This provocative work takes issue with the idea that Socialist Realism was mainly the creation of party leaders and was imposed from above on the literati who lived and worked under the Soviet regime. Evgeny Dobrenko, a leading expert on Soviet literature, argues instead--and offers persuasive evidence--that the aesthetic theories underpinning Socialist Realism arose among the writers themselves, born of their proponents' desire for power in the realm of literary policymaking. Accordingly, Dobrenko closely considers the evolution of these theories, deciphering the power relations and social conditions that helped to shape them.
In chapters on Proletkult, RAPP, LEF, and Pereval, Dobrenko reexamines the theories generated by these major Marxist literary groupings of the early Soviet Union. He shows how each approached the problems of literature's response to the presumed social mandate of the young communist society, and how Socialist Realism emerged as a conglomerate of these earlier, revolutionary theories. With extensive and detailed reference to supporting testimony and documents, Dobrenko clearly demonstrates how Socialist Realism was created from within the revolutionary culture, and how this culture and its disciples fully participated in this creative process. His work represents a major breakthrough in our current understanding of the complex sources that contributed to early Soviet culture.
Filmed in1966 and ’67, but kept from release for twenty years, The Commissar is unquestionably one of the most important and compelling films of the Soviet era. Based on a short story by Vasily Grossman, it tells of a female Red Army commissar who is forced to stay with a Jewish family near the frontlines of the battle between the Red and White Armies as she waits to give birth. The film drew the ire of censors for its frank portrayal of the violence faced by Russian Jews in the wake of the revolution.
This book is the first companion to the film in any language. It recounts the film’s plot and turbulent production history, and it also offers a close analysis of the artistic vision of its director, Aleksandr Askoldov, and the ways that viewers can trace in the film not only his complex aesthetics, but also the personal crises he endured in the years leading up to the film. The result is an indispensable companion to an unforgettable film.
The Alexander Medvedkin Reader
Alexander Medvedkin University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress PN1998.3.M433A44 2016 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092
Filmmaker Alexander Medvedkin (1900–89), a contemporary of Sergei Eisenstein and Alexander Dovzhenko, is celebrated today for his unique form of “total” documentary cinema, which aimed to bridge the distance between film and life, as well as for his use of satire during a period when the Soviet authorities preferred that laughter be confined to narrowly prescribed channels. This collection of selected writings by Medvedkin is the first of its kind and reveals how his work is a crucial link in the history of documentary film.
Although he was a dedicated Communist, Medvedkin’s satirical approach and social critiques ultimately led to his suppression by the Soviet regime. State institutions held back or marginalized his work, and for many years, his films were assumed to have been lost or destroyed. These texts, many assembled for this volume by Medvedkin himself, document for the first time his considerable achievements, experiments in film and theater, and attempts to develop satire as a major Soviet film genre. Through scripts, letters, autobiographical writings, and more, we see a Medvedkin supported and admired by figures like Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, and Maxim Gorky.
George F. Kennan University of Chicago Press, 1985 Library of Congress E744.K3 1984 | Dewey Decimal 327.73
Drawing on his diplomatic experience and expertise, George F. Kennan offers an informed, plain-spoken appraisal of United States foreign policy. His evaluations of diplomatic history and international relations cut to the heart of policy issues much debated today.
This expanded edition retains the lectures and essays first published in 1951 as American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 and adds two lectures delivered in 1984 as well as a new preface by the author. In these additional pieces, Kennan explains how some of his ideas have changed over the years. He confronts the events and topics that have come to occupy American opinion in the last thirty years, including the development and significance of the Cold War, the escalation of the nuclear arms race, and the American involvement in Vietnam.
"A book about foreign policy by a man who really knows something about foreign policy."—James Reston,New York Times Book Review
"These celebrated lectures, delivered at the University of Chicago in 1950, were for many years the most widely read account of American diplomacy in the first half of the twentieth century. . . . The second edition of the work contains two lectures from 1984 that reconsider the themes of American Diplomacy"—Foreign Affairs, Significant Books of the Last 75 Years.
For more than sixty years, George F. Kennan’s American Diplomacy has been a standard work on American foreign policy. Drawing on his considerable diplomatic experience and expertise, Kennan offers an overview and critique of the foreign policy of an emerging great power whose claims to rightness often spill over into self-righteousness, whose ambitions conflict with power realities, whose judgmentalism precludes the interests of other states, and whose domestic politics frequently prevent prudent policies and result in overstretch. Keenly aware of the dangers of military intervention and the negative effects of domestic politics on foreign policy, Kennan identifies troubling inconsistencies in the areas between actions and ideals—even when the strategies in question turned out to be decided successes.
In this expanded sixtieth-anniversary edition, a substantial new introduction by John J. Mearsheimer, one of America’s leading political realists, provides new understandings of Kennan’s work and explores its continued resonance. As America grapples with its new role as one power among many—rather than as the “indispensable nation” that sees “further into the future”—Kennan’s perceptive analysis of the past is all the more relevant. Today, as then, the pressing issue of how to wield power with prudence and responsibility remains, and Kennan’s cautions about the cost of hubris are still timely. Refreshingly candid, American Diplomacy cuts to the heart of policy issues that continue to be hotly debated today.
“These celebrated lectures, delivered at the University of Chicago in 1950, were for many years the most widely read account of American diplomacy in the first half of the twentieth century.”—Foreign Affairs, Significant Books of the Last 75 Years
An American Diplomat in Bolshevik Russia
DeWitt Clinton Poole, Edited by Lorraine M. Lees and William S. Rodner University of Wisconsin Press, 2014 Library of Congress DK266.5.P66 2014 | Dewey Decimal 327.73047092
Diplomat DeWitt Clinton Poole arrived for a new job at the United States consulate office in Moscow in September 1917, just two months before the Bolshevik Revolution. In the final year of World War I, as Russians were withdrawing and Americans were joining the war, Poole found himself in the midst of political turmoil in Russia. U.S. relations with the newly declared Soviet Union rapidly deteriorated as civil war erupted and as Allied forces intervened in northern Russia and Siberia. Thirty-five years later, in the climate of the Cold War, Poole recounted his experiences as a witness to that era in a series of interviews.
Historians Lorraine M. Lees and William S. Rodner introduce and annotate Poole's recollections, which give a fresh, firsthand perspective on monumental events in world history and reveal the important impact DeWitt Clinton Poole (1885–1952) had on U.S.–Soviet relations. He was active in implementing U.S. policy, negotiating with the Bolshevik authorities, and supervising American intelligence operations that gathered information about conditions throughout Russia, especially monitoring anti-Bolshevik elements and areas of German influence. Departing Moscow in late 1918 via Petrograd, he was assigned to the port of Archangel, then occupied by Allied and American forces, and left Russia in June 1919.
If you were an independent, adventurous, liberated American woman in the 1920s or 1930s where might you have sought escape from the constraints and compromises of bourgeois living? Paris and the Left Bank quickly come to mind. But would you have ever thought of Russia and the wilds of Siberia? This choice was not as unusual as it seems now. As Julia L. Mickenberg uncovers in American Girls in Red Russia, there is a forgotten counterpoint to the story of the Lost Generation: beginning in the late nineteenth century, Russian revolutionary ideology attracted many women, including suffragists, reformers, educators, journalists, and artists, as well as curious travelers. Some were famous, like Isadora Duncan or Lillian Hellman; some were committed radicals, though more were just intrigued by the “Soviet experiment.” But all came to Russia in search of social arrangements that would be more equitable, just, and satisfying. And most in the end were disillusioned, some by the mundane realities, others by horrifying truths.
Mickenberg reveals the complex motives that drew American women to Russia as they sought models for a revolutionary new era in which women would be not merely independent of men, but also equal builders of a new society. Soviet women, after all, earned the right to vote in 1917, and they also had abortion rights, property rights, the right to divorce, maternity benefits, and state-supported childcare. Even women from Soviet national minorities—many recently unveiled—became public figures, as African American and Jewish women noted. Yet as Mickenberg’s collective biography shows, Russia turned out to be as much a grim commune as a utopia of freedom, replete with economic, social, and sexual inequities.
American Girls in Red Russia recounts the experiences of women who saved starving children from the Russian famine, worked on rural communes in Siberia, wrote for Moscow or New York newspapers, or performed on Soviet stages. Mickenberg finally tells these forgotten stories, full of hope and grave disappointments.
Russia has fascinated outsiders for centuries, and according to Alicia Chudo, it is high time this borscht stopped. In this hilarious send up of Russian literature and history, Chudo takes no prisoners as she examines Russia's great tradition of unreadable geniuses, revolutionaries who can't hit the broad side of a tsar, and Soviets who like their vodka but love their tractors.
