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by Jeffrey Brooks
The adoption of "Socialist Realism" by the first All Union Congress of Soviet Writers (17 August-1 September 1934) was a seminal event in Russian cultural history on a par with Peter's embassy to the west or Catherine's Instruction to her legislative commission. Henceforth literature and the arts lost some of their public identification with civil society and gained a formal place in the official culture of the Soviet era and in the overbearing discourse of leading newspapers such as Pravda. Writers and artists had to accept the metamorphosis of public discourse itself, as editors and journalists plunged into a kind of hyperreality in the face of the disjunction between the promises and results of stalinist policies. Those who lived through this crisis in public perception and experienced its outcome imbued "socialist realism" with its poignant contemporary meanings. "Socialist realism" was both less and more than a literary tradition: less because the meanings of the phrase depended so heavily on extra-literary commentaries, and more because these commentaries were always part of a larger system of authoritative discourse.

Scholars often stress aesthetic or political dimensions of socialist realism, e. g. art's function in state policy and links between political and cultural actors, or the interplay of art and tradition.

Among those who look to politics, Igor Golomstock underscores art's role in transforming "dry ideology into the fuel of images and myths intended for general consumption"[1] and Evgenii Dobrenko depicts the literary "representation of power" (vlast').[2] Others accent censorship and political interventions, including Stalin's.[3] Alternatively, some stress common interests and experiences among political and literary figures.[4] Among those who emphasize the aesthetic dimension, Regine Robin takes the longest view, tracing "the discursive base" of socialist realism forward from the mid-nineteenth century and arguing that by 1934 some form of realism was inevitable.[5] Katerina Clark sees a reworking of largely early twentieth-century traditions.[6] In contrast, Boris Groys argues that Socialist Realism arose from a convergence of the dreams of early-twentieth century avant-garde artists and the grand schemes of bolshevik leaders.[7] Lost, particularly in these cultural approaches is the historic moment of this phenomenon.

"Socialist realism" was a catch phrase in leading Russian newspapers and the newspaper was the context in which most Russians encountered it. The press presented it in tandem with other catch phrases such as "the active Soviet public" (sovetskaia obshchestvennost'), "heroism" and "the new people."[8] These phrases appeared primarily not in criticism of the arts but in commentaries on other subjects, and one can recover something of the original meaning of "socialist realism" as it pertained to subject, author and audience within this larger linguistic environment.[9]

Socialist realism has often been studied as if the phrase and the artistic phenomenon were largely identical. Yet equivalence between words in the press and their realization by writers and artists was never exact.[10] The phrase had one set of meanings as it was articulated in the newspapers, another at the congress, and a third in the world of the arts, where it was gradually enriched with various practices and experiences. For this reason, to equate the phrase with actual works of art or even statements of purpose by writers and artists is to lose its original thrust as it appeared to Soviet society in a very particular medium--the central newspapers.

The existence of a single overarching discourse, concentrated in the leading newspapers and legitimated by the full punitive power of the state, was a chief feature of Soviet society. Within this discourse Pravda was paramount.[11] Yet affixing officially sanctioned meanings to phenomena of daily life was not entirely a manipulative process. This huge linguistic operation, so baffling to the outside world, was driven in part by a very human need for public explanation.

Editors and authors produced newspapers following party directives of varying distinctness but the result, even in Pravda, was a discourse derived as much from the staff's spontaneous, if politically constrained, reactions to Soviet life as from the leaders' wishes. The newspaper was therefore also the work of people who verbalized their own experiences, lexicons and observations in an effort to make the world around them intelligible within the official given limits. Beyond the Moscow office, the editorial staff drew on dispatches and contributions from people whose experiences and loyalties ranged still further from the often divided purposes of party leaders.

The editors and journalists of the central press nevertheless produced an image of Soviet society that was accepted among a wide circle of friendly readers who had a stake in the system and were willing to believe in a public explanation that served their interests. The image was also acknowledged by the mass of the population who had no alternative. The resulting commentary in the 1930s increasingly resembled what M. M. Bakhtin, writing at that time, called an "authoritative discourse"; that is, a "monologic" discourse like religious dogma or accepted scientific truth, which has to be accepted or rejected in toto.[12]12

The acquiescence in and the acceptance of this discourse has much in common with what Vaclav Havel described in his essay "The Power of the Powerless." He depicted the impact of such a discourse in terms of a greengrocer who puts the slogan "Workers of the world, unite," in his window. The grocer does not think about the slogan but nevertheless upholds the system by accepting it. "The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore" Havel writes, "is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post- totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe."[13]13 The ideology, enshrined in public discourse, had the same function in the stalinist system--the difference being, however, that disobedience was much more severely punished, as Havel acknowledged when he called on people to begin "living in truth" by denying the ideology and therefore to face punitive but not lethal consequences.

When Pravda greeted delegates to the writers' congress on 17 August, 1934, literature and the arts moved to the fore of this preeminent discourse for the first time in Soviet history. The party newspaper printed speeches and summations of speeches, as well as editorials, commentaries, interviews and illustrations. "A Holiday of Soviet Culture" read the headline on the opening day and beneath it, in an almost quarter page poster by V. N. Deni, Stalin and Gor'kii grinned at each other as if they had planned a gentle prank (Pravda 8/17/34).

The contrast with previous coverage was striking. Pravda had given the arts barely a page per month in the early and mid-1920s, a page and a half at the decade's end, and two and a half pages in the first four months each of 1933 and 1934. But there were 50 pages of coverage in the two weeks of the congress. The size of the paper grew on some days from 4-6 pages to 8-10, and occasionally as much as half this space was allotted to the congress. And Pravda was not alone in its coverage of these events. The government paper, Izvestiia, the trade union paper, Trud, and even the tabloid peasant newspaper Krest'ianskaia gazeta, which appeared every other day at this time, all gave the congress nearly full, front-page coverage at the start and extensive attention as it progressed.[14]14

This effusive press coverage of writers and of the congress in 1934 was not fortuitous. The bolshevik reordering of the planet had begun to go seriously astray at the end of the 1920s, and a crisis occurred in the public understanding of the Soviet experience. Millions of rural people had died in the famine of 1930-1933 and urban living standards fell as well.[15]15 Although workers' conditions improved in 1934, rationing persisted another year, and the norms of the 1920s were unsurpassed in the 1930s.[16]16 The year 1933 was also the decade's worst for "excess deaths," the euphemism for murder and famine.[17]17 Soviet foreign policy was equally disastrous. Communist revolutionaries toeing Stalin's line went to their doom in China, and a triumphant Hitler destroyed the German Communist Party, which had likewise followed Soviet directives.

