A descriptive catalogue of the Soviet writer's life--from the amount of living space provided, to the benefits of Party membership, to the nature of the various literary journals, official and unofficial. Along the way Hingley (Dostoev-sky, The Russian Mind, etc.) surveys the various literary schools of the past 60 years--Imaginism (Yesenin), Futurism (Mayakovsky), Socialist Realism (Gorky), et al.--and lists virtually all the major writers in one place or other; but he steadfastly refrains from any ""aesthetic judgement"" or discussion of particular works that goes beyond illustration. This is not a work of literary criticism, then, but neither is it a sociological study, since Hingley develops no typologies and makes no claims that particular social conditions form particular literary genres or styles (he clings to the individual creative artist approach). Nor does this register as literary history; the steps in the evolution of such persistent aspects of the Soviet scene as censorship are simply pulled out of standard historical accounts and juxtaposed with a literary chronology. Hingley, moreover, has ignored non-traditional literary forms; while he lists various works of fiction, poetry, etc., he finds no space for the development of wall newspapers during the collectivization era, for instance, and thereby ignores the effect, if any, of the Soviet experience in extending literary boundaries. In short, Hingley poses no questions, takes no risks, uncovers nothing. Rather, he assembles available information and presents it in a handy, undemanding form.