Russian Fiction and Soviet Ideology: Introduction to Fedin, Leonov, and Sholokhov

Russian Fiction and Soviet Ideology: Introduction to Fedin, Leonov, and Sholokhov

Russian Fiction and Soviet Ideology: Introduction to Fedin, Leonov, and Sholokhov

Russian Fiction and Soviet Ideology: Introduction to Fedin, Leonov, and Sholokhov

Excerpt

In nineteenth-century Russia, literature was the conscience of the nation; in the Soviet Union literature seems to have become the guilty conscience. The outpouring of fiction, poetry, and drama over the last forty years stands as the record, faithful or unfaithful, of the incredible achievements of men and women subjected to a process of prolonged and violent social change, but the vast tragedy of their lives has been muted by an optimism officially decreed as the prevailing atmosphere of literary creation. Perhaps for the first time in the history of literature art has utterly repudiated the subjective and the sensual and minimized the element of enjoyment, and the artist has been forced to kill within himself the desire to convey a personal vision of humanity in his work. The primary purpose of literature in the Soviet Union is to instruct, and the obligation of the writer is to employ his medium to instruct in conformity with the spirit and letter of the latest ideological position of the Communist Party. Thus literature and politics become identical in a controlled state.

As a great elemental human experience the 1917 Revolution released the minds and emotions of writers and turned them to a fresh dedication of their creative powers, to an emancipation of the spirit of man from the confining influences of the past. Even the leaders of the Party at that time, largely conservative in literature and still filled with nineteenth-century . . .

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