BIBLICAL MOTIFS IN C.A.!S THE PLACE OF THE SKULL

 

Biblical motifs in Chingiz Aitmatov's The Place of the Skull
Canadian Slavonic Papers, Mar-Jun 1998 by Nina Kolesnikoff


E-mail Print Link The 1968 publication of Chingiz Aitmatov's Plakha (The Place of the Skull, in Natasha Ward's translation) created a heated discussion around the controversial topics of drug smuggling and ecology, the author's choice of a pair of wolves and a former seminarian as the main protagonists, and the complex juxtaposition of three separate story lines in one novel.l One of the most controversial questions proved to be Aitmatov's introduction of Biblical materials into the otherwise contemporary plot, and its significance for the novel's philosophical and ethical interpretation. 


13 Job Interview Mistakes To Avoid In assessing the role of Biblical references in The Place of the Skull, the critics reproached Aitmatov for his arbitrary treatment of the Bible. Vadim Kozhinov admonished the author for his distortion of the Biblical story of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus, his incorrect portrayal of Pilate as the chief culprit, and his depiction of Jesus as a liberal humanist strongly opposed to the Roman Empire.2 Similarly, Igor Zolotussk admonished Aitmatov for his oversimplification of the Biblical narrative of Pilate and Jesus, which Aitmatov presented as a polemic on the question of power and authority versus individual free will. He was also criticized for his depiction of Christ as a social revolutionary, who questioned the authority of the state, while defending the interests of the poor and the oppressed.3 The sharpest censure of Aitmatov's treatment of the Bible came from Sergo Lominadze, who accused the writer of misrepresentation of Biblical ideas, and the debasement of Christian teaching, particularly with regards to his rejection of the idea of the Last Judgment.4 The second major criticism of Aitmatov's treatment of the Biblical material was directed towards the striking similarity between The Place of the Skull and Mikhail Bulgakov's Master i Margarita. Lev Anninsk considered the Biblical episode in The Place of the Skull a paraphrase of the same story in The Master and Margarita,5 while Natalia Ivanova criticized Aitmatov for "placing the figures" in exactly the same positions as did Bulgakov fifty years earlier.6 And Sergei Averintsev reproached Aitmatov for following too closely Bulgakov's approach to Jesus as a historical figure, a tradition which, according to the critic, has been exhausted in Russian literature by The Master and Margarita.7

The criticism of Aitmatov's dependence on Bulgakov and its purported distortion of the Biblical story of Jesus and Pilate was carried out in a polemical fashion, without substantial analysis of the questions concerned.8 The purpose of this article is to examine these questions closely by juxtaposing Aitmatov's Biblical story with the New Testament and Bulgakov in order to identify both similarities and differences. More importantly, the article will also examine the links between the Biblical story and the rest of the narrative, and assess the role Biblical references play in a novel dealing with contemporary issues.9

The Biblical motifs are introduced into The Place of the Skull both in overt and covert forms. The most obvious instance is the embedded story of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus, inserted into the subplot that deals with Avd Kalistratov's attempts to change the world into his Christian ideals. The embedded story appears as Avd's delirium, following his confrontation with drug smugglers who throw him from a moving train. Lying semi-conscious by the railroad tracks, Avd hallucinates about Pilate's interrogation of Jesus. The link between the Biblical story of Jesus and the contemporary story of Avd is not coincidental, since Avd is portrayed in the novel as a modern Christ-like figure, preaching Christian ideas of forgiveness and love, and the rejection of evil.

Reconstructed in the mind of the delirious protagonist, the story of Pilate and Jesus retains most of the elements of the New Testament version.I0 For example, it preserves the same participants: Pilate and Jesus appear as the main protagonists; Caiaphas, the Jewish elders, Judas, and Pilate's wife are secondary characters. The embedded story also focuses on the same issues: the question of Christ's teachings in light of Roman law and it offers the same resolution: Pilate's confirmation of the Sanhedrin verdict of crucifixion.

Of the four Gospels depicting the episode of interrogation, Aitmatov follows most closely the Gospel according to John, which, rather than insisting on His silence, elaborates in more detail Jesus' responses to Pilate. Following the Gospel according to Matthew, Aitmatov introduces the motif of intervention by Pilate's wife, who, in the form of a note, pleads with her husband to release Jesus.

