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Literature


Vsevolod Meyerhold
Vsevolod Meyerhold

Much early Soviet art, unimpeded for the most part by governmental edicts, was lively and cosmopolitan. Literary stars included the poets Osip Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Boris Pasternak. Prominent novelists included Yevgeny Zamyatin, Boris Pilniak, Isaak Babel, and Mikhail Bulgakov. Socialist realism after 1932 shunned global culture and prescribed literal rather than abstract portrayals and an upbeat approach to Soviet problems. Errant writers were condemned and restricted from having their work published. One measure of the difficulty in adapting to the limitations was the unhappy fate of many Soviet writers. Mayakovsky, who was at first a proponent of Bolshevism, became profoundly disillusioned with the Soviet system and committed suicide in 1930. Zamyatin was one of the few allowed to go abroad in voluntary emigration, while others, such as Mandelstam and Babel, were arrested for opposing the regime and executed or imprisoned. Even the “proletarian novelist” Maksim Gorky, who returned from foreign exile in 1929 and became the first chairman of the Union of Writers, was severely criticized before his death in 1936.

Some new voices after 1953 addressed social and historical themes (including Vladimir Dudintsev, Yuri Trifonov, and those of the “village prose” school), while others took a more lyrical and intimate approach (such as Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Vasily Aksenov). Political controversy haunted the best and the brightest. Pasternak, having won a Nobel Prize for his masterpiece Doctor Zhivago, first published in Italy in 1957, was expelled from the Union of Writers and died a broken man in 1960. The 1970 Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and other anti-Stalinist works, was deported in 1974.

Trends were similar in other artistic disciplines.

Music


Noteworthy contributions were made in music by composers Dmitry Shostakovich, Sergey Prokofiev, and Aram Khachaturian and in drama by directors Vsevolod Meyerhold, Oleg Yefremov, and Yuri Lyubimov. The classical traditions of Russian ballet were kept alive by the Kirov company in Leningrad and the Bolshoi company in Moscow (see Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet; Bolshoi Ballet). Sergey Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Andrey Tarkovsky were but several of many outstanding Soviet-era film makers. In painting, graphic arts, and sculpture, the radicals of the 1920s (among others, Kasimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, and Aleksandr Rodchenko) were among the most illustrious in the worldwide avant-garde movement; the works of Aleksandr Gerasimov, Tair Salakhov, and Ilya Glazunov illustrate the contradictions of later decades."USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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