The Time is Night is a short novel by Liudmila Petrushevskaya. It is one of the few stories that I enjoy reading over and over again. The reason is that each time I re-read it, I perceive it in a slightly different way. The complicity of characters and the style of the novel is what I would like to emphasize most about the novel, as well as the fact that The Time is Night represents an outstanding social awareness of the author.
As an introduction, Liudmila Petrushevskaya writes that what readers are about to see is a diary that was sent to her by the daughter of the author of the diary after her mother's death. The notes that make up the diary are those of a woman, a poet, describing her living during the late 1980's, her children and her 4-year-old grandson Tima whom she calls Baby.
The woman's name is Anna. It is very symbolic to her; when people ask her what her name is, she replies,
"I am nearly a namesake of a famous poet. Guess, my name is Anna Andianovna." The poet she is a "namesake" of is Anna Andreevna Akhmatova, one of the most symbolic poets of the silver century of the Russian poetry. Anna carries this cross through her entire life. There are only two roles she has: a poet and a woman defending a child from misery and starvation. I assume she is not a really good poet, she never gets published and gets very little money but that is not the point. She says that she writes for herself, if she stops, she will die. This is very true. The two main themes of the novel seem to be loneliness and misery.
Several times in the diary Anna says that she writes it for her daughter, the one who later sent the notes to Petrushevskaya. But it seems to me that what she has written represents the dialogues that remained unpronounced, because no one ever wished to listen to her or was able to understand her. This person was very lonely, though in her diary she mentioned very many people. Most of them were as miserable as she was. They did not play any role in her life, they just defined the atmosphere around her. It was...