Sivan Beskin On:
Two Brothers by Evgeny Schwartz
“Two Brothers” is a unique and touching children’s story written by Russian writer, playwright and script writer Evgeny Shvarts (1896-1958). Shvarts worked with the literary group Oberiu, which was active in Leningrad (present-day Saint Petersburg) at the end of the 20’s and beginning of the 30’s of the 20th century. Among the more prominent members of the group were poets Nikolai Zabolotsky and Danill Kharms. Oberiu was, in fact, an avant-garde group that was drawn to the absurd and grotesque, but the hard times compelled it to express itself, to a large extent, in children’s literature, where the group could go wild, what could not be done in adult fiction, that was censured to the bone.
Shvarts’ children’s story seems at first glance relatively traditional, mainly because of it great subtlety, but a sympathetic reader will find the signs of that daring and free avant-garde spirit which characterized the wilder members of Oberiu. This unique touch is found in the small details of Two Brothers, which tells the tale of one brother’s dedication to the other, a dedication which is put to the test, fails and then triumphs once again.