Dersu the trapper
Dersu the Trapper (Dersu Uzala) is the title of a 1923 book by the Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev. It is an undisputed classic of life in Russia’s far eastern forests.
Arsenyev’s book tells of his travels in the Ussuri basin in the Russian Far East. Dersu was the name of a Nanai hunter (who lived c. 1850–1908) who acted as a guide for Arsenyev’s surveying crew from 1902 to 1907, and saved them from starvation and cold. Arsenyev portrays him as a great man. From 1907, Arsenyev invited Dersu to live in his house in Khabarovsk as Dersu’s failing sight hampered his ability to live as a hunter. In the spring of 1908, Dersu bade farewell to Arsenyev and walked back to his home in the Primorsky Krai, where he was killed. According to Arsenyev’s book, Dersu Uzala was murdered near the town of Korfovskiy and buried in an unmarked grave in the taiga
http://www.dersuuzala.info/ (English section)
Arseniev, a Russian geographer, ethnographer and geologist who surveyed the Taiga, the vast forest region of eastern Siberia, on three separate occasions between 1902 and 1907, knew the real Dersu Azala for some 19 months. The Dersu that appears here, is actually a composite character, combining the real Dersu with myths about the primitive lifestyle and heroic deeds of “noble savages” in the manner of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. All three expeditions described in this memoir entailed life-threatening danger from blizzards, rainstorms, lack of food, wild animals or hostile natives?and all ended with Dersu’s instinctive knowledge saving the day. In a stock ending to the meeting of civilized and savage, Arseniev persuaded Dersu to come with him, but his friend could not adapt to restrictions of life indoors, preferring the rigors of is old nomadic existence to the spurious comforts of city life. Burdened by an awkward, outdated translation, this somewhat repetitive memoir still sustains interest as it recounts the adventures of two exceptional friends. Film buffs will also recognize it as the basis for Kurosawa’s 1975 Oscar-winning movie, Dersu Azala.