Theses Doctoral

Negotiating the Scope of Postwar Stalinist Novels

Hicks, Andrew

This dissertation challenges dominant perceptions of literary socialist realism by demonstrating how works of official Soviet literature enjoy more scope for individuality and innovation than is commonly acknowledged by structuralist or dissident readings. It examines how three Stalin Prize-winning novels use the material of recent history, their predecessor works, the tropes and genres of the Soviet literary system, and allegorical reading to comment on Stalinist society, including such concerns as love, the legitimacy of the state, generational conflict, and Bolshevik management techniques. It traces the textual history of Aleksandr Fadeev's wartime conspiracy novel Young Guard, showing that revision demanded by the state can boost a work's legitimacy, and suggesting that the novel may not always be the most important version of a narrative when alternative versions exist, especially film. It argues that the first version of a Stalinist novel generally demonstrates more authorial individuality and engagement with Soviet Reality than the later versions that give the impression of homogeneity to Soviet literature. Semen Babaevskii's agricultural production novel Bearer of the Golden Star, one of the chief targets of Thaw critics, engages the Stalinist literary convention of the positive hero by thematizing the concept of the hero and showing how society's reaction to that status may impeach its ability to enable the rest of its citizenry to carry out post-war reconstruction. Vera Panova's Radiant Shore circumvents the constraints of the doctrine of conflictlessness by delving into the world of a child, but also by creating an allegory that links animal husbandry, Soviet literary history, and Communist management techniques.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Slavic Languages and Literatures
Thesis Advisors
Nepomnyashchy, Catharine S
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 4, 2013