The most obvious difference between the New Testament story and Aitmatov's rendition is the generic change from an interrogation to a philosophical dispute. Whereas in the Gospels Jesus either refused to answer Pilate's questions or answered them briefly, in The Place of the Skull Jesus eagerly participates in the discussion and argues with Pilate about questions of truth, God, and the Last Judgment. In many ways, Aitmatov's story resembles a Socratic dialogue in which the interlocutors pronounce their opposing views and elicit each other's responses. Both Jesus and Pilate appear as ideologists, seeking and testing truth in a dialogic confrontation.

The Socratic dialogue is supplemented in The Place of the Skull with a psychological portrayal of both participants, especially of Pilate. Pilate is presented in the novel as a vain and self-centered man, convinced of his importance and omnipotence. He takes pleasure in interrogating Jesus, experiencing both curiosity and hatred toward Him. At the same time, Pilate tries to put himself in Jesus' place in order to understand His views and motivation. He wrongly perceives Jesus as a false prophet and usurper, who wants to gain power over the people.

In accordance with the New Testament tradition, Jesus is portrayed in The Place of the Skull as completely dedicated to His mission, refusing to renounce His views. Faced with His imminent death, He continues to believe in man's ultimate goodness and the process of self-improvement and perfection. He counteracts Pilate's philosophy of strength with the idea of good, based on the rejection of vice, violence, and bloodshed, and the acceptance of love for God and men.

While conveying the convictions and strength of Jesus the prophet, Aitmatov depicts some of the human qualities of His protagonist. Faced with the prospect of death, Jesus experiences anxiety and fear, which are manifested in His paleness, His profound sweating and the lump of terror in His throat. He admits to Pilate that He is afraid and at one point asks to be released.

Aitmatov's portrayal of Jesus' human nature is most evident in the story of the crocodile, invented by the writer and added to the Biblical episode.ll The story of Jesus' childhood encounter with a crocodile and His narrow escape serves as an example of Jesus' human reaction: His hope for another miracle and His concern for His mother. Like an ordinary human being, Jesus thinks of His mother at the moment of agony, and asks her forgiveness for the pain He will cause her with His death.

The second example of an overt Biblical reference appears shortly after the embedded story of Jesus and Pilate, in the depiction of Avd's search for Jesus on the eve of the Passover. Like the embedded story of Jesus and Pilate, Avd's search for Jesus is motivated by the protagonist's delirium: Avd hallucinates about coming to Jerusalem and desperately searching for Jesus in order to forewarn Him about the forthcoming betrayal. By shifting his protagonist to the year 33 AD, Aitmatov illustrates the theory of historical synchronism, based on man's mental ability to be simultaneously in different temporal dimensions separated by centuries or even millennia. Knowing the outcome in advance, Avd tries in vain to change the course of events.

In his delirium about Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover, Avd refers to Jesus as "Master," indicating his desire to be regarded as Christ's disciple. Indeed throughout the novel Avd appears as Christ's follower, preaching the ideas of goodness and self-improvement. In the novel Avd bears the name of King Ahab's governor who had saved a hundred prophets from execution and arranged a meeting between the King and the prophet Elijah to convince the people of Israel to renounce the pagan gods of Baal and to return to the true God.12 Following in the footsteps of his Biblical prototype, Avd tries to bring his contemporaries back to Christianity through writing on ethical topics for a Komsomol newspaper, and through preaching Christian ideas to drug runners and the "junta."

Following Christ's example, Avd preaches about good and evil, guilt and repentance, revenge and sacrifice. Like Christ, he is determined to propagate his ethical ideas, even at the cost of his life. The analogy between Avd and Christ is reinforced in episodes describing his conflict with drug runners and the "junta." In both instances, Avd is confronted by those who, like Pilate, believe in the power of strength and the philosophy of living for today. The confrontation between Avd and Grishan, the leader of the drug runners, follows the same pattern as the interrogation. In the form of a Socratic dialogue, Avd and Grishan present their arguments and test each other's convictions. The elements of a verbal polemic are more subdued in Avd's confrontation with OberKandalov. Here Avd's arguments against the inhuman slaughter of antelope is rendered indirectly in the form of a narrative summary while Ober-Kandalov's views are expressed in condensed form. Arguing for the idea of state power, Ober-Kandalov repeats the arguments of his Biblical predecessor.

