Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

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

chapter 16
POSTMODERNISM AND SOTS-REALISM From Andrei Sinyavsky to Vladimir Sorokin

Alexander Genis


1.

T he development of contemporary Russian literature can be likened to a classic love triangle, comprised of the avant-garde, socialist realism, and postmodernism. At the same time, the relationship between the postmodernists and the previous generation of Russian writers is reminiscent of the nineteenth-century struggle between "fathers" and "sons." A striking example of the current tension was the speech delivered by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in the winter of 1993, on the occasion of his being awarded the honorary medal of the National Arts Club in New York. In this speech, Solzhenitsyn virulently attacked the postmodernists and linked them directly to the avant-garde. According to him, Russian postmodernism represents a contemporary variant of the old anti-cultural phenomenon that rejected all cultural traditions and values. The earlier version of this scourge was called futurism: the contemporary version is postmodernism.1

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