The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Studies in Soviet History & Society)

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9780801495168: The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Studies in Soviet History & Society)

When Lenin asked, "Who will beat whom?" (Kto kogo?), he had no plan to wage revolutionary class war in culture. Many young Communists thought differently, however. Seeking in the name of the proletariat to wrest "cultural hegemony" from the intelligentsia, they turned culture into a battlefield in the 1920s. But was this, as Communist militants thought, a genuine class struggle between "proletarian" Communists and the "bourgeois" intelligentsia? Or was it, as the intelligentsia believed, an onslaught by the ruling Communist Party on the eternal principles of cultural autonomy and intellectual freedom?In this volume, one of the foremost historians of the Soviet Union chronicles the fierce battle on "the cultural front" from the October Revolution through the Stalinist 1930s. Sheila Fitzpatrick brings together ten of her essays―two previously unpublished and all revised for inclusion here―which illuminate key arenas of the prolonged struggle over cultural values and institutional control. Individual essays deal with such major issues as the Cultural Revolution, the formation of the new Stalinist elite, and socialist realism, as well as recounting colorful episodes including the uproar over Shostakovich's opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, arguments over sexual mores, and the new consumerism of the 1930s. Closely examining the cultural elites and orthodoxies that developed under Stalin, Fitzpatrick offers a provocative reinterpretation of the struggle's final outcome in which the intelligentsia, despite its loss of autonomy and the debasement of its culture, emerged as a partial victor.The Cultural Front is essential reading for anyone interested in the formative history of the Soviet Union and the dynamic relationship between culture and politics.

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From the Back Cover:

In this volume, one of the foremost historians of the Soviet Union chronicles the fierce battle on 'the cultural front' from the October Revolution through the Stalinist 1930s. Sheila Fitzpatrick brings together ten of her essays which illuminate key arenas of this prolonged struggle over cultural values and institutional control.'The Cultural Front' is essential reading for anyone interested in the formative history of the Soviet Union and the dynamic relationship between culture and politics.

Review:

"Sheila Fitzpatrick has established herself as one of a small number of prominent historians of the first two decades of Soviet history who have changed the way students of the Soviet Union look at politics, society, and culture. Fitzpatrick's work certainly deserves the attention, respect, and scrutiny of the broader historical community, and this collection will be an indispensable guide to her understanding of Soviet history."―Mark von Hagen

"Fitzpatrick is a giant in the field whose work has added excitement to and deepened our understanding of Soviet history in the critical decades before World War II. Historians are taking a fresh look at this period and at the subject Fitzpatrick so ably interrogates in this volume: the relationship between the authorities and the intelligentsia."―Donald J. Raleigh

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