The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic, 1890-1934

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Northwestern University Press, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 243 pages
The past fifteen years have seen an important shift in the way scholars look at socialist realism. Where it was seen as a straitjacket imposed by the Stalinist regime, it is now understood to be an aesthetic movement in its own right, one whose internal logic had to be understood if it was to be criticized. International specialists remain divided, however, over the provenance of Soviet aesthetic ideology, particularly over the role of the avant-garde in its emergence.

In The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic, Irina Gutkin brings together the best work written on the subject to argue that socialist realism encompassed a philosophical worldview that marked thinking in the USSR on all levels: political, social, and linguistic. Using a wealth of diverse cultural material, Gutkin traces the emergence of the central tenants of socialist realist theory from Symbolism and Futurism through the 1920s and 1930s.
 

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Contents

Avantgarde Messiahs and the Quest for
21
The Political Culture of the Artistic
27
Culture
38
How Writers Became Engineers
51
Theater as an Instrument for Shaping
57
Symbolic
64
Chapter Three The Struggle with Byt as a Problem of
81
Chapter Four Revolutionary Paradigms of Ideal Humanity
107
Conclusion Historical Lessons of Socialist Realism
150
Works Cited
215
Index
233
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About the author (1999)

Gutkin is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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