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The Interval of Freedom

The Interval of Freedom: Soviet Literature During the Thaw, 1954-1957

George Gibian
Copyright Date: 1960
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Interval of Freedom
    Book Description:

    When Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago was published in Europe and America in 1957 and 1958, the Western world was astonished and elated. But Doctor Zhivago is not the only significant literary work to come out of Soviet Russia recently. During four extraordinary years, 1954 to 1957, from Stalin’s death to the aftermath of the Hungarian revolt, Soviet Russian authors were able to express their minds with unusual freedom. In this volume Professor Gibian examines various revelations made in Soviet literature during this interval of comparative freedom. Nearly a score of contemporary Soviet writers are considered in detail. The authors and their works are grouped according to three major subjects to which Soviet writers have devoted much attention: science, love and sex, and the literary villain or “negative” character. Works of the following writers are discussed in depth: Alexander Bek, Leonid Leonov, Daniel Granin, Venyamin Kaverin, Vladimir Dudintsev, Semen Kirsanov, S. Aleshin, Viktor Nekrasov, Nikolai Pogodin, Galina Nikolaeva, Alexander Korneichuk, Alexander Shtein, Alexander Volodin, Nikolai Gorbunov, Nikolai Zhdanov, and Alexander Yahin. An entire chapter is devoted to Doctor Zhivago. In an introductory chapter, the author provides a survey of literary developments during the interval of freedom. In a final chapter he draws conclusions about the nature of the thinking of Soviet literary intelligentsia, comparing it with Western literary thought. The book is illuminating from social and political as well as literary viewpoints.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6258-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. AUTHOR’S Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    George Gibian
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER I Freedom and Aftermath, 1953 TO 1958
    (pp. 3-28)

    If someone familiar with the conditions which prevailed in Soviet literature and culture during the life of Stalin had been kept in complete ignorance of his death and the ensuing changes and then had been plunged into the midst of Moscow and Leningrad literary life in 1956, he would not have believed his eyes and ears. Between the years 1954 and 1957, opinions were expressed by Soviet writers which during the years of Stalin’s rule would certainly have been repressed by the writers themselves — or by the men in charge of controlling Soviet cultural life.

    After 1954, writers in...

    (pp. 29-73)

    In American literature science and the scientist are not subjects of very great prominence. For most Americans, when the topic of science in fiction is brought up in conversation, the vaguely disreputable category of "science fiction," which is often considered to border on the sensational, or visions of Superman, space ships, and rocket cartoons are likely to come to mind. Probably only a few will think of the works of the Englishman H. G. Wells, the French novels of Jules Verne, other Utopian or fantastic novels, or examples of recent American science fiction which are of high quality and deserve...

  6. CHAPTER III Love VERSUS Steel Production
    (pp. 74-105)

    The representations of love in Soviet literature have usually been closely related to the currently dominant views of the proper place of love, sex, and family life in Soviet society.

    In the years immediately following 1917, family ties were somewhat loosened and relations between the sexes rendered more free by the turmoil accompanying the Revolution and the Civil War and by the influence of the ideas of the German socialist Friedrich Engels. Engels regarded the family as an exploitive institution, which would have to be abolished or fundamentally reformed in a socialistic society. Woman would be liberated from the drudgery...

    (pp. 106-144)

    Soviet writers and critics frequently discuss the nature of the hero of their novels and plays. In fact the hero in Soviet literature is one of the favorite topics of Soviet criticism. Comments on what his opposite, the villain, ought to be, are less numerous. At times Soviet spokesmen—as we shall see—have disapproved of the portraits of villains presented in Soviet books, but they have seldom been considerate or rash enough to accompany their remarks with explanations of what kind of villain would have met with their approval. It is easier to be positive about the positive characters,...

    (pp. 145-158)

    In 1954 foreign visitors to Russia who had personal friends among Soviet writers came back with very encouraging and almost unbelievable reports. The word was being passed around that Boris Pasternak was writing and would soon publish three works: an autobiography, a novel, and a collection of poetry.

    This was surprising news for several reasons. First of all, Pasternak had been in great disfavor with the authorities. His poetry was lyrical, subjective, complex, and completely unrelated to the social themes of the day which the Party liked literature to treat. He consistently refused to obey the injunctions of socialist realism...

    (pp. 159-166)

    The innovations made by some of the Soviet Russian authors in the years 1954-1957 were limited to themes and attitudes toward their subjects. They made little attempt to escape the confines of socialist realism in style or manner. Most of the dissident authors wrote with the same reverence for fact, for the clearly, simply, conventionally presented scene and character, as such officially approved authors as Simonov and Fedin. In literary technique there has been no return to the 1920’s, no revival of the symbolism of an Olesha, the modernism of a Pilnyak, the Maupassantesque precision andmot justeof an...

    (pp. 169-172)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 173-180)