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Set in Russia at the time of the First World War, Testament is the story of a friendship between two men – the narrator, Alexei Ottravesko, a career soldier who has returned to the army after several years in exile in Siberia for political activities, and Anton Scheffler, a radical lawyer who has volunteered for wartime military service.
When Scheffler refuses to obey an order to lead a detachment of men he considers unfit for duty back to the front, he is arrested and threated with court-martial. But communists and their allies, who hail him as a champion of the workers’ interest, decide to take up his cause.
First published in 1939, Testament reveals to us glimpses – from the battlefield and the Orshaskaya drawing-rooms, from street corners and prison camps – of the separate, precious lives of individuals fighting for the moral good. It is a novel steeped with political ideals, with philosophical truths, and with personal heroism.
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