Not so long ago I read somewhere that a book published in 1908 was the blueprint for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo in June of 1914. This act of course inadvertently propelled the world into the WW1 conflict. [Obviously] I had to read this account and make up my own mind.
The author; Leonid Andreyev, a well thought of and accomplished writer, died in 1919 in Finland, although he was Russian by birth. He was known as ‘The Father of Russian Expressionism’; this expressionism is well defined in the book under review here.
It begins with the potential assassination crime near enough already resolved by the Russian police, the young, would be assassins are apprehended and the imprisonment begins. This is, from then on in, a well written, but short, course of events that happen to the five, plus two other people arrested for other crimes.
I am not a great story reader, but this is quite a superb short story, expressionism at its best in my humble opinion. It is almost as though the author had first hand knowledge of the innermost feelings of these condemned people.
I was looking forward to seeing how any correlation with the Princip assassination and this novella could be made, I found at best, a tentative connection, with the idea of the crime and the age group of the perpetrators as the only viable clues. I was both disappointed and glad I stumbled on this book: disappointed because it proved to be a red herring, but glad I have now read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Number 104 of the Penguin Classic series ‘Little Black Classics’; this book is excellent value for a decent quick read. Pocket book sized and easily read due to the rather splendid translation by Anthony Briggs.
Seven Hanged by Leonid Andreyev
978-0-241-25213-0|Penguin pbk Mar 2016