As in the Bible, the verbal confrontation between Avd and his opponents is followed by a physical reprisal. Insensitive to Avd's plea to reject drugs and repent, the drug runners beat him violently and throw him from a train. The members of the "junta" stage a mock trial that is reminiscent of the New Testament's trial of Jesus conducted by the Jewish elders as guards mocked and beat Him.13 In similar fashion, the "junta" members torture Avd, scoff at his Christian ideas and decide to punish him by hanging him from a tree. The image of Avd tied to the tree and left there to die recalls the image of the crucified Jesus, dying on the cross. Like Christ, Avd pays with his life for his attempts to convince people of the need to strive for self-improvement and perfection.

Besides the Biblical story of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus and some references to events preceding it, The Place of the Skull introduces another Biblical motif, that of Judas' betrayal of Jesus.14 There are several references to Judas in the embedded story of Pilate and Jesus. The name of Judas of Iscariot first appears in Jesus' remarks concerning the incorrect interpretation of the idea of the Last Judgment. Jesus also makes the second extended reference to Judas in His description of Judas' act of betrayal:

I did not sleep, but was wakeful in prayer and, summoning up my courage, was intending to tell my disciples of this vision vouchsafed me by the Father, when suddenly a great crowd appeared in Gethsemane, with Judas among them. Judas swiftly embraced me, kissing me with his cold lips. "Hail, Master!" he cried to me, but before that, he had said to those he came with, "He whom I shall kiss, He is the one. Take Him" (p. 148).

Two more references to Judas appear in Avd's delirium about Jerusalem. Aware of Jesus' Last Supper with His apostles, Avd attempts to forewarn Him about Judas' betrayal. Having failed in his search for Jesus in Jerusalem, Avd rushes to Gethsemane, but does not find Him there either, since "Judas had already done his work and they had seized Him and led Him away" (p. 158).

The New Testament story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus does not have a straightforward analogy in the contemporary narrative. Nevertheless, it serves as a prototype for another embedded story, "Six and the Seventh One," introduced into the narrative as a purported Georgian ballad recalled by Avd during the concert of a Bulgarian choir.ls The story "Six and the Seventh One" depicts events from the Civil War in the Caucasus. It shows the Cheka officer Sandro infiltrating a group of counter-revolutionaries led by Guram Dzhokhadze. After a failed ambush to capture Guram and his men alive, Sandro decides to kill them. He carries out his plan during a farewell gathering on the eve of the group's selfimposed exile. Faithful to his task, Sandro kills Guram and his followers, but in the end he takes his own life.

The ballad "Six and the Seventh One" reproduces several components of the Biblical story of Judas, including the figure of the traitor, the act of betrayal, the monetary reward and the traitor's suicide. As in the Biblical story, Sandro appears as a follower of the man he must betray, although in the ballad he simply assumes the role of a follower in order to carry out his plan. Like Judas, Sandro is offered a large monetary reward and a promotion. Unlike Judas, Sandro is forced to kill Guram and his men himself. Having done so, he takes his own life.

In addition to the Biblical story of Judas, the ballad introduces the Biblical motif of the Last Supper.16 In this case Guram and his followers stage a farewell party on the eve of their departure from Georgia. But unlike the apostles, the six Georgian fighters know that this is their last supper together, that they will never again see each other or their native country. As in the Biblical Last Supper, Guram and his men share wine and bread, although not in a religious sense, but as symbols of a unique Georgian tradition. In accordance with that tradition the six men also sing and dance, and Sandro joins them, thus symbolically becoming one of them. By becoming a blood brother of the six men, Sandro has no other choice but to kill himself. The ending of the ballad, portraying the protagonist's decision to die, seems unjustified in the context of Soviet ideology, but it is in full agreement with the novel's philosophical and ethical connotations. Having trespassed the boundaries of human ethics, Sandro has no other choice but to end his life.7

The third Biblical motif to appear in The Place of the Skull is that of the Apocalypse and the end of the world.8 In his final remarks to Pilate, Jesus describes the vision He had the night before:

I was labouring under a strange premonition of total abandonment on earth; I wandered in Gethsemane that night like a shade myself, could find no peace, feeling as though I were the only sentient being left in the whole universe, flying over the earth and never seeing another living soul. Everything was dead; everything was covered with the black ash of some long-since-raging fire; the earth lay in ruins, no forests, no fields, no ships on the sea. Only a strange ringing sound filled the air, like a sad groaning in the wind, like a sobbing of metal deep within the earth, like a funeral bell (pp. 147-48).

