Epic Revisionism: Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda

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Focusing on a number of historical and literary personalities who were regarded with disdain in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution—figures such as Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, and Mikhail Lermontov—Epic Revisionism tells the fascinating story of these individuals’ return to canonical status during the darkest days of the Stalin era. 

    An inherently interdisciplinary project, Epic Revisionism features pieces on literary and cultural history, film, opera, and theater. This volume pairs scholarly essays with selections drawn from Stalin-era primary sources—newspaper articles, unpublished archival documents, short stories—to provide students and specialists with the richest possible understanding of this understudied phenomenon in modern Russian history.

“These scholars shed a great deal of light not only on Stalinist culture but on the politics of cultural production under the Soviet system.”—David L. Hoffmann, Slavic Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299215040
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin M. F. Platt is associate professor and chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania. David Brandenberger is assistant professor of history at the University of Richmond.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : tsarist-era heroes in Stalinist mass culture and propaganda 3
1 Tolstoi in 1928 : in the mirror of the revolution 17
2 Press commentary on the Tolstoi centenary celebration novus, "do we know how to celebrate jubilees?" 39
3 Rehabilitation and afterimage : Aleksei Tolstoi's many returns to Peter the Great 47
4 Aleksei Tolstoi's remarks on the film Peter I Anatolii Danat, "at Aleksei Tolstoi's" 69
5 Chronicle of a poet's downfall : Dem'ian Bednyi, Russian history and The epic heroes 77
6 The reaction of writers and artists to the banning of D. Bednyi's comic opera 99
7 The adventures of a Laskov story in Soviet Russia, or the socialist realist opera that wasn't 117
8 The official denunciation of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District 135
9 The terrible tsar as comic hero : Mikhail Bulgakov's Ivan Vasil'evich 143
10 Terribly pragmatic : rewriting the history of Ivan IV's reign, 1937-1956 157
11 Internal debate within the party hierarchy about the rehabilitation of Ivan the Terrible 179
12 The 1937 Pushkin jubilee as epic trauma 193
13 Editorial eulogy of A. S. Pushkin 214
14 The Pushkin jubilee as farce 220
15 The popular reception of S. M. Eisenstein's Aleksandr Nevskii 233
16 Aleksander Nevskii as Russian patriot 253
17 Reinventing the enemy : the villians of Glinka's opera Ivan Susanin on the Soviet stage 261
18 Official praise for Ivan Susanin 276
19 Fashioning "our Lermontov" : canonization and conflict in the Stalinist 1930s 283
20 A rare voice of caution 308
21 An internationalist's complaint to Stalin and the ensuing scandal 315
Conclusion : epic revisionism and the crafting of a Soviet public 325
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