Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Mikhal Sholokhov is eminently qualified to describe the Don region. He was born there. Though not of Cossack ancestry, he spent practically all his life there, wrote almost exclusively about life on the Don and, most importantly, was able to paint a remarkably objective picture of the civil war around the Don.
Tatarsk. Fictional village in the northern part of the Don’s course, the home of the Melekhov family, and the place where the novel begins and ends. It is a typical Russian peasant village of modest huts and little else except for fertile fields and river banks. Life is hard but gratifying. The biggest drawback is its relative isolation from the rest of the world, so that news reaches Tatarsk slowly and, when it does, the peasants usually do not know what to make of it. However, what they lack in education, they make up for in their natural intelligence and hard work. Though Tatarsk itself is not always described in precise detail, the reader gets the impression of a vibrant life expressed in joy and sorrow, love and hate, work and play, and the everyday inspiration villagers derive from the majestic Don. The name itself hints at a Melekhov ancestor, a Turkish (Tatar) beauty brought to the village and married to Gregor’s grandfather.
Vieshenska (VYE-shen-ska). Town near Tatarsk, a district center, where the Tatarsk villagers go to buy provisions they cannot produce themselves and to take care of official business. When the revolution enveloped the region, Vieshenska played a significant role for both the Red revolutionaries and their opponents, the Whites.
Yagodnoe (YA-gohd-no-ee). Country estate near Tatarsk, home of important characters in the novel, where Gregor and his lover Aksinia find refuge as workers, after falling out with their families.
*Petrograd. Russian city formerly (and now again) known as St. Petersburg that plays a short but important role in the novel. When the first signs of the revolution manifested themselves in Petrograd, some Tatarsk inhabitants happened to be there. This gives the author a chance to bring the peasants closer to understanding this historical event.
*Rostov. Large Russian port at the confluence of the Don and the sea, the final destination of many participants in the struggle between the Whites and the Reds.
Battle front. Several battles between the warring sides are located on both sides of the Don. These scenes are not described geographically in great detail. Instead, the author dwells on the combatants’ behavior, especially their bravery and ferocity. Most of the battles occur in or near Tatarsk. None of them was in itself crucial for the outcome of the struggle, but they each had a fateful impact on Tatarsk villagers, often resulting in death and property destruction.