Jesus acknowledges that his vision captures the fatal outcome of what all generations have been waiting for-the Apocalypse, the end of history for thinking beings. Significantly, Jesus' Apocalyptic vision reads like the destruction of the world by a nuclear explosion. In this terrifying vision, the end of the world comes not as a result of God's vengeance or some natural calamity, but because of the enmity of man.

The motif of the Apocalypse reappears in The Place of the Skull during a scene depicting a helicopter hunt in the Moiunkum steppe:

Suddenly, thunder from the sky; the helicopters were back. This time they flew fast and threateningly low over the terrified saigak, as they galloped in flight from the monstrous attack. So fast and unexpected was the approach that hundreds of shaken antelope, their leaders and sense of direction forgotten, flew in disordered panic. The harmless creatures were no match for flying machines. The helicopters were working according to plan: pinning down the fleeing herd and rounding on it in a pincer movement, they drove it towards another, equally large, that had been grazing nearby. More and more of the herds were drawn into the stampede, the cloven-hoofed creatures losing their heads completely in the panic of a catastrophe the like of which the savannah had not seen before. Not only for the cloven-hooves; the wolves, too, their inseparable companions and hereditary enemies, found themselves in exactly the same trap (pp. 24-25).

The helicopter hunt reads like an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world in which everything perishes. The helicopter hunt echoes closely the vision of nuclear destruction offered by Jesus in His dialogue with Pilate. The unscrupulous use of advanced technology to annihilate animals is the first step toward the total destruction of the world.

What is the function of the Biblical references in the narrative of The Place of the Skull? The embedded story of Jesus functions as the philosophical centre, evoking the idea of self-improvement and active involvement in the struggle against the forces of evil. In the Avd subplot, the struggle takes the form of a philosophical conflict between Christian love and compassion as opposed to the selfish pursuit of pleasure, manifested by the narcotics runners, or the aggressive cruelty to nature demonstrated by the "junta." In the Boston subplot, the conflict is presented in social terms as the struggle of honest, hard working people like Boston, against corrupted and immoral individuals like Bazarbai. The story of Jesus allowed Aitmatov not only to widen the temporal framework of the contemporary plot, but also to introduce some new semantic connotations. Thanks to the Biblical story, the novel focuses on the eternal struggle of good and evil, on the ethical choices facing each individual, and on the need for love and compassion.

In rendering the Biblical story of Jesus and Pilate, Aitmatov made it relevant to the problems of the late twentieth century, i.e., the destructive use of technology and the cult of military power. The apocalyptic picture of the helicopter hunt in the Moiunkum steppe echoes the terrifying vision of the end of the world, experienced by Jesus on the eve of His crucifixion. With that vision Aitmatov warns the twentieth-century reader of the consequences of nuclear technology and the philosophy of military confrontation. And he shows the danger of replacing the religion of Divine Power with the religion of military power.

The last issue to be examined in this article is the question of Aitmatov's indebtedness to Mikhail Bulgakov, whose novel The Master and Margarita has been called "the final chapter of the historical treatment of Jesus in Russian literature."19 Aitmatov's indebtedness to Bulgakov is undeniable both in the selection and the treatment of the Biblical material. Following Bulgakov, Aitmatov selects the same New Testament episode of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus, and presents it as a philosophical argument on the questions of spiritual and moral power versus the power of the state Like Bulgakov, Aitmatov concentrates on the depiction of two major characters, Jesus and Pilate, and makes only insignificant references to other participants, such as Caiaphas, the Jewish elders, or Pilate's wife.

