The Villain from Early Soviet Literature to Socialist Realism
Publication Year: 2013
Satire and the fantastic, vital literary genres in the 1920s, are often thought to have fallen victim to the official adoption of socialist realism. Eric Laursen contends that these subversive genres did not just vanish or move underground. Instead, key strategies of each survive to sustain the villain of socialist realism. Laursen argues that the judgment of satire and the hesitation associated with the fantastic produce a narrative obsession with controlling the villain’s influence. In identifying a crucial connection between the questioning, subversive literature of the 1920s and the socialist realists, Laursen produces an insightful revision of Soviet literary history.
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote
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This project received the generous support of the Tanner Humanities Center, where I was a Virgil D. Aldrich Fellow in fall 2000, and the Univer-sity of Utah, which awarded me a faculty fellowship in spring 2001; this year of leave was crucial to beginning my work on this manuscript, and I am most grateful. And in the fi rm belief that every public thank- you should include a ...
Note on Transliteration
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All texts are translated into English. When I have indicated the original Russian, I have used the Library of Congress system of transliteration. Surnames and the names of some institutions have been left in their most ...
Introduction: Scrounging in the Soviet Garbage Pit
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...to have had little use for the past except as scrap metal and spare parts for its literary factories and collective farms where the Communist future was always under construction. However, the villains who play such an important part in the socialist realist plot—the kulaks and obstructionists, bourgeois throwbacks and wreckers, saboteurs and Nazis—are creatures constructed ...
Chapter One: Writing a Precarious Balance
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...in son Was Created” (“Kak sozdavalsia Robinson,” 1933), a writer is assigned the task of composing a “Soviet Robinson Crusoe.” He obediently drafts the story of a sole shipwreck survivor, fi ghting the elements and bravely battling a hostile environment with only his wit and resourcefulness to aid him in the struggle. Remarkably, his manuscript is rejected on the basis that there is ...
Chapter Two: He Does Not Love Us When We Are Dirty
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...needed clean hands to make “pretty things.” On propaganda posters, in bro-chures, and in public lectures Bolsheviks preached the virtue of hot water, soap, and scrub brushes.1 Physical hygiene became a sign of mental hygiene which could only be accomplished with political hygiene. A 1920 propa-ganda poster entitled “Comrade Lenin Cleanses the Earth of the Unclean” ...
Chapter Three: Things That Should Not Be Found
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Congress, it was a well- worn truism that Soviet writers were to enlighten the proletariat and help build the Communist future. During the First Five- Year Plan, many of them had left their solitary writing lives for “direct participation in the construction of a new life,” getting down and dirty in their newly assigned roles as propagandists and correspondents at construc-...
Chapter Four: Lost in Translation
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...one of secret societies, censorship, arrest, and exile, as writers attempted social change through the printed word. Maksim Gorky’s Mother (1907), one of the earliest prototypes for socialist realism, ends with the title charac-ter beaten by tsarist police as she hands out propaganda pamphlets written by her imprisoned son. As the police close in, she assures the crowd of the ...
Conclusion: Writers Forward!
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...groups increasingly touted Lenin’s 1905 article on party literature as the de-fi nitive statement not only about party writers but about any writer in Soviet society: “Literature must become part of the common cause of the prole-tariat, ‘a cog and screw’ of one single great Social- Democratic mechanism set in motion by the entire politically- conscious vanguard of the entire work-...
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About the Author
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Eric Laursen is an associate professor in the Department of Languages and ...
Page Count: 185
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: SRLT