The arrest of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel in September 1965 marked a new era for intellectuals in the Soviet Union. It meant that the state had resumed, after Khrushchev’s fall, the jailing of writers who opposed the regime. But in the opening pages of Goodnight! we are given to understand that the   has at least temporarily changed its tactics since the bad old days of Stalin. Sinyavsky, a respected academic, has been nabbed off a Moscow street but is assured that he will not be beaten up. Physical torture hasn’t been used since before the Twentieth Party Congress of 1956, sniff his interrogators.

Judging the truth of this claim is a little tough, to say the least, but one infers that it was true in Sinyavsky’s case. Apparendy his six years of hard labor in the Gulag for...


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