Literary testimony combines the pragmatic function of attesting to historical events with the aesthetic function that becomes marked after their function as testimony has become redundant. Whereas the social identity of the target audience addressed impinges upon the shape of the work, the features of the address may be part of the work's abiding aesthetic value. The shape of the work is also sometimes affected by the need to circumvent the hurdle audience, that is, official or unofficial censorship that can obstruct its accessibility to the target audience. With the help of brief references to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Anatolii Zhigulin, this essay shows how the address to the target audience and the circumvention of the hurdle audience can influence the shape of works of testimony. It then turns to the complex relationship between the target audience and the general reader in the Gulag stories of Varlam Shalamov.

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