The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3986-2

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1545-3
Publication Date
September 1999
Page Count
243 pages
Trim Size
6 1/8 x 9 1/4

The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic

Irina Gutkin

The past fifteen years have seen an important shift in the way scholars look at socialist realism. Where it was seen as a straitjacket imposed by the Stalinist regime, it is now understood to be an aesthetic movement in its own right, one whose internal logic had to be understood if it was to be criticized. International specialists remain divided, however, over the provenance of Soviet aesthetic ideology, particularly over the role of the avant-garde in its emergence.

In The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic, Irina Gutkin brings together the best work written on the subject to argue that socialist realism encompassed a philosophical worldview that marked thinking in the USSR on all levels: political, social, and linguistic. Using a wealth of diverse cultural material, Gutkin traces the emergence of the central tenants of socialist realist theory from Symbolism and Futurism through the 1920s and 1930s.

About the Author

Gutkin is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"Irina Gutkin's study helps very much to rectify socialist realism's lamentable status, together with the other authors she quietly champions in her opening overview of several kindