Soviet Literary Characters: An Investigation into the Portrayal of Soviet Men in Russian Prose, 1917-1953

By Jeanne van der Eng-Liedmeier | Go to book overview

II
LITERARY TYPES IN THE SECOND PERIOD (1929-1934)

The typical Five-Year Plan literatur1 can in a certain sense be compared to the early works of the first period dealing with civil war and revolution. As it was then not the revolutionary but the revolution which mattered most, so now it is not the fate of the worker which forms the centre but the fate of the factory or the kolchoz, which is being built. The stress is laid on man's participation in collective work; his personal experiences are entirely subjected to this social task. But unlike the works of the first period there is a tendency to avoid tragic aspects; optimism prevails, the defeat of the worker is excluded2

____________________
1
The first Five-Year Plan officially began on 1. October 1928, but we take the year 1929 as the beginning of this period: the literary works of the Five-Year Plan that we found did not appear until that date.
2
This development is closely bound up with a chance in the Party's attitude to literature; books are regarded exclusively as a means of propaganda in the service of the Five-Year Plan activities (Party resolution of December 28, 1928). The ideas of the left wing proletarian groups prevailed; right wing critics like A. Voronskij had been set aside in 1927. Authors were given a definite theme: the heroism of socialist construction and the class-struggle, and a definite type of man to be described: the hero-of-labour (Party resolution of August 15, 1931). The Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP) was obliged to carry out this programme. Voronskij's ideas, however, had not yet lost their influence: he had stimulated a considerable part of the proletarian writers to more self-criticism; some of them had designed a literary theory and advocated a kind of psychological realism, based on Marxist principles (cf. Tvorčeskie puti proletarskoj literatury, 1929, 2, where this theory is expounded by Averbach, Fadeev, and Libedinskij), but this programme did not tally with the much cruder demands of the Party and was sharply attacked (cf. J. Sekerskaja, "Teoretičeskaja putanica", Peçat' i revoljucija, 1929, pp. 23-38). The attempts of these proletarian writers to give a psychological portrait of the Soviet man were severely criticized (cf. A. Kamegulov, "Pis'mo tovariščam", Peçat' i revoliucija, 1930, 5-6, pp. 39-9, who attacks Čumandrin's Byvšid geroj, S. Semenov Natal'ja Tarpova, Šolochov Tichij Don, and Libedinskij's Vysoty and Roždenie geroja). The attacks on Libedinskij Roždenie geroja culminated in an official Party condemnation. At last the RAPP was dissolved (Party resolution of April 23, 1932): the theory of the portrayal of 'living man' and his individual psychology was expressly condemned in a Pravda article of 9 May 1932 (quoted by V. Ivanov, l.c., pp. 195-6). For a detailed survey of this period, see E. J. Brown, l.c., p. 87ff.

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Soviet Literary Characters: An Investigation into the Portrayal of Soviet Men in Russian Prose, 1917-1953
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Foreword 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • I - Literary Types in the First Period (1917-1929) 11
  • II - Literary Types in the Second Period (1929-1934) 75
  • III - Literary Types in the Third Period (1934-1941) 107
  • IV - Literary Types in the Fourth Period (1946-1953) 129
  • Conclusion 157
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index of Authors 171
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