This section* is mainly a dialogue between Rubashov, former People's
Commissar arrested for oppositionary tendencies, and the investi-
gating magistrate Ivanov. Just before the dialogue starts a former
friend of Rubashov's has been led past his cell to execution, with
the obvious intention of showing Rubashov the fate which is in
store for him. I have selected this dialogue as it gives one essential
aspect of the ethical problems underlying the book.
Rubashov was lying on his bunk again, without knowing how he had got there. He still had the drumming in his ears, but the silence was now a true silence, empty and relaxed. No. 402 was presumably asleep. Bogrov, or what had remained of him, was presumably dead by now.
" Rubashov, Rubashov. . . ." That last cry was branded ineffaceably in his acoustic memory. The optic image was less sharp. It was still difficult for him to identify with Bogrov that doll-like figure with wet face and stiff, trailing legs, which had been dragged through his field of vision in those few seconds. Only now did the white hair occur to him. What had they done to Bogrov? What had they done to this sturdy sailor, to draw this childish whimpering from his throat? Had Arlova whimpered in the same way when she was dragged along the corridor?
Rubashov sat up and leant his forehead against the wall behind which No. 402 slept; he was afraid he was going to be sick again.____________________
"The characters in this book are fictitious. The historical circumstances which determined their actions are real. The life of the man N. S. Rubashov is a synthesis of the lives of a number of men who were victims of the so-called Moscow Trials. Several of them were personally known to the author. This book is dedicated to their memory."