Following Bulgakov, Aitmatov demystifies the image of Christ, portraying Him as a human being, fully immersed in ordinary life, and governed by human emotions. But unlike Bulgakov, Aitmatov depicts Jesus as a skillful preacher, spreading his ideas even on the eve of His crucifixion. In contrast to Bulgakov, Aitmatov places the main ideological burden on Christ, and casts Pilate in a subordinate role of a supporting actor. Remaining to a large degree an underdeveloped character, Pilate nevertheless appears as a personification of authority and state power, determined all along to confirm the verdict of the Jewish elders.

Departing from Bulgakov's depiction of the interrogation as the first step to crucifixion and of Pilate's subsequent attempts to appease his conscience by ordering the killing of Judas, Aitmatov focuses exclusively on the episode of interrogation. The interrogation emerges in The Place of the Skull as the central event that throws a special light on all other events depicted in the novel. While focusing primarily on the story of Jesus and Pilate, Aitmatov does not ignore other Biblical elements, associated with Jesus' last day and His crucifixion. He simply moves them into the contemporary story of Avd. Thus, the episodes of the Last Supper and of Judas' betrayal appear in Avd's recollections of the ballad "Six and the Seventh One," while the motifs of Jesus' trial and crucifixion are portrayed in the junta's administration of justice.

The second difference between The Place of the Skull and The Master ad Margarita stems from the different historical contexts into which the Biblical story of Jesus and Pilate has been incorporated. In The Master and Margarita, the Pilate subplot appears in a narrative dealing with the events of the 1930s. The philosophical argument between Pilate and Jesus on the question of individual responsibility versus state authority acquires a special significance when placed in the context of Soviet political reality. As noted correctly by Lesley Milne, the historically real plane of Moscow stands in a typological relationship to the Jerusalem narrative, while Pilate's dilemma concerning moral choice became the historical dilemma of the 1930s.21

In The Place of the Skull the Biblical story appears in the context of the 1980s, with the contemporary narrative addressing the social problems of drugs and alcohol, the ecological problems of the natural habitat, and the military problem of potential nuclear annihilation. While the actual setting of the contemporary narrative is restricted to Russia and Kazakhstan, the novel deals with universal questions facing the entire world.

The most important difference between The Place of the Skull and The Master and Margarita reflects the different philosophical connotations of both novels. In The Master and Margarita, the Pilate subplot is placed in an aesthetic context: it appears as the work of an artist within a satiric depiction of contemporary reality. In The Place of the Skull the Biblical episode appears in an ethic context, as the ultimate example of goodness and self-sacrifice that inspires contemporary characters to fight evil not with evil, but with love and compassion.

In accordance with their different philosophical connotations, the two novels convey the Biblical story in a totally different language. In The Master carl Margarita, the Pilate story is rendered in an elevated and solemn language, appropriate for a literary masterpiece created by the Master. In The Place of the Skull, the language of the Christ story resembles the language of contemporary Russian newspapers.22 It is a strange mixture of journalistic cliches, bureaucratic jargon, and formal language. This stylistic crudeness corresponds to the language of Avd, a self-taught journalist writing for a Komsomol newspaper.

Despite its stylistic crudeness, the Christ story remains a vital element of a novel, which underscores the dangerous imbalance between good and evil, and calls for a return to the Christian philosophy of love and forgiveness. With the help of the Christ story, The Place of the Skull conveys the message that the salvation of the world and of human values can be achieved only through conscience and repentance, sacrifice and courage. And that is exactly what Aitmatov's Jesus proclaims in His last words to Pilate:

I was born on earth, to serve as an undimmed example to men, so they should hope in my name and come to me through suffering, through the struggle with evil within themselves, day after day, through disgust with vice, with violence and bloodlust that all attack the soul if it be not filled with love for God and therefore for our fellows too, for men! (p. 143).

1 Plakha was first published in Novyi mir 6, 8, 9 (1986). The first book edition appeared the following year: Plakha (Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1987). 2 Vadim Kozhinov, "Paradoksy romana ili paradoksy vosprata," Literaturnaia gazeta, 15 October 1986: 4.

3 Igor Zolotussk, "Otchet o puti," Znamia 1 (1987): 221-40. 4 Sergo Lominadze, "Obsuzhdaem roman Chingiza Aitmatova Plakha," Voprosy literatury 3 (1987): 3543.