Written in the tradition of 1066and All That, The Pooh Perplex, and The Classics Redefined, And Quiet Flows the Vodka will, with any luck, be the final word on the ghastly first two millennia of Russian literature, history, and culture.
The masters of Russian arts and letters are a prestigious fraternity that includes such renowned artists as Tolstoy, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. But alongside these luminaries stands a lesser-known but equally revered figure, filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Robert Bird offers in Andrei Tarkovsky an unprecedented investigation of Tarkovsky’s oeuvre and its far-reaching influence on world cinema.
Bird brings a novel approach to his dissection of Tarkovsky’s wholly original techniques and sensibilities, arranging the films into elemental categories of Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Solaris, Ivan’s Childhood, Mirror, Nostalgia, Andrei Rublev, and Sacrifice all get their due here; through them, Bird explores how the filmmaker probed the elusive correlation between cinematic representation and a more primeval perception of the world. Though the book also considers Tarkovsky’s work in radio, theatre, and opera—as well as his work as an actor, screenwriter, and film theorist—Bird throughout keeps his focus firmly on Tarkovsky as a consummate filmmaker.
Anchored by a wealth of film stills and photographs, Andrei Tarkovsky is a must-read for all film buffs and admirers of European cinema.
Anguish, Anger, and Folkways in Soviet Russia offers original perspectives on the politics of everyday life in the Soviet Union by closely examining the coping mechanisms individuals and leaders alike developed as they grappled with the political, social, and intellectual challenges the system presented before and after World War II. As Gábor T. Rittersporn shows, the “little tactics” people employed in their daily lives not only helped them endure the rigors of life during the Stalin and post-Stalin periods but also strongly influenced the system’s development into the Gorbachev and post-Soviet eras.
For Rittersporn, citizens’ conscious and unreflected actions at all levels of society defined a distinct Soviet universe. Terror, faith, disillusionment, evasion, folk customs, revolt, and confusion about regime goals and the individual’s relation to them were all integral to the development of that universe and the culture it engendered. Through a meticulous reading of primary documents and materials uncovered in numerous archives located in Russia and Germany, Rittersporn identifies three related responses—anguish, anger, and folkways—to the pressures people in all walks of life encountered, and shows how these responses in turn altered the way the system operated.
Rittersporn finds that the leadership generated widespread anguish by its inability to understand and correct the reasons for the system’s persistent political and economic dysfunctions. Rather than locate the sources of these problems in their own presuppositions and administrative methods, leaders attributed them to omnipresent conspiracy and wrecking, which they tried to extirpate through terror.
He shows how the unrelenting pursuit of enemies exacerbated systemic failures and contributed to administrative breakdowns and social dissatisfaction. Anger resulted as the populace reacted to the notable gap between the promise of a self-governing egalitarian society and the actual experience of daily existence under the heavy hand of the party-state. Those who had interiorized systemic values demanded a return to what they took for the original Bolshevik project, while others sought an outlet for their frustrations in destructive or self-destructive behavior.
In reaction to the system's pressure, citizens instinctively developed strategies of noncompliance and accommodation. A detailed examination of these folkways enables Rittersporn to identify and describe the mechanisms and spaces intuitively created by officials and ordinary citizens to evade the regime's dictates or to find a modus vivendi with them. Citizens and officials alike employed folkways to facilitate work, avoid tasks, advance careers, augment their incomes, display loyalty, enjoy life’s pleasures, and simply to survive. Through his research, Rittersporn uncovers a fascinating world consisting of peasant stratagems and subterfuges, underground financial institutions, falsified Supreme Court documents, and associations devoted to peculiar sexual practices.
As Rittersporn shows, popular and elite responses and tactics deepened the regime’s ineffectiveness and set its modernization project off down unintended paths. Trapped in a web of behavioral patterns and social representations that eluded the understanding of both conservatives and reformers, the Soviet system entered a cycle of self-defeat where leaders and led exercised less and less control over the course of events. In the end, a new system emerged that neither the establishment nor the rest of society could foresee.
The traditional narrative of the Russian Civil War is one of revolution against counterrevolution, Bolshevik Reds against Tsarist Whites. Liudmila Novikova convincingly demonstrates, however, that the struggle was not between a Communist future and a Tsarist past; instead, it was a bloody fight among diverse factions of a modernizing postrevolutionary state. Focusing on the sparsely populated Arkhangelsk region in Northern Russia, she shows that the anti-Bolshevik government there, which held out from 1918 to early 1920, was a revolutionary alternative bolstered by broad popular support.
