FOR FREEDOM OF IMAGINATION by Andrei Sinyavsky

FOR FREEDOM OF IMAGINATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When Trotsky made his famous remarks about literature and ideology, denouncing ""formalism"" and demanding a ""realistic monism,"" little did he realize he was promoting a state of cultural barbarism far worse than any pre-revolutionary Russia had known. At his recent trial, Sinyavsky, celebrated in the West as the pseudonymous ""Abram Tertz,"" pointed out that to his adversaries ""literature is a form of propaganda, and that there are only two kinds of propaganda: pro-Soviet or anti-Soviet. If literature is simply un-Soviet, it means that it is anti-Soviet. I cannot accept this."" He is now serving seven years at hard labor in Siberia. This is particularly gross since Sinyavsky is first and foremost an aesthetician. His ""political"" satires, The Trial Begins and The Makepeace Experiment, are basically fantasies, and his ""notorious"" polemic, On Socialist Realism, merely argues for an art that is humanist in content and rigorous in its critical standards. We get a glimpse of what he is up against in the essays collected in For Freedom of Imagination, especially when he deals with the lauded work of such hacks as Sofronov, Shevtsov, and Dolmatovsky. Full of ""positive"" tendencies, these writers are truly banal, and it is horrifying that a mind as refined as Sinyavsky's must invent so many clever circumlocutions to admonish such clanking mediocrities. Fortunately, in the essays of Akhmotova, Yevtushenko, Robert Frost, and Pasternak (already a classic statement), his talents flourish. Them are remarkable performances, profoundly responsive to poetry and to life. Alas, they seemed too liberating for the Soviet mind, so Siberia has a new martyr.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1971
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston