Kourdakov’s Use of Contrasts In His Autobiography

Contrasts are important in any kind of book, but more so in autobiographies. With novels, you can weave patterns and plots that are according to your own fancy. Autobiographies are a factual recount of a person’s life. Whether the book is exciting or not depends on the life of the person. Contrasts are very important because not only do they add color and spice to the story, but they make it easier to follow the book.

For example, in Kourdakov’s autobiography The Persecutor he explains his life as a Communist leader. He eventually loses faith in Communism and escapes to Canada. He was a secret police agent in Kamchatka province, Eastern Russia. He persecuted the Believers (Christians) until his conversion. A sharp contrast is made in the following example.

On a Sunday afternoon, Kourdakov and his twenty men went to a beautiful spot in the middle of the forest. They were there to disrupt a baptism ceremony of the Believers. They got there early, unpacked their lunch and vodka and made ‘an afternoon of it.’ Kourdakov makes a sharp contrast with the beauty and serenity of the scene and the chaos that ensued when they fell upon the Believers.

Another contrast is made between the leaders of the USSR and the leaders of the religious movements. The leaders of the USSR did not believe in Communism. They ate the best food and drank the best liquor, but they did not keep this job for Communism. They put up a good face, but that was all. Maybe they were in the job for the power, or the food, or the…whatever—but they were not in it for Communism.

So, the question is: Do these contrasts make his narrative more powerful? The answer is yes. They add interest and you can follow his thoughts and the storyline easier. You can also understand the outcome of the book better. Contrasts were an important part of Kourdakov’s autobiography. They should be an important part in every autobiography.

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