Литературная критика -
Репрезентация творчества Александра Грина в СССР
The present thesis concentrates on the problem of ideological myths in the system of Soviet culture and literature. It analyzes the cultural image of the Russian neo-Romantic writer Alexander Grin (1880-1932) as it has been constructed by Soviet ideology and received in Soviet popular culture since the late 1950s. The topic of the thesis is unique, and it has not yet been investigated either by Western or post-Soviet scholars. Being topically innovative, it offers also an innovative methodological approach, based on certain existing theories about Soviet culture.
In the introductory part I briefly discuss the facts from Grin’s biography and the development of his creative/philosophical outlook in the context of his own time. Then I make an overview of existing scholarly works on Grin (including the works published in USSR/Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, France, England, North America and Australasian regions). Then follows a brief explanation of the methodological approach of the main chapters.
The thesis explores three major aspects of Grin’s representation in Soviet culture: critical, literary and cinematic. Critical representation is viewed as a key instrument for the construction of a specific ideological image of Grin in Soviet popular culture. The representation of the writer as a literary hero, and cinematic versions of his works are approached as a cultural interpretation of the constructed ideological myth.
Accordingly, the thesis consists of three major parts. The first part “Critical representation of Grin’s works in the USSR” focuses upon the process of construction and development of ideological “myth about Grin” in the system of Soviet culture. It is necessary to give a short definition of the word “myth” as it will be used in the present work. By this term I understand an artificially constructed (by ideological means, with propagandistic or other ideological purposes) model/interpretation of the writer’s works and personality. My term “myths” defines a system of cultural stereotypes implemented into Soviet culture by the ideological system. “Myths about Grin” are viewed as the elements of global cultural discourse of the Soviet era.
The first part consists of three chapters, which demonstrate and analyze the transformation of the official and public attitude to Grin’s works from the 1920s to the 1980s. This phenomenon is viewed in the context of socio-cultural paradigms of different political epochs. The theoretical framework includes the keystone research by Katherina Clark on Socialist Realism and the Soviet novel , where she approaches the Soviet novel as a form of a ritual. In addition, I address the key works in the area of studies on Soviet culture, such as the works by Richard Stites , Evgeny Dobrenko , Evgeny Shteyner , etc.
The first chapter “Critical representation of Grin’s works in the Stalin’s time” explores the conflict between the socio-cultural paradigm of Stalinist totalitarian society and Grin’s artistic/philosophical outlook. The aggressive attitude of the Soviet officials towards Grin’s oeuvre, and subsequent representation of the writer as a politically dangerous “cosmopolitan” is viewed as the result of this deep-rooted conflict.
With the change of political regime in 1956, the official approach to Grin’s works and personality changed dramatically. The second chapter is devoted to the process of Grin’s “taming” by Soviet ideology at the end of the 1950s and development of the key ideological myths about Grin. Also, in this chapter I investigate the phenomenon of the mass “Grin cult” in Soviet culture as an example of popular reception of Grin’s works. The “Grin cult” became one of the cultural signs of the Thaw period (1956-1965) that did not outlive the political era of Khrushchev. At the same time, the “high” (or “state”) ideological system of myths about Grin put down such long roots into Soviet culture that its remnants still can be seen in contemporary post-Soviet society and culture. Through examples of a number of critical articles and essays of the 1960s-1980s I will define the major features of the Soviet myths about Grin, such as (1) Grin’s devotion to October revolution; (2) Grin’s loyalty to the political regime; (3) Grin’s transition to Realism; (4) Grin as a writer for children; (5) the novel Scarlet Sails (1918-1921) as a major achievement of Grin’s.
It is important to point out that general idea and principles of the description and analysis of ideological myths about Grin appeared during work on my previous research Socialist Realist by Circumstance: Alexander Grin's Writings in the Context of Intellectual and Aesthetic Trends of Russian Modernism . However, my previous research, which was focused primarily on the textual analysis of Grin’s works in the context of Modernist trends, did not give the opportunity to develop the detailed investigation of the problem of Grin’s representation in the USSR. In the second chapter of the present thesis I elaborate the points made in my previous research, engaging new factual material and different theoretical approach.
The exploration of the critical myths about Grin and, in particular, the problem of Grin’s representation as a children’s writer, leads the thesis to the third chapter, “Interpretation of Grin’s works in the context of the Soviet model of the Fantastic”.
After the radical political and cultural changes of the 1920s, the whole country, according to the definition of the Russian writer Kir Bulychev , turned into a fantastic space of collective utopia. In such situation the existence of any alternative (including fictional) utopia was out of the question. Therefore, for a very long time the Soviet literary Fantastic as a genre was virtually non-existent.