The writers met in the interregnum between the XVII Party Congress in January 1934, at which opposition to Stalin surfaced, and the slaughter of delegates after the assassination of Sergei Kirov in December of the same year. Robert C. Tucker dubbed the party gathering "the congress of victims."[18]18 It was a time when optimism was required and the public vision of the world constituted in the press began to be treated as a kind of hyperreality that active participants in Soviet society were constrained to accept if they were to function in their daily tasks. Socialist realism belonged to this larger recasting of the public discourse in the face of actualities that leaders and journalists alike may have found difficult to confront.

The phrase was sanctioned by a committee that Party leaders instructed in 1932 to form a writers union. Once adopted, it was attributed to Stalin.[19]19 Pravda printed a definition from the statutes of the new writers' union on the eve of the congress:

Socialist realism, the basic method of Soviet artistic literature and literary criticism, demands truthfulness (pravdivost') from the artist and an historically concrete portrayal of reality in its revolutionary development. Under these conditions, truthfulness and historical concreteness of artistic portrayal ought to be combined with the task of the ideological remaking and education of laboring people in the spirit of socialism (Pravda 5/6/34).

On the face of it, socialist realism seemed to concern the proper subject of literature and art. The authorities had prodded artists and writers before for positive portrayals of Soviet life but only haphazardly. Il'ia Il'f and Evgenii Petrov mocked these prescriptions in their famous sketch of late 1932 about a writer whose editor insists he create a truly Soviet Robinson Crusoe, complete with a party committee and the masses.[20]20 By 1934, however, the word "correctly" (pravil'no) and the idea of "truthfulness" (pravdivost') became measures of artists' and writers' success in fulfilling their assigned tasks. Censorship tightened and also in accord with the times it was no longer called by its real name but referred to by euphemisms.[21]21

Pressure on writers to sanction the official image of Soviet society increased. F. I. Panferov, the sole author Pravda reported addressing the XVII Party Congress, urged fellow authors, just after the carnage in the countryside, to portray peasants' socialist "joy" at collectivization (Pravda 2/10/34). Sheila Fitzpatrick called such descriptions of collectivized peasants "Potemkinism."[22]22 The fact that writers and artists participated in this fraud attests not only to a compulsion to say certain things about certain issues, but also to their acknowledgment of the imaginary realm of public discourse. P. F. Iudin, a bureaucrat added to the organizational bureau of the new writer's union in August 1933 by the Central Committee, explained simply that since truth was found in life itself the artist had only to represent it faithfully, for life was "more interesting than it is made to be in artistic literature" (Pravda 2/10/34).[23]23

Gor'kii, who now returned from abroad for the last time, also demanded that socialist realism be a creative reflection on the best of Soviet life. "We live and work in a country where feats of 'glory, honor and heroism' are becoming facts so familiar that many of these are already no longer noted in the press," he wrote (Pravda 4/22/34). He too blamed writers for being negative, for seeing life through the prism of the old critical realism, rather than its Soviet successor. Yet although a notion of the superiority of nature over its depiction in art can be traced back in Russian literary culture to N. G. Chernyshevsky, this demand that artists and writers replicate a certain image of life had another implication.

Pravda's editors and commentators had shaped the public image of heroism with portrayals of "feats" since the beginning of the first five year plan and collectivization.[24]24 With such stories, they also legitimated the public discourse itself and anchored their explanations of various aspects of Soviet life. These accounts had little to do with a new aesthetic or a return to some past notion of a "positive hero." On the eve of the congress Pravda's editorialist praised an exemplary aviator from Minsk, the manager of an air transport network (Pravda 8/16/34). On the day of the gathering a local correspondent hailed the three "best shock workers" who produced the seventy-five-thousandth tractor at a Kharkov plant. The newspaper for peasants, Krest'ianskaia gazeta, greeted the congress with a map of the country on which faces of "outstanding" (znatnye) kolkhoz workers were superimposed. The caption read: "Our great country is remarkable, our people are remarkable. Write remarkable books about this" (Krest'ianskaia gazeta 8/17/34).

"Heroism" also meant heroes and heroines, whose "feats" were big stories in the press. The great saga of 1934 was the air rescue of members of a scientific expedition and sailors from the Cheliuskin, a ship which became icebound in the Arctic in December 1933; that operation and the heroes' return trip to Moscow took place in spring and summer 1934. "The Country Rewards its Heroes," was Trud's headline when the Central Committee awarded the flyers who performed the rescue the title "Heroes of the Soviet Union" in April (Trud 4/21/34). Pravda on the same day gave the story the whole front page, including a huge photo-montage showing the faces of the heroes beside the shattered ship and mountains of ice.

Four months later, on the second day of the congress, the paper printed a large front page picture of the "heroic flyers" and the rescued "Cheliuskinites" lined up in Red Square holding flowers and waiting to shake hands with Stalin (Pravda 8/18/34). "Is it necessary to repeat the names of the seven heroes who plucked from icy captivity hundreds of Cheliuskinites whom half the world considered doomed!" read Pravda's leader (Pravda 8/18/34). The Cheliuskin rescue, together with great industrial projects, were symbols of heroism during the congress. "For us," Pravda explained on its second day, "the main figure, the main character in Soviet literature--consists of people from the Magnitogorsk Construction Site, the Dnieper [Dam] Project, 'the Cheliuskin,' the builders of a new life" (Pravda 8/18/34). Some of these people were actually brought to the congress and Pravda identified them by name, such as "Nikita Izotov, Stepanenko, Kaushnian, the best miners of the Donbas, holders of medals" (Pravda 8/18/34).

The organizers of the congress presented socialist realism in conjunction with its presumed subject matter: these highly embellished exemplary figures, whose very names called up a cheerful depiction of Soviet life, not heroic archetypes from nineteenth or early twentieth century literary tradition.[25]25 This was also the historic juncture at which the writers themselves became characters in the public narrative, a role they retained until the end of Soviet communism.[26]26 The headline over poster-artist Deni's picture of Stalin and Gor'kii on the opening day of the congress read, "To the Advanced Detachments of Soviet Culture, 'Engineers of Human Souls,' Writers of Our Great Motherland--a Fiery Bolshevik Greeting."

