SOVIET RUSSIAN LITERATURE by Maro Slonim

SOVIET RUSSIAN LITERATURE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Not really a new work, but a quasi-rewriting and updating of an old one, the author's Modern Russian Literature, published a decade ago. It leaves out Chekhov and Corky and the Populist and Symbolist chapters, and after a short introduction to the post-Czarist literary upheaval, commences by way of Essenin and Mayakovsky, Professor Slonim, an old honoured Slavic scholar, is well read in both the poets and novelists proper and also the politico-economic phases. He presents a straightforward, intelligent and highly comprehensive survey, distinguished by its ability to clarify so many of the varying conflicts between the shifting Party line and the immensely contradictory artistic approaches to it. Such figures of disillusionment and consequent reprisals as Babel, Pllnyak and Zoschenko, or such officially respectable ones as Sholokhov, Alexey Tolstoy or the slippery Ehrenburg, are pinpointed against the historical criss-crossings via NEP, the 5 year plans, socialist realism, Zhdanov and WWII. This ends with a consideration of the current destalinization era, Yevtushenko's generation and the embattled forces of repression and liberalization. There is nothing here either profound or provocative; the professor is reliable not adventurous: he disentangles but does not dissect.

Publisher: Oxford