Novikova draws on declassified archives and sources in both Russia and the West to reveal the White movement in the North as a complex social and political phenomenon with a distinct regional context. She documents the politics of the Northern Government and its relations with the British and American forces who had occupied the ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk at the end of World War I. As the civil war continued, the increasing involvement of the local population transformed the conflict into a ferocious "people's war" until remaining White forces under General Evgenii Miller evacuated the region in February 1920.
The “Silver Age” (c. 1890-1917) has been one of the most intensely studied topics in Russian literary studies, and for years scholars have been struggling with its precise definition. Firmly established in the Russian cultural psyche, it continues to influence both literature and mass media. The Archaeology of Anxiety is the first extended analysis of why the Silver Age occupies such prominence in Russian collective consciousness.
Galina Rylkova examines the Silver Age as a cultural construct-the byproduct of an anxiety that permeated society in reaction to the social, political, and cultural upheavals brought on by the Bolshevik Revolution, the fall of the Romanovs, the Civil War, and Stalin's Great Terror. Rylkova's astute analysis of writings by Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Nabokov, Boris Pasternak and Victor Erofeev reveals how the construct of the Silver Age was perpetuated and ingrained.
Rylkova explores not only the Silver Age's importance to Russia's cultural identity but also the sustainability of this phenomenon. In so doing, she positions the Silver Age as an essential element to Russian cultural survival.
Art of the Baltics is the first major survey of the development of modernist art in Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia during the post-World War II Soviet period. The contributors discuss and reappraise the art of Baltic artists working in modernist styles. They argue that Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian art did not develop in similar ways. Estonia, for example, had closer contact with Scandinavian countries, while Lithuania clearly was part of Central Europe, and was more influenced by Poland.
This book contains nearly three hundred illustrations—many in color—that serve to visually compare the art of the three Baltic countries. It also has three useful historical timelines that contextualize the art presented. In addition to historical overviews of each country, Art of theBaltics contains essays on the art of the region, written by both Baltic and American scholars. The articles extensively cover the Baltic art of the 1960s through the 1980s, which reflect the Zimmerli Art Museum’s holdings of the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. To round out the scope of this work, contributors also discuss the pre-Soviet art of the region, as well as the recent creative developments that resulted from these small countries gaining independence in 1991.
The first account of the August Trials, in which postwar Poland confronted the betrayal of Jewish citizens under Nazi rule but ended up fashioning an alibi for the past.
When six years of ferocious resistance to Nazi occupation came to an end in 1945, a devastated Poland could agree with its new Soviet rulers on little else beyond the need to punish German war criminals and their collaborators. Determined to root out the “many Cains among us,” as a Poznań newspaper editorial put it, Poland’s judicial reckoning spawned 32,000 trials and spanned more than a decade before being largely forgotten.
Andrew Kornbluth reconstructs the story of the August Trials, long dismissed as a Stalinist travesty, and discovers that they were in fact a scrupulous search for the truth. But as the process of retribution began to unearth evidence of enthusiastic local participation in the Holocaust, the hated government, traumatized populace, and fiercely independent judiciary all struggled to salvage a purely heroic vision of the past that could unify a nation recovering from massive upheaval. The trials became the crucible in which the Communist state and an unyielding society forged a foundational myth of modern Poland but left a lasting open wound in Polish-Jewish relations.
The August Trials draws striking parallels with incomplete postwar reckonings on both sides of the Iron Curtain, suggesting the extent to which ethnic cleansing and its abortive judicial accounting are part of a common European heritage. From Paris and The Hague to Warsaw and Kyiv, the law was made to serve many different purposes, even as it failed to secure the goal with which it is most closely associated: justice.
One of the world's preeminent scholars of Russian History, Geoffrey Hosking illuminates the social, cultural, and historical developments that created the need--and openness--for the political and economic changes that occurred in the late 1980's.
Reviews of this book: "The Awakening of the Soviet Union does more to help English speakers understand these changes than any of the dozens of books on the subject published in the past five years."
--Anthony Astrachan, The Nation
"The most useful and reliable guide to the chaos of the current Soviet Union...[Hosking's] grasp of the overall picture of the Soviet Union and of its history is solid and uncluttered."
"Among the most enlightening and informative accounts of what has already been one of the most amazing peaceful revolutions in modern times...[A] fine study."
--Adam B. Ulam, New York Times Book Review
"Geoffrey Hosking has...produced a series of almost timeless essays on the deeper currents of change and reform within the Soviet system."