Writers and artists had been largely peripheral to the press for the decade after 1917, with the exception of the party favorite, Dem'ian Bednyi, whose doggerel had appeared regularly. Writers regained some of their prerevolutionary prominence in the late 1920s first with attention to nineteenth century authors: Pravda had commemorated the 75th anniversary of Gogol''s death and the 90th of Pushkin's in early 1927. Although these events compared poorly with the grandiose, state-sponsored Pushkin anniversaries of 1899 and 1936, the presumption was widely expressed that "A great epoch will not remain without great writers," in the words of critic Tikhon Kholodnyi (Pravda 3/25/27).[27]27

The first Soviet effort to canonize Soviet writers was Maxim Gor'kii's birthday celebration on 29 March 1928, which was planned when he agreed to return from Italy, as he did two months later (28 May 1928).[28]28 Commemorations of deceased Soviet writers Dmitry Furmanov and Vladimir Mayakovsky followed two years later. Pravda subsequently noted the 1933 anniversaries of the director Konstantin Stanislavsky and the writer Alexander Serafimovich, both of whom were still alive. These were also occasions to display the names and faces of other cultural figures who sent congratulations.

The writers' congress, however, was a production of another order. The sudden prominence of literati on the front pages of the newspapers beside airplane pilots and leading government officials let it be known that authors now belonged to the public drama of eager doers and officials. On the first day of the congress, the writers appeared in photographs inside the paper and in the Kukryniksy's drawing of "The Literary Parade" on page three (Pravda 8/17/34). These cartoonists, famous during World War II, depicted Gor'kii, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Radek and several other cultural chiefs reviewing a literary lineup that included Isaac Babel', who was pictured on a scrawny nag, civil war cap and spectacles askew. If the caricaturists made the writers seem too quirky for their newfound role, the newspaper's headlines, captions and commentaries conveyed another message, that the literary community was a natural part of Soviet society.

To be a writer now meant to be committed in public to promoting the Soviet project. The lead editorialist in Pravda began on the opening day:

Today in the capital of our state the All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers opened. Today from the tribune of the congress sound the words of the great proletarian writer Aleksei Maksimovich Gor'kii, summing up the flowering of Soviet literature and pointing out its path of further development.[29]29

The country honors its artists of the word, "engineers of human souls," the powerful detachment of the builders and creators of Soviet culture with a flurry of greetings and good wishes (Pravda 8/17/34).

Pravda pointedly eliminated neutrality as a literary option: "It is important that the overwhelming majority of writers, the creators of spiritual values, undividedly and unconditionally join with the party of Lenin- Stalin, the proletariat, the people of the Soviet country" (Pravda 8/17/34).

The word devotion (predannost'), with all its religious connotations, was utilized at this time (Pravda 8/24/34). The press from the late 1920s had cited heroic figures for their selfless devotion (predannost') to the bolshevik party.[30]30 By 1934, however, Stalin also figured in this political equation, and news stories about heroes were sometimes accompanied by their telegrams to the leader. Pravda published one from a group of flyers, whose round trip from Vienna to Moscow was covered on the opening day of the congress, and one from the writers appeared on the next day (Pravda 8/18/34). The writers' telegram appeared below the picture of the rescuers of Cheliuskin. It read in part: "Our own dear Iosif Vissarionovich, accept our greeting, our full love and respect for You, as a Bolshevik and a person, who with the intuition of a genius leads the communist party and the proletariat of the USSR and of the whole world to the last and final victory" (Pravda 8/18/34).

There was no longer any way within the public discourse to represent (or even imagine) a writer who was not an enthusiastic supporter of the system without designating him or her a public enemy. The union's organizer, P. Iudin, summed up this way of seeing the literary community in a speech printed on 4 September as a conclusion to the congress:

Soviet writers affirm openly before all the world in their works, with their books and at their first congress that they are proponents of the communist world view, that they are firmly behind the positions of Soviet power and that they are ready to give their whole lives as active fighters for the triumph of socialism in the USSR, for the victory of the proletariat in the whole world" (Pravda 9/4/34).

To situate writers in this authoritative discourse required the reimagination of aesthetic occupations; it was for good reason that the phrase "engineers of human souls," prominently displayed in Pravda on the opening day, was ubiquitous. It signified, as David Joravsky has pointed out, a "job category, an administrative slot."[31]31 Stalin made this clear in a 1934 interview with H. G. Wells.[32]32

Moreover, who could read "engineers" in 1934 without recalling the Shakhty trial of 1928 and the arrest of half the engineers and technicians of the Donbas, or the industrial party affair of 1930, which also had cut deeply into the technical intelligentsia.[33]33 "There turn out to be more wreckers among engineers and technologists than was thought possible at the time of the Shakhty trial," an editorialist observed a few months before that process got underway (Pravda 2/5/30). These "affairs," with their xenophobic overtones, undermined the professions and served notice that standards in all fields would be set from above.[34]34 Equally damaging for the standing of engineers and other experts had been Stalin's widely promoted slogans empowering cadres, "The Bolsheviks should master technology" (2/2/31) and "technology decides all in the period of reconstruction" (Pravda 11/22/32).[35]35 To equate writers with engineers under these circumstances was to bring literature into line with other occupations that had been reconstituted to fit the requirements of the emergent stalinist order.

The author of the lead editorial used the oddly sounding "master craftsman" (master) and "apprentice" (podmaster'e) "of the printed word" to express perhaps both the anachronistic character of literary work in the age of Soviet industrialization and the writers' location in the hierarchy (8/17/34). An engineer showed the prevailing sense of equivalent position and responsibility in a letter: "We are demanding and strict, We accept every book from you just as they accept a machine from us--only when certain that it will bear the maximum load" (Pravda 9/04/34).

Yet the phrase "engineers of human souls" was disingenuous in another respect: although the word engineers aligned the arts with the construction industry, the word souls (dushy) implied a spiritual function. And, even if writers were "the engineers of human souls" in this limited sense, Stalin and his colleagues were their architects. The effect was to expand not the writer's authority but that of the leader, the party and the state. This shift was explicit in the attribution of the term: "Our party and comrade STALIN" chose socialist realism as the path for Soviet literature and art," Pravda's editors had explained two weeks before the congress opened (Pravda 7/28/34). Significantly, Gor'kii was the only writer on the "Honorary Presidium of the Union," which was otherwise composed exclusively of party and Comintern officials, including Stalin.

