Volume 70 Number 4 Abstracts

Poetics of Brotherhood: Organic and Mechanistic Narrative in Late Tolstoi

Ilya Kliger and Nasser Zakariya

In this article, Ilya Kliger and Nasser Zakariya treat Lev Tolstoi’s conception of brotherhood from a narratological perspective. In the process, they trace the outlines of late Tolstoian narrative poetics, situating it within a variegated landscape of Tolstoi’s own more properly “realist” literary practice, and offering broader suggestions on the workings of narrative in its capacity to model social relations and ethical action. A narratological focus here allows them to elucidate how stories take part in contemporary understandings of social influence, human connectedness, and alienation-not only on the level of themes but also, and more deeply, on the level of the narrative organization of events. Their main focus is on one of Tolstoi’s late novellas “The Forged Coupon” and his last novel Resurrection.

The Russian Aufklärer: Tolstoi in Search of Truth, Freedom, and Immortality

Lina Steiner

Lev Tolstoi, in his thinking about life, death, freedom, and immortality, drew significantly on the German philosophical tradition from Leibniz and Moses Mendelssohn to Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Friedrich Schleiermacher, as Lina Steiner argues in this article. Herder, who tried to salvage rationalism by getting away from the mechanistic metaphysics of the French Enlightenment and reintroducing the teleological explanation of nature, was a particularly important influence on Tolstoi. Herder’s view of life, including both individual life and the life of community, as organic Bildung underlay the artistic conception of War and Peace, Tolstoi’s first major fictional narrative. Tolstoi continued to develop this organicist paradigm in his later sociopolitical, religious, and aesthetic writings.

The Operatics of Everyday Life, or, How Authenticity Was Defined in Late Imperial Russia

Anna Fishzon

In this article, Anna Fishzon explores how the phenomena of celebrity culture and early sound recording contributed to notions of authentic selfhood in late imperial Russia. Public discussions about celebrities like the Bol’shoi Theater bass Fedor Shaliapin helped forge understandings of sincerity and spoke to contemporary concerns regarding the relationship between fame and artifice, the public persona and the inner self. Fishzon suggests that the emergent recording industry penetrated and altered everyday emotional experience, the arena of work, and the organization of leisure, linking gramophonic discourses to celebrity culture and its rhetoric of authenticity and sincerity. In part because Russian audio magazines and gramophone manufacturers heavily promoted celebrity opera recordings, sonic fidelity was equated with the capacity of the recorded voice to convey “sincerity,” understood, in turn, as the announcement of ardent feelings. Fan letters to Shaliapin and Ivan Ershov document these new sensibilities regarding self, authenticity, desire, and emotions.

The Stalin Prize and the Soviet Artist: Status Symbol or Stigma?

Oliver Johnson

How did the Stalin Prize function in the Soviet fine art establishment of the 1940s and 1950s and how were the awards interpreted by members of the artistic community and the public? This examination of the discussions of the Stalin Prize Committee and unrehearsed responses to the awards reveals an institution that operated at the intersection of political and expert-artistic standards within which the parameters of postwar socialist realism were negotiated and to some extent defined. The Stalin Prize for the Fine Arts played an important part in the development of the leader cult and contributed to the self-aggrandizement of an elite minority. The symbolic capital of the Stalin Prize was compromised by its role, perceived or actual, in the consolidation of a generational and ideological hegemony within the Soviet art world and the establishment of an aesthetic blueprint for socialist realism.

Europe and Its Fragments: Europeanization, Nationalism, and the Geopolitics of Provinciality in Lithuania

Neringa Klumbyte

With a focus on Gintaras Beresnevièius’s book The Making of an Empire (2003) and the marketing and consumption of “Soviet” sausages, this article explores the rise of national ideologies that promote an “eastern” and “Soviet” identity in Lithuania. Both during the nationalist movement against the Soviet Union and later in the 1990s and 2000s, the west and Europe were seen as sites of prestige, power, and goodness. Recently the reinvented “east” and “Soviet” have become important competing symbols of national history and community. In this article Neringa Klumbyte argues that nationalism has become embedded in the power politics of Europeanization. National ideologies are shaped by differing ideas about ways of being modern and European rather than by simple resistance to European Union expansion. The resulting geopolitics of provinciality, a nationalist politics of space, thus becomes an integral part of the story of European modernity and domination within a global history.

The Industry of Truing: Socialist Realism, Reality, Realization

Petre Petrov

Most existing accounts of socialist realism rely, implicitly or explicitly, on a commonsense notion of truth as correspondence between representation and its object (the state of affairs being represented). In this view, socialist realism is commonly denounced as an epistemological fraud, while quasi-dialectical formulas such as “reality in its revolutionary development” are viewed condescendingly as the fraud’s fanciful garnish. Such an approach fails to see in Stalinist culture a radical shift in the understanding of truth-a shift that has less to do with Marxist orthodoxy than it does with the intellectual reflexes of early twentieth-century modernity. In this article, Petre Petrov sets out to describe this shift and, in doing so, to propose a novel theoretical framework for understanding Stalinist socialist realism. The work of Martin Heidegger from the late 1920s through the 1930s serves as an all-important reference point in the discussion insofar as it articulates in philosophical idiom a turn from an epistemological to an ontological conception of truth.