wind not to block, but to clear the way in winter… But there is no such book yet, and we learned about all this from random stories of Norilsk fellow travelers”.

If you know the background, you can guess that the author was intimately familiar with Norilsk.

By the way, cartoonist Konstantin Rotov, who designed the first version of Vrungel, and also illustrated the magazine Crocodile, The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov, Old Hottabych, Uncle Styopa, practically shared Nekrasov’s fate. He was arrested for creating a cartoon ‘discrediting Soviet trade and Soviet cooperation’. After the forced labor camp in Solikamsk, he was sent to a life-long settlement in the village of Severo-Yeniseisky, Krasnoyarsk region.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told that the scientist Lev Gumilyov formulated his theory of ethnogenesis in Norilsk.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

August 17, 2023

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