With this change in conceptualization, metaphors of consumption and war that had dominated the arts and lent some dignity to the artists in the 1920s faded. The multi-faceted battle against capitalism, with room for many sorts of allies, was now displaced by a more limited struggle for construction, cadres, mastery and tasks. New metaphors of growth, building and of the artist's "path" (put') to full collaboration with the state arose.[36]36 The words "task" (zadacha) and "assignment" (zadanie) now prevailed, although military metaphors of "front" and "struggle" lingered on with new meanings. The front became one-sided; barricades became construction sites for artist-craftsmen and warring sides metamorphosed into builders and wreckers, a view congenial to some militants. The new public role for artists was narrower and more clearly identified in the press with specific directives from above.

These changes had begun in the cultural revolution. "If we look to the development of literature in the past year, then a simple question arises -- is our literature growing, can we speak about regular achievements in this area?" wrote a critic who viewed the profession as a growing structure (Pravda 1/29/29). Metaphors of art as construction occur in articles that filled over half the space given to the arts in the first four months of 1930 and 1933. Efforts to see the arts this way led to statements such as music critic Braudo's about a Ukrainian quartet: "The common growth of Soviet musical construction is unthinkable without the brotherly interaction of the creative and performing power of the union republics" (Pravda 1/10/29). Journalists also made literature a quantifiable product: "He wrote twenty volumes and more than 150,000 lines of fighting verses," wrote A. Efremin about Dem'ian Bednyi (Pravda 4/13/33). So commentators on literature echoed the passion for records in other fields, from mining to aviation.[37]37

The end of the self-judging function of professional criticism in the arts came gradually, however, without the startling trials that terminated the engineers' independence. Two types of authors commented on the arts in the press during the 1920s, those who wrote occasionally on cultural issues and those who did so regularly on one art form or another. Occasional critics wrote the larger more important articles, such as editorials; regulars reviewed individual works. Authors of general commentaries, often non-specialists, shaped the larger environment for the arts; reviewers and critics had a narrower function closer to the old professionalism. The authority of non-professional commentators to discuss the arts was inherent in the limitless executive power of the Soviet system: Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and other leaders commented freely on these subjects hardly distinguishing their personal tastes and judgments from official pronouncements. This kind of intervention began with the Soviet era and was common nearly to the end of it, but the Stalin era was its golden age.

When the editorial "we" replaced regular critical voices in the press, literature and the arts were no longer represented as occupations in which respected professionals determined quality and set trends. The new, frequently anonymous commentators who had supplanted regular critics during the late 1920s and early 1930s often affected a bullying tone and wrote as if they had a monopoly on truth, which, in their eyes, they did. "We judge the suicide of Mayakovsky like any withdrawal from a revolutionary post," rebuked one (Pravda 4/15/30). "But we have the right to demand more from [I. P.] Utkin," snapped another after praising a poet's first book (Pravda 2/06/27).

The Pravda of the 1920s had been but one authoritative word among many, however, whereas from the mid-1930s the newspaper was commonly thought to echo Stalin's voice.[38]38 "We have often and justly spoken about the fact that our artistic literature, especially drama, has fallen behind life and does not satisfy the growing needs and demands of the toiling mass," wrote the editorialist welcoming the Writers' Congress (Pravda 8/17/34). Who could challenge such a pronouncement? Yet this form of address was soon commonplace in Soviet public discourse.

Journalists also undercut literature as an autonomous occupation by depicting obsequious non-Russian writers at the congress.[39]39 Pravda gave non-Russians 20 percent of the articles and 12 percent of the space, and Izvestiia also featured them prominently:[40]40 in both newspapers they validated a new pan-Soviet art, with Russian art at its center.[41]41 Pravda showed them as artists who incorporated their national identities in themselves rather than in their works or literary resonance with any audience. The illiterate national folk poet of Dagestan, Suleiman Stal'skii, was one example. Pravda featured him early in the congress in both a large article and a picture beside Gor'kii, who welcomed him with the words, "I am simply happy that I see a real singer of the people" (Pravda 8/20/34). Pravda's reporter described Stal'skii as "one of the great talents of the country" (Pravda 8/20/34). The poet himself explained: "The best fruits of my creativity I give to the Soviet country. From this congress I bring my people hands full of literary fruits, those fruits that are grown by the great gardeners of life -- Stalin and his party" (Pravda 8/20/34).

Other writers were shown to be equally expansive. "The leader of our great party and the working class Comrade Stalin teaches us," said Turkmenian writer Tash-Nazarov (Pravda 8/23/34). "Our task is one: to fulfill the brilliant instructions of the leader of the party," explained the poet-functionary and head of the writers union of Belorussia, M. N. Klimkovich (8/24/34). Pravda's portrayal of such figures served to diminish all the arts.

The newspapers Krest'ianskaia gazeta and Trud paid little attention to the non-Russian writers but cast proletarian and kolkhoz authors in similar roles. The peasant paper in its special issue on the congress reduced the literary community to Gor'kii, Dem'ian Bednyi; the political-literary officials Zhdanov, Bukharin and Radek; and kolkhoz writers of tracts with titles such as The Sound of Tractors, How We Became Prosperous, and The harvest is in Our Hands (Krest'ianskaia gazeta 8/17/34). On the opening day of the congress Trud juxtaposed a front-page picture of Gor'kii and Stalin to photos of a dozen "worker authors" (Trud 8/17/34). "These are only examples from the thousands of talented representatives of the proletariat, who are creating a new socialist culture," read the text. Inside were features on bolshevik stalwarts D. Bednyi, A. Novikov-Priboi, A. Serafimovich and V. Mayakovsky, although the newspaper's subsequent coverage of the speeches at the congress was nearly as broad as Pravda's.

The final element that completed the definition of socialist realism in its historical context was the representation of a new audience. When the print market collapsed after 1917, the bolsheviks first envisaged a mass public with the state as intermediary between author and reader. They had imagined art then as a vehicle for education or, alternatively, as an instrument of class war. They deceived themselves about the nature of popular taste and chided writers for ignoring it (Pravda 3/2/24). They sponsored thousands of studies of readers and viewers from 1917 into the late 1920s, but the thrust of these investigations quickly shifted from questions about what people wanted to read to the testing and later chronicling of acceptable responses to favored texts.[42]42 This end was probably inevitable, since the leaders were never willing to accept the legitimacy of consumer demand and always insisted on their right to a monopoly in the cultural as well as the material and political spheres.

