Places: The Don Flows Home to the Sea

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Tikhii Don, 1928-1940 (partial English translations, 1934 as And Quiet Flows the Don; 1940 as The Don Flows Home to the Sea; complete English translations, 1942 as The Silent Don; 1967 as And Quiet Flows the Don)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Historical

Time of work: 1918-1920

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Don River

*Don Don Flows Home to the Sea, TheRiver. River flowing south in central and southern Russia and emptying into the Black Sea. The events move along the lines of its predecessor volume, And Quiet Flows the Don. The grandeur of the Don continues to reign. During a flood, the river creates a small island in its middle that serves the civil war combatants as a final refuge. Even though the villagers, especially the Melekhovs, who live directly on the bank, are by now, in the fifth year of the war, exhausted and almost crushed by their constant sorrow, they seem to find solace and invigoration in the Don. Furthermore, some villagers, including those from the Melekhov family, find their tragic end in the waters of the river. When Gregor finally comes home after years of fighting all over the Don region, he crosses the river to get to his hut. He throws into the river his rifle and ammunition, as if finally making peace with himself and his friends and foes.


Tatarsk. Fictional village on the Don. In the later stages of the civil war between the Reds and the Whites it becomes a ghost village. Many of its inhabitants have perished or are on the verge of extinction. The sons of Tatarsk fight several battles, with variable success, but it is the Reds who prevail. The new winds of the revolution are blowing, but, unfortunately, they take with them many villagers, especially the leaders. The magnetism of one’s native village draws home Gregor, who returns to Tatarsk and the new rulers whom he had fought bitterly. Only his young son is waiting for him, as if to ensure the survival of the family name no matter what fate awaits Gregor.


Vieshenska (VYE-shen-ska). District center near Tatarsk. Like practically all Russian towns and villages, it changes hands several times in the civil war. In the latter stages, the Whites make the last effort to rise against the Reds, only to be crushed. It will continue to be the focal point of the area, although under different circumstances.


Yagodnoe (YA-gohd-no-ee). Country estate of the richest family in the Tatarsk region, now in its last days as a nobleman’s nest. The death of its owners signals the fundamental changes in Russia.


*Novocherkask (NO-vo-cher-KASK). Russian port on the Black Sea, where thousands of the opponents of the Reds, having been defeated completely and driven to the edge of a precipice, are boarding ships to go into exile. Gregor refuses to board, after his long-standing companions are rejected because of lower rank. Gregor turns back and joins the Reds.

Island on the Don

Island on the Don. Island created by the river during a huge flood, that serves as a hiding place for brigands whom Gregor joins out of desperation after he being rejected by the local Reds, even though he has fought with them against the Poles. The island brings on the last catharsis for Gregor, who realizes that his character is above that of the brigands and decides to return home for good, come what may.

Battle front

Battle front. As in the first volume, And Quiet Flows the Don, the front lines move steadily and furiously. Now they are moving farther south until the last remnants of the Whites are conquered. Many warriors are forced to change sides, like Gregor, with greater or lesser success. The toll, however, continues to rise. Mikhail Sholokhov does not chronicle the battles; he sticks with Gregor until his final decision to return home and face the consequences. The author leaves open the final fate of Gregor, as though unwilling to have him killed. Gregor becomes the symbol of the unspeakable tragedy of the Russian people, especially the Cossacks and peasants.

BibliographyErmolaev, Herman. Mikhail Sholokhov and His Art. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982. One of the best studies of Sholokhov and his works by a native scholar trained in the West. The Quiet Don is discussed extensively, especially regarding historical sources and Sholokhov’s use of them.Hallett, R. W. “Soviet Criticism of Tikhiy Don, 1928-1940.” The Slavonic and East European Review 46, no. 106 (1968): 60-74. A brief but substantive treatment of Sholokhov’s difficulties with the authorities in publishing the novel because of his objective presentation of the revolution.Klimenko, Michael. The World of Young Sholokhov: Vision of Violence. North Quincy, Mass.: Christopher, 1972. A useful study of Sholokhov’s early works, with the emphasis on The Quiet Don as the seminal work of the Russian literature about the revolution.Medvedev, Roy. Problems in the Literary Biography of Mikhail Sholokhov. Translated by A. D. P. Briggs. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1977. An informative book by a leading former Russian dissident concerning the famous controversy about the accusations of plagiarism against Sholokhov.Ruhle, Jurgen. “The Epic of the Cossacks.” Literature and Revolution. Translated and edited by Jean Steinberg. New York: Praeger, 1969. Studies of the relationship between literature and revolution, viewing the historical and political background of Sholokhov’s The Don Flows Home to the Sea.Simmons, Ernest J. “Sholokhov: Literary Artist and Socialist Realism.” In Introduction to Russian Realism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965. Discusses at length the basic dilemma in Sholokhov’s creative life–a conflict between art and politics.
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