Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On Socialist Realism Notes

Book: On Socialist Realism
Author: Abram Tertz
Introduction by: Czeslaw Milosz
Year published: 1960


7. Milosz notes that "Abram Tertz" is a pseudonym for an unknown author. At the time of this books published it was still unknown who the author of this work was.
9. Editor notes the use of "we" by the author....connoting that he is part of the community he is critiquing.
10. Editor says socialist realism is responsible for untold deaths.
10. Description of socialist realism as an "effective antiseptic"
11. Archatype of "Bard, Teacher, Leader" does not have history in the west. (Accept, it is noted, in Ireland, I am not exactly sure what is being referred to here.)
12. Writers called "engineers of souls" in Russia
12. Authorities in America have never regarded literature as dangerous or important in the maintenance of power. Although I may have issues with this quote. Has the repression of sexual literature under indecency laws constituted a "regard of literature as dangerous?" yes, to the maintenance of power? Maybe.
12. Russia however does have a history of repression for the maintenance of power, Milosz notes Pushkin as being censored by czar Nicholas I.
17. In Eastern Europe literature and art have played an important role in attempts to do away with dogma.
18. [Echo's of conversation with Mikie Vance, see notes from "Literature and Revolution"] Readers and audiences in Russia are more intelligent then the product served to them.
21. How does this discussion of national pride relate to Gramsci's hegemony?

Part 1:
Summary: chapter one seems to lay the foundation for understanding socialist realism. It uses a comparison of Christianity to show the form as a regression rather then a progression in literature.

24. Further Reading suggestion: Khrushchev's "For a close link between literature and arts and the life of a people"
24. Definition of Socialist Realism: "Socialist realism is the basic method of Soviet literature and literary criticism. It demands of the artist the truthful, historically concrete representation of reality in its revolutionary development. Moreover, the truthfulness and historical concreteness of the artistic representation of reality must be linked with the task of ideological transformation an education of workers in the spirit of socialism."
26. Idea of era's having a "Purpose"(with capital P)...for instance Christian era, Individual Era, and in Russia the Communist Era....
33. Further Reading suggestion: Stalin's 4th chapter of "Short course of History of The Communist Party of the Soviet Union" for his view of ideas.
40. The all pervasive Communist Ideology as compared with God is important in understanding some Russian attitudes toward free speech.....What is free speech to a communist? What is the individual to communist doctrine of mid 40's?
42. Tertz sums up first chapter "These are the aesthetic and psychological concepts the knowledge of which is indispensable to anyone who would penetrate the secret of socialist realism."

Part 2:

Summary: This chapter deals with why Socialist Realism is a huge break from the Russian literary tradition.

44. Literary ideas like lost illusions, broken hopes, or unfullfilled dreams do not exist in socialist realism.
47. Gorki's "Mother" is considered to be the first socialist realist work(1906)
48. Idea of "positive hero's" discussed
50. Soviet writers seem to fully "accept" socialist realism in 1930's....Stalinization
65. It seems that the "superfluous man" was more dangerous to a positive hero then an openly negative enemy.
66. Superfluous man as neither advancing purpose or hindering it....shades of gray are not permitted.
67. "who is not for us is against us"

Part 3

71. Todays literature(1960) is closer to that of the 18th century then the 19th in its adherence to a type of purposefulness.

[Marcus as searching for truth, not answers. Isn't truth a answer? Qualia as taken by writer to pass down and categorize knowledge for the purpose of validation.]

75. No Irony in "Realism"
76. Socialist realism shows man as he should be
81. Romanticism as idealistic
84. Personified abstractions present in Socialist Realism.
91. Author notes that socialist realism due to its limitations can only produce novels of moderation.

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