The quest for a common reader ended officially in the first five year plan, when Pravda and the rest of the central press demonstrably began to court the officials, cadres, and enthusiasts who comprised the active element of the Soviet body politic.[43]43 Prominent within this new group, at least on the local level, were representatives of the upwardly mobile communist former workers (vydvizhentsy) of whom there were more than three quarters of a million in the professions and skilled white collar jobs in 1933.[44]44 These people had also flourished in the party, which had over a million members and candidate members in 1927, of whom less than three percent had any higher education.[45]45 The contemporary term for this audience in the press was "the active Soviet public" (Sovetskaia obshchestvennost'), the bearer of official public opinion.[46]46 As an addressee for the arts, it was no less richly imagined than the proletarian and peasant readers of the earlier period.

The phrase first appeared in the 1920s.[47]47 The 1958 Academy of Science dictionary defined obshchestvennost' as "the advanced part, the advanced portion of society."[48]48 Katerina Clark notes that with the advent of the 1930s the little man was abandoned as the cornerstone of Soviet society; "Citizens were encouraged to look not alongside, to their 'brothers,'" she remarks, "but upward to the 'fathers.'" [49]49 James van Geldern points to "the strengthening of the center" and particularly the image of Moscow in the "mass culture" of the 1930s.[50]50 This new authority was embodied in the image of the "active Soviet public;" yet the image did not in any sense approximate "a new class" or an actual social grouping. Rather it was a fanciful construction that served, almost as in a dream in the Freudian sense, to express a wishful image of the body politic.[51]51

Sovetskaia obshchestvennost' included a range of figures, from Stakhanovites and minor officials to government leaders, who were united in the creative imagining of the politically active community itself, mediated by newspaper staffs.
Isaac Babel' invoked the dream-like quality of this public in his famous and tortured speech at the congress about how he respected the reader so much he had stopped writing. The beginning of the passage is famous; the end less so but more revealing.

I feel such boundless respect for the reader that I am mute from it and fall silent. Well, I keep quiet. (Laughter). But if you imagine yourself in some auditorium of readers, with about 500 district party secretaries, who know ten times more than all writers, who know beekeeping and agriculture and how to build metallurgical giants, who have traveled over the whole country, who are also engineers of souls, then you will feel that you cannot get by with conversation, chatter, high school nonsense. There, the discussion ought to be serious (Pravda 8/25/34).
Babel' did not have to imagine this audience; those who claimed to embody it were present at the congress, both among the thousand guests on the first day and later in still greater numbers. Pravda portrayed local chiefs and activists from around the country, who sat near the writers at the opening session, together with the Moscow elite and a few dozen sympathetic foreigners. The editors described the proceedings: "Beside the masters of Soviet artistic word, beside 'the engineers of souls' in the hall sit hundreds of readers, the best of readers. These are the outstanding people of the nation, the shock-worker heroes" (Pravda 8/18/34).

The newspapers produced more images of these readers during the course of the congress and Pravda depicted one gathering in which the writers faced 25,000 readers who were all representatives of Moscow institutions (Pravda 8/27/34). Commentators frequently identified this new public with the masses but the meaning of this transference was probably never in doubt. Several weeks before the congress an editorialist wrote: "The masses demand artistic literature of high quality imbued with the heroic struggle of the international proletariat, with zeal for the victory of socialism, reflecting the great wisdom of the Communist Party" (Pravda 7/28/34).

Most ordinary people, disenfranchised, effectively enserfed on collective farms or subject to powerful industrial authorities, could hardly be expected to demand anything of the kind. The leaders often attributed their own wishes to the masses, as they had even before they took power.

Millions of readers and viewers want the highest images of art; they avidly wait for their life and struggle, for the great ideas and deeds of our century to be shown in artistic works of great force and passion, in works that will enter the history of socialist culture, filling and organizing the thoughts and feelings, not only of contemporaries but of future generations" (Pravda 8/17/34).

A. I. Stetskii, chief of the Central Committee's department of culture and propaganda (of leninism) and a member of the presidium of the writer's union, spoke to delegates in the name of this public:

Comrades. Many representatives of our new readers have spoken here. They came from all corners of our Soviet country. They went to this tribune and said: we love you Soviet writers, we respect you, but we are waiting for you to give us new songs, new works in which flow new feelings and thoughts. We want you to create works which will inspire, which will call forward, which will reflect all our dazzling, colorful, many-faceted heroic life and work" (9/1/34).
These imagined readers served to situate literature and the new notion of socialist realism in the evolving ideological system. Babel' slyly alluded to this when he explained his silence before the 500 district party secretaries. Writers and artists sat before this imagined public like pupils at school. "The time when the writer sat for an exam for critics alone has passed," wrote Moscow writer V. G. Lidin (pseudonym for Gomberg), "now he sits for an exam before the whole country, before an enormous reader" (Pravda 8/24/34). The congress reverberated with demands for writers to learn, for "constant deep study," in the words of the Ukrainian writer I. U. Kirilenko, a member of the secretariat of the union (Pravda 7/26/34). And Stalin was the teacher of teachers, and all school metaphors pointed to "the Communist Party and its leader, the great man, the giant of bolshevism, the friend and teacher of Soviet writers Comrade Stalin," in the words of Kirilenko (Pravda 7/26/34). The moment that Stalin and the Party became school masters, writer-pupils lost their stature vis a vis their audience.

When Pravda showed writers and artists addressing this public of selected activists, officials, party cadres and the leaders themselves, including Stalin, they reified a restrictive body politic shaped by nearly twenty years of "Soviet Power." This imagined group included not only leading officials but also "the outstanding new people" whom journalists had been describing for several years.

There was a corporatist aspect to this construction of the audience in the sense that the emphasis was on the inclusion of certain groups and, by implication, the exclusion of others--the ordinary collectivized peasants, factory workers and many other people who comprised Soviet society.

The heroes of the press under these circumstances were identified with the new audience. On the eve of the congress, the influential columnist D. Zaslavskii concluded an article about the Ossetians with the demand that writers look at "the new socialist economy of the country, its culture, literature and new people" (Pravda 8/16/34). The following day M. Kol'tsov, another leading journalist, wrote in Pravda, "never were there in our country such people, such listeners, such brother readers" (Pravda 8/17/34). To write about these characters was to glorify not only the heroes themselves, but also "the conscious Soviet public" and a very restrictive idea of the nation itself.

