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Outline (::)

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 Grins 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 Grins 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.

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Accordingly, the thesis consists of three major parts. The first part Critical representation of Grins 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 writers 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 Grins 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 [1], 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 [2], Evgeny Dobrenko [3], Evgeny Shteyner [4], etc.

The first chapter Critical representation of Grins works in the Stalins time explores the conflict between the socio-cultural paradigm of Stalinist totalitarian society and Grins artistic/philosophical outlook. The aggressive attitude of the Soviet officials towards Grins 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 Grins works and personality changed dramatically. The second chapter is devoted to the process of Grins 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 Grins 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) Grins devotion to October revolution; (2) Grins loyalty to the political regime; (3) Grins transition to Realism; (4) Grin as a writer for children; (5) the novel Scarlet Sails (1918-1921) as a major achievement of Grins.

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 [5]. However, my previous research, which was focused primarily on the textual analysis of Grins works in the context of Modernist trends, did not give the opportunity to develop the detailed investigation of the problem of Grins 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.

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The exploration of the critical myths about Grin and, in particular, the problem of Grins representation as a childrens writer, leads the thesis to the third chapter, Interpretation of Grins 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 [6], 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.

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