Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

By Mikhail Epstein; Alexander Genis et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
THE 1960S AND THE REDISCOVERY OF THE OTHER IN RUSSIAN CULTURE Andrei Bitov

Slobodanka Vladiv-Glover


I. The Coming-Out of the Underground: Pushkin House

Until recently, the Soviet literature of the 1960s was regarded as a function of the post-Stalinist thaws, which initiated a more "honest"1 treatment of Soviet reality, emancipated from the generalities and clichés of the socialist realist canon. The explosion of lyrical poetry by Andrei Voznesensky, Evgeny Evtushenko, Robert Rozhdestvensky, Bella Akhmadulina and others, as well as the advent of lyricism in the prose of Yuri Kazakov, Vasily Aksyonov, Yuri Nagibin, Anatoli Gladilin--the so-called "young prose" writers of the mid-1950s and 1960s--have in the past been ascribed exclusively to the demise of Stalinism and socialist realism. Almost all the Western historians of Russian literature, from Marc Slonim to G. Hosking,2 adopt this line of argument.

While there can be no doubt that the process of de-Stalinization of Russian society was responsible for an upsurge in Russian arts and literature, it is not a sufficient explanation for the kind of cultural production set in motion in the 1960s; for the Russian poetry, prose, and art of this period did not materialize out of nothing, even

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