5 Lev Anninsk, "Skachka kentavra," Druzhba narodov 12 (1986): 246-52. 6 Natalia Ivanova, "Ispytanie pravdoi," Znamia 1 (1987): 216-20. Sergei Averintsev, "Paradoksy romana ili paradoksy vospra," Literaturnaia gazeta, IS October 1986: 4.

8 The Bible's influence on Plakha has been raised but not discussed in detail. See A. Krasnovas, "Prizyv i preduprezhdenie," Druzhba narodov 12 (1986): 246-52; S. Piskunova, V. Piskunov, "Vyiti iz kruga," Literaturnoe obozrenie 5 (1987): 54-58; A. Kosorukov, "'Plakha'-novyi mif ili novaia realinost'?", Nash sovremennik 8 (1988): 141-52.

9 Aitmatov's use of Biblical material has been discussed briefly in several Western studies. See Robert Porter, "Chingiz Aitmatov's The Execution Block: Religion, Opium and the People," Scottish Slavonic Review 8 (1987): 75-90; Guy and Victoria Imart, "Le Procurator, l'indig*ne et le billot: Une `soupe-ii-la-hache': Apropos du dernier roman de C. Ajtmatov," Cahiers du Monde Russe et Sovietique 28.1 (1987): 55-71; Rta Pittman, "Chingiz Aytmatov's Plakha: A Novel in a Time of Change," Slavonic and East European Review 66 (1988): 213-26; Gary Browning and Thomas Rogers, "Chingiz Aitmatov's The Executioner's Block: Through Dreams a Confrontation with Existential Good and Evil," Russian Review 51 (1992): 72-83. In his polemical article on Plakha, Anthony Olcott argued that the philosophical and religious connotations of the novel are more consistent with Islam than with Christianity; see, "What Faith the God-Contemporary? Chingiz Aitmatov's Plakha," Slavic Review 49 (1990): 213-26.

10 Cf. Matthew 27:11-26; mark 15: 1-15; Luke 23: 1-25; John 18: 28-40, 19: 116.

I I The story of the crocodile was excluded from the English translation of Plakha; see The Place of the Skull, trans. Natasha Ward (New York: Grove Press, 1989). This edition will be used hereafter.

12 I Kings 18:3-7. The name Avd/Obadiah designates several other people in the Old Testament, including the minor prophet after whom the book of Obadiah was named, cf. Obadiah 1. For more information on the origin of Avd's name see A. Pavlovsk, "O romane Chingiza Aitmatova 'Plakha'," Russkaia literatura I (1998): 118; N. Rubtsov, "Dostoinaia zhizn' na nashei planete," Moskva 1 (1988): 198.

13 Cf. Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:64; Luke 22: 63; John 18: 22-23. 14 Cf. Matthew 26:14-16, 21-25, 47-49, 27:3-10; Mark 14:10-11, 17-21, 4345; Luke 22:47-48; John 13:2, 21-30, 18:2-3.

15 Like the story of the crocodile, the ballad "Six and the Seventh One" has been excluded from the English translation of Plakha. 16 Cf. Matthew 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-38; John 13:1-38.

17 A. Kosorukov found the image of Sandro unconvincing, since it is constructed from two contradictory elements, cruelty and sentimentality; cf. Kosorukov 145. See also an interesting analysis of the tale in James Woodward, "Chingiz Aitmatov's Second Novel," Slavonic and East European Review 69 (1991): 201-20. 18 Cf. Revelations 6:12-17; 8:1-13; 9:1-6.

19 Averintsev 4.

20 Aitmatov's indebtedness to Bulgakov is discussed in Petr Tkachenko, "Vkus starykh istin," Literaturnoe obozrenie 5 (1987): 43-45, and Pittman 369-73.

21 Lesley Milne, Mikhail Bulgakov: A Critical Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) 255. See also J.A.E. Curtis, Bulgakov's Last Decade: The Writer as Hero (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

22 Several Russian critics commented on Aitmatov's unsuccessful modernization of the Biblical language; cf. N. Anastasev, "Obsuzhdaem roman Chingiza Aitmatova 'Plakha'," Voprosy literatury 3 (1987): 14-15; Lominadze 39-40; Averintsev 4.

Copyright Canadian Assosciation of Slavists Mar-Jun 1998
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

 

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What Faith the God-Contemporary? Chingiz Aitmatov's Plakha, by Anthony Olcott © 1990



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