Bitter Harvest: The Intellectual Revolt behind the Iron Curtain

Bitter Harvest: The Intellectual Revolt behind the Iron Curtain

Bitter Harvest: The Intellectual Revolt behind the Iron Curtain

Bitter Harvest: The Intellectual Revolt behind the Iron Curtain

Excerpt

This book is a collection of stories and poems, of literary and philosophical and political essays from Communist countries throughout the world. It is a collection which bears signal witness to the will of these countries' writers to break through ideological coercion and to achieve an independent and truthful expression of their own personal moods, experiences, and thoughts. It is also a collection which bears witness to the fact that writers and critics from Hanoi to Warsaw -- via Peking, Moscow, Leningrad, Riga, and innumerable other places -- are today seizing every opportunity which the lessening of terror and of official pressure provides to them for expressing themselves more freely. In such a collection of writings, a few basic questions usually arise: Do these selections testify only to the authors' longings and aspirations? Are these works justified merely as one or another "Description of a Struggle" (to quote the title of a story by Franz Kafka, that "decadent" author in whose writings some readers in Communist countries find more of their own real experience than they find in all the works of socialist realism)? Or are these outcries of protest, of despair, of anger, these searchings for truth, these strong affirmations of the humanistic creed -- are these also works of poetry, of literature, of philosophy? Could they stand on their own merit as works we would value even if we ignored the cir-

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