Pravda presented writers at the congress standing weakly before the overweening authority of this new public. The Russian novelist L. N. Seifullina declared:

This is the first writer's congress in the world. Is it therefore surprising that we, the first delegates to this congress, find ourselves in confusion about what to say from this tribune? Should we teach how to write or speak about our devotion to Soviet power? Soviet power cannot doubt this devotion because being writers of the Soviet country, we cannot be hostile to this country (Pravda 8/26/34).

Iu. N. Libedinskii, another Russian writer, cited Gor'kii and alluded to a time when radicals of the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers intimidated moderates. "He said that the Party, in creating our organization, took away our right to command each other and left us the right to teach each other"(Pravda 8/26/34). Such statements were doubly revealing. The writers were supposed to be "new" or "outstanding" people themselves in the sense that the press used these terms--and some undoubtedly were. But many were not, and they fared poorly in this conjunction of author, subject and audience.

Pravda and the central press in 1934 presented writers and artists with an imagined public that ranged from enthusiastic activists and Babel''s local party secretaries to Stalin himself. This invented audience differed from the ordinary people queried in the early and mid-1920s, despite claims that it embodied "the masses." Here instead was an image that was disturbingly close to the actual authority that sent artists and writers to industrial projects and collective farms to study and perform, and others, largely peasants and political opponents, to die in prisons and camps.

But despite its power, this imagined world of the arts was not without dissent. The authority of the central press to redefine great works of Russian and world literature was challenged by writers who counterpoised many-faceted descriptions of cultural figures of the past. Luminaries of the Silver Age had looked to Gogol', Pushkin, Dostoevskii, Tolstoi, Chekhov and Turgenev for spiritual and aesthetic guidance, and some intellectuals' enchantment with them grew under Soviet power.[52]52 The meaning of this heritage changed, however, as the Stalinist government appropriated its treasures; and to contest it was an act of defiance. Yet what else could explain the passion of Bakhtin for Dostoevskii and Rabelais, or of Pasternak translating Hamlet at his dacha at Peredelkino in 1939 and finding something of "incomparable preciousness."[53]53

A less familiar example from Pravda itself was critic, children's writer and translator Kornei Chukovsky's essays in the 1930s on Pushkin, Shakespeare, Nekrasov, Shevchenko, and other Russian and foreign writers.[54]54

Intellectuals who wrote about classics in Stalin's time, sometimes even in Pravda, helped to create a counter-canon by seeing writers as moral witnesses to life, just as some scientists occasionally used scientific anniversaries to defend science as a profession.[55]55 Such writers often counterpoised a humane sensibility similar to Isaac Babel''s fanciful "internationale of good people" to official idealism.[56]56 A dissident counterimage emerged of the artist as witness, victim and preserver of memory.

This differed from prerevolutionary intellectuals' views of writers as cultural heroes not so much in the content of the commentaries as in their context. The classical writers, particularly the leading nineteenth century Russian writers, emerge from such accounts as vital, independent personalities with strong moral feelings about the issues of their day. "It is a truth universally acknowledged," writes Gregory Freidin in his moving biography of Osip Mandel'stam, "that the famous poets of modern Russia, Mandel'stam among them, have a personal following that borders on a cult."[57]57 The sources of this modern counter-cult of the writer go back to the early revolutionary era.[58]58

By the 1930s, however, writers and artists were confronted with compelling, politically charged official images of their presumed subject matter, of themselves as creators and of the audience to whom their work was addressed, thus shaping a dialogue out of which a contrary veneration of the artist emerged.[59]59

The world in which this happened was not a simple one. Socialist realism was only one catch phrase in a complex and often contradictory public discourse. Its meaning depended on other signifiers that appeared beside it. The critical interpretative context for socialist realism as it was developed in the press was not a single-minded totalitarian project, a series of political interventions, a body of aesthetic principles and practices, or past traditions of Russian literature and criticism. Socialist realism as articulated in the context of 1934 concerned not only the subject, author and public for all the arts, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the representation of the whole Soviet project in an age of calamities. Yet even if one were to find a secret order from Stalin or Zhdanov or Gor'kii explaining that Socialist Realist novels would have to include a positive hero, heroic acts, optimism, references to Stalin and so forth, the meaning of these constructs depended on the larger public discourse which was beyond the power of any one of the leaders to articulate or fully shape. There was no master plan to create the positive heroes, deferential intellectuals, "active Soviet public" or any of the other vital aspects of the discourse on which the slogan of socialist realism depended at the moment of its inception.

To read revolutionary novels of the 1920s, such as F. Gladkov's Cement (1925) and S. Serafimovich's The Iron Flood (1924) as "socialist realist," or even to identify the aims of the artistic avant-garde of the 1920s with socialist realism is to confuse the radical values of the early revolutionary years with those of the 1930s. Over time, aspects of socialist realism may have become associated with aesthetic conventions or perhaps even specialized discourses of the sort which Bakhtin, writing in the year of Stalin's death, termed a "secondary speech genre."[60]60

But the literary practices linked with the catch phrase at the outset represented a negotiation between writers and cultural authorities with reference to the authoritative public discourse as a whole. The balance in these negotiations tilted over time, particularly after Stalin's demise, toward professional cultural authority. Such changes accorded with the revitalization and increasing autonomy of literature and the arts, the strengthening of civil society and the gradual disintegration of the communist system.

That socialist realism ever became a literary tradition defined in its own right by writers or professional critics with internalized aesthetic standards is questionable. Yet if a body of literature is not of a literary tradition, what is it? Socialist realism of the 1930s was part of a larger system of authoritative discourse developed through an interactive exchange between leaders and their supporters. This interaction defined each of the elements of the literary work--author, subject matter and audience. From this perspective, socialist realism in the 1930s was neither part of a literary tradition nor simply the tool of a dictatorship, as it has sometimes been seen. Instead, it was a powerful mechanism by which the leaders and supporters of the stalinist system enlarged the domain of their moral and intellectual claims. The discourse and the literature it begot were shaped by an imperative to view the Soviet world other than through the catastrophes of that brutal era.


1. Igor Golomstock, Totalitarian Art in the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, Fascist Italy and the People's Republic of China (New York: Harper Collins, 1990), xii-xiv. See also Mikhail Heller, Cogs in the Wheel: The Formation of Soviet Man (New York: Knopf, 1988); V. Strada in "Le realisme socialiste," in Histoire de la litterature russe: Le xxe siecle -- Gels et degels, E. Etkind, G. Nivat, I. Serman and V. Strada, eds., (Paris: Fayard, 1990) III, 11; Gleb Struve, Russian Literature Under Lenin and Stalin, 1917-1953 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 275.

