Maurice Baring’s 1927 Novel on Russia and Wartime Manchuria: Tinker’s Leave

Ten years after the sacred events at Fatima, Portugal, as well as a full decade after the 1917 Bolshevik revolutionary takeover in Russia, Maurice Baring — who knew the Russian language very well — wrote another book on Russia (and Southern Manchuria) set in the years 1904-1905, during the gravely consequential Russo-Japanese War, in which Japan was victorious.

Baring’s 1927 book was itself a novel and entitled Tinker’s Leave. It is essentially about a 27-year-old Englishman — Miles Consterdine — who gradually comes of age and unto a greater maturity, after his unexpectedly meeting some Russians in Paris and then taking — with their adventurous encouragement and with Alyosha Kourigene’s further companionship — an extended leave of absence from his family business in London in order to visit for the first time Russia and the Russian Far East during war. Miles will become increasingly haunted by Russia and by this cumulative experience in war and love — to include his innocent and abidingly pure experience with his first love, Elena Ilyin, a courageous and very memorable character herself.

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