Russian Literature since the Revolution

Russian Literature since the Revolution

Russian Literature since the Revolution

Russian Literature since the Revolution

Excerpt

This anthology is conceived as a people's self-portrait, or, rather, since the word "portrait" fails to convey the sense of development, as a people's autobiography. The theme is Soviet life; the hero, Soviet Man; the aim, revelation of the Soviet Man's thoughts, attitudes, and springs of conduct.

In conformity with this conception and purpose, the material in this volume is presented less for its literary qualities (though these have not been ignored) than for the light it throws on Soviet history, sociology, and psychology. No item, however satisfying esthetically, is included if it does not at the same time help toward a deeper insight into Soviet life and the Soviet Man. Soviet ideals are deemed no less germane to the anthology's purpose than Soviet realities, and what the Soviet Man thinks of himself no less significant that what he is.

The "biographical" approach also accounts for the arrangement of the material. The four sections into which the main body of the book is divided correspond to the four distinct periods in Soviet history: Wartime Communism (1917-1921); the New Economic Policy or Nep (1921-1928); the Five-Year Plans of Industrialization and Collectivization (1928-1941); and the Second World War and the Post-War Period (1941-1947).

The novels, short stories, poems, and essays in each section are put together in such a way as to provide a comprehensive view of the given period's distinctive problems, tensions, trends, ideas, conflicts, and protagonists. In their totality, the four sections are calculated to provide a wealth of authentic information in the face of which no objective reader could long cherish myths of a Russian riddle and an iron curtain.

For the prime characteristic of Soviet literature is the ruthless realism with which it reveals the vicissitudes of Soviet existence. Even the most negative aspects of Soviet experience are shown up with extraordinary fidelity. Evil is unearthed, explored, exposed, and at times exaggerated with a fervor verging on self-flagellation.

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