2. Evgenii Dobrenko, Metafora vlasti: Literatura stalinskoi epokhi v istoricheskom osveshchenii (Munich: Otto Sagner, 1993), 74; see also V. Papernyi, Kul'tura "dva": Sovetskaia arkhitektura, 1932-1934 (Ann Arbor: Ardis,1983) for a discussion with an emphasis on architecture and Abram Tertz [Andrei Sinyavsky], The Trial Begins and On Socialist Realism, trans. Max Hayward (New York: Random House, 1965).

3. See Stalinism and Soviet Cinema, Richard Taylor and Derek Spring eds. (New York: Routledge, 1993) and narrower political treatments: Kh. Kobo, ed., Perestroika: Glasnost' demokratiia sotsializm. Osmyslit' kul't Stalina, (Moscow: Progress, 1989); V. A. Kumanov, 30-e gody v sud'bakh otechestvennoi intelligentsii (Moscow: Nauka, 1991); and A. Kemp-Welch, Stalin and the Literary Intelligentsia, 1928-39 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).

4. See particularly Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), 248, 256. Vera Dunham in In Stalin's Time: Middle-class Values in Soviet Fiction (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976); Matthew Cullerne Bown in Art Under Stalin (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1991); Peter Kenez in Cinema and Soviet Society, 1917-1953 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); and Dmitry and Vladimir Shlapentokh in Soviet Cinematography, 1918-91: Ideological Conflict and Social Reality (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1993) describe such interactions, but do not focus particularly on the early and mid-1930s.

5. Regine Robin, Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992) 78, 81; Rufus W.Mathewson, Jr. developed the notion of this hero earlier in The Positive Hero in Russian Literature 2nd ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975); see also Hans Gunther, ed., The Culture of the Stalin Period (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990).

6. Katerina Clark explains, "the only thing that was absolutely new about Socialist Realism was the term itself" (The Soviet Novel [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981], 29).

7. Boris Groys, The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, trans. Charles Rougle (Princeton: Princeton, University Press, 1992).

8. I draw on the ideas of Jacques Lacan for this notion of the linkage of signifiers. See his The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (New York: Norton, 1978), 198-99. The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek also describes the interdependence of "floating signifiers" in The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso, 1989), 87.

9. Michel Foucault developed the idea of a field of discourse in The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language (New York: Pantheon, 1972).

10. There is a philosophical literature on the issue of the difference between names and the objects named; see Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980).

11. Peter Kenez, The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917-29 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 228; Jeffrey Brooks, "Pravda and the Language of Power in Soviet Russia, 1917-28," in press in Media and Revolution, Jeremy Popkin, ed. (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press); idem, "Pravda goes to War," in press in The Heart of War: Soviet Culture and Entertainment, 1941-45, Richard Stites, ed.(Bloomington: Indiana University Press).

12. M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas, 1981), pp. 343-48.

13. Ian Vladislav, ed., Vaclav Havel or Living in Truth (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987), 43.

14. Krest'ianskaia gazeta, which was usually four pages, gave the congress a full front page on the 15 August (with the same photo of Stalin and Gor'kii which Deni used as the basis for his sketch in Pravda) and an undated special edition welcoming the congress with the same front page.

15. Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Alec Nove, An Economic History of the U.S.S.R. (New York: Penguin, 1989), 166, 198-99.

16. J. D. Barber and R. W. Davies, "Employment and Industrial Labor," in The Economic Transformation of the Soviet Union, 1913-45, eds. R. W. Davies, Mark Harrison and S. G. Wheatcroft (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 102-4.

17. Wheatcroft and Davies, "Population," in The Economic Transformation of the Soviet Union, 74.

18. Robert C. Tucker, Stalin in Power: The Revolution from Above, 1928-1941 (New York: Norton, 1990), 238-54; recent revelations have shown widespread opposition to Stalin at the time of the congress; see Boris Starkov, "Trotsky and Ryutin," The Trotsky Reappraisal, Terry Brotherstone and Paul Dukes, eds. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992) 78-82 and idem, "Narkom Ezhov," The Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives, J. Arch Getty and Roberta T. Manning, eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993) 23.

19. Kemp-Welch, Stalin and the Literary Intelligentsia, 120-32, discusses various attributions of the term including a statement by Stalin to a group of writers at Gor'kii's house in Moscow on 26 October 1932 in which he used the term to refer to artists who show "our life truthfully, on its way to socialism" (131).

20. The story is "How Robinson was Created," I. Il'f and E. Petrov, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo, 1961) 3:193-7.

21. A. V. Blium, Za kulisami "Ministerstva Pravdy": Tainaia istoriia sovetskoi tsenzury, 1917-29 (St.Petersburg: Gumanitarnoe agentstvo "Akademicheskii proekt," 1994), 11.

22. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Stalin's Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village after Collectivization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 16-17.

23. Brief notes on all the participants in the 1934 writer's congress appear in Pervyi Vsesoiuznyi s'ezd sovetskikh pisatelei: Stenograficheskii otchet 1934. Prilozheniia (Moscow: Sovetskii Pisatel', 1990), 81;

24. E. Dobrenko points to a conjunction of official heroes and fictional ones during this period in Metafora vlasti, 39-43; So does Richard Stites (Russian Popular Culture: Entertainment and Society Since 1900 [New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992], 66-72).

25. Kendall E. Bailes showed the patriarchal character of these representations with respect to pilots ("Stalin's falcons") in Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin: the Origins of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1917-41 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 386-89.

26. During 1936 Pravda devoted roughly ten pages per month to the arts, four times the pre-congress coverage.

27. The slogan "Create a literature worthy of our great epoch" was widely repeated (Trud 8/17/34).

28. Four years later the party leadership decided to name things after Gor'kii, according to Kemp-Welch (Stalin and the Literary Intelligentsia, 124).

29. The odd usage here, of Aleksei Maksimovich Gor'kii instead of the more familiar Maxim Gor'kii (pseudonym for Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov, accords with the pomposity with which these official figures were honored.

30. Jeffrey Brooks, "Revolutionary Lives: Public Identities in Pravda during the 1920s," New Directions in Soviet History, ed. Stephen White, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 27-40.

31. David Joravsky, Russian Psychology: A Critical History (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 329-30; Loren R. Graham (Science in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Short History [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993], 162), makes a similar point about Stalin's view of engineers.

32. Cited in Bailes, Technology and Society, 117-18.

33. Hiroaki Kuromiya, "Stalinist terror in the Donbas: A Note," in Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives, eds. J. Arch Getty and Roberta T. Manning (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 217; he cites L. I. Brodskii, "Ideino-politicheskoe vospitanie tekhnicheskikh spetsialistov dorevoliutsionnoi shkoly v gody pervoi piatiletki," Trudy Leningradskogo politekhnicheskogo instituta im. Kalinina, no. 261 (Leningrad, 1966), 73. On the Shakhty Affair more generally, see Bailes, Technology and Society.

34. Joravsky, Russian Psychology, 336.

35. In mid-1935 these were replaced by "Cadres decide all" (Pravda 5/6/35).

36. Abram Tertz (Andrei Sinyavsky) points out the importance of the final objective or purpose (tsel') and the path (put') in "Chto takoe sotsialisticheskii realizm," Fantasticheskii mir Abrama Tertsa (New York: Inter-Language Literary Associates. 1967), 409-14.

37. On the passion for records in aviation in early 1934, see Bailes, Technology and Society, 384.

38. Angus Roxburgh, Pravda. Inside the Soviet News Machine (New York G. Braziller, 1987), 29; he cites A. Gayev, "Kak delaetsyia "Pravda"', Ost-Probleme, no. 37 (1953): 1567f.

39. Participants writing in languages other than Russian constituted 48% of the Soviet delegates but many of the long speeches were by Russians. Figures on participation are in Pervyi vsesoiuznyi s'ezd, prilozhenie, v.

40. This was much less than their proportion at the congress by nationality (65%) but probably equivalent to their importance as calculated by length of speeches (see Pervyi vsesoiuznyi s'ezd, prilozheniia, 5). Izvestiia gave less front-page space than Pravda to the congress, featuring instead military and political news, but its coverage was also extensive.

41. Gerhard Simon, Nationalism and Policy Toward the Nationalities in the Soviet Union: From Totalitarian Dictatorship to Post- Stalinist Society, trans. Karen Forster and Oswald Forster (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), 138-45.

42. Jeffrey Brooks, "Studies of the Reader in the 1920s," Russian History, 2-3 (1982): 187-202; idem. "The Breakdown in the Production and Distribution of Printed Material, 1917-27," in Bolshevik Culture: Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution, ed. Abbott Gleason, et al. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 151-74; see also the resolution at the Twelfth Party congress in Kommunisticheskaia Partiia Sovetskogo Soiuza v resoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh, konferentsii i plenumov TsK 3 (Moscow: Izd-vo polit lit-ry, 1984), 108.

43. On these new cadres see: Sovetskaia intelligentsiia (Istoriia formirovaniiia i rosta 1917-65) (Moscow: Mysl', 1968), 141; Institut Marksizma-Leninizma pri TsK KPSS, Istoriia Komunisticheskoi partii Sovetskogo Soiuza 4, book 1 (Moscow: Politicheskoi Literatury, 1970), 480-81; Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union 1921- 34 (New York, 1979), 87-110, 171-73, 241; Moshe Lewin, The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia (New York: Pantheon, 1985), 241-57.

44. Sovetskaia intelligentsiia (Istoriia formirovaniiia i rosta 1917-65), 141; Fitzpatrick, Education, 87-110, 171-73, 241.

45. Istoriia Kommunisticheskoi partii, 4, book 1, 480-81.

46. There is perhaps no adequate translation for this term, but since obshchestvennost' was often linked with activism this seems most appropriate. Edith W. Clothes, Samuel D. Kassow and James L. West discuss the prerevolutionary usage of the term in their introduction to Between Tsar and People: Educated Society and the Quest for Public Identity in Late Imperial Russia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 3-9; Joseph Bradley and Gregory L. Freeze also comment on this theme in the same volume 146-47, 228-32.

47. Brooks, "Pravda and the Language of Power."

48. Slovar' Russkogo Iazyka, 2nd ed. (Moscow: Russkii yazyk, 1958), 2:576.

49. Clark, The Soviet Novel, 136.

50. James van Geldern, "Cultural and Social Geography in the Mass culture of the 1930s," in New Directions in Soviet History, ed., Stephen White (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 64.

51. On this notion of the dream as a discourse expressing a wish, which Freud developed in The Interpretation of Dreams, see J. Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, The Language of Psycho-Analysis, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Norton, 1973, 1993), 235-36. Jacques Lacan also writes suggestively on this in Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977), 256-61.

52. See Boris Gasparov et al., Cultural Mythologies of Russian Modernism: From the Golden Age to the silver Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).

53. The phrase is Pasternak's from a 29 April 1939 letter to his parents about Hamlet, quoted in E. Pasternak, Boris Pasternak Materialy dlia biografii (Moscow: Sovetskii Pisatel', 1989), 540.

54. Kornei Chukovskii, "Iz Dnevnika," Znamiia 11 ( November, 1992): 168. See his essay in Pravda on Nekrasov (3/5/39).

55. See for example Prof. Iu. B. Rumer's defense of quantum mechanics on Mendeleev's 100th birthday, in which he cites Bohr, Heisenberg, and others (Pravda 9/10/34); and the article by Prof. Ia. K. Syrkin, a chemist prominent after WWII, on Mendeleev in 1937 (Pravda 2/2/37).

56. The words come from his story "Gedali" and are spoken by the saintly character of that name.

57. Gregory Freidin, A Coat of Many Colors: Osip Mandelstam and his Mythologies of Self-Presentation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 12.

58. For a discussion of some of these issues, see Seveltana Boym, Death in Quotation Marks: The Cultural Myth of the Modern Poet (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991); on the cult of one writer in the 1920s and early 1930s, see Barbara Walker, "Maximilian Voloshin's House of the Poet: Intelligentsia Social Organization and Culture in Early 20th-Century Russia" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1994).

59. How lasting and diverse these literary cults became is apparent from the response to Avram Tertz's (Andrei Sinyavsky), Strolls with Pushkin (trans. Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy and Slava I. Yastremski [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993]) as Nepomnyashchy shows in her introduction and in the special issue of Russian Studies in Literature (winter, 1991-92) on this subject.

60. M. M. Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. Vern W. McGee, eds. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), 60-102.

... 60.

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