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The Soviet Character - Short Stories
Author: Alexi Tolstoy

Publisher: Raduga Publishers
ISBN: 9785050011442
Pages: 252
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Ivanov, an exiled Russian and former military officer living in Berlin, has taken up employment as a barber; an apt position, Nabokov notes, as Ivanov's sharp facial appearance had earned him the nickname "Razor" in his earlier life. On a hot day, an unnamed character dressed largely in black enters the barber's, deserted save for Ivanov, and requests a shave. Ivanov quickly realises that the customer is a fellow Russian who, the reader gathers, tortured Ivanov during Russia's period of revolutionary upheaval. With the unnamed character sitting in the chair, his face lathered with shaving cream, Ivanov reminds him of their last encounter. Ivanov then proceeds begins to shave him, recounting their previous meeting while also strongly hinting at the effect that one slip of the razor could have. The reader half expects Ivanov to exact his revenge. But having told his story, Ivanov relents and the terrified and clean-shaven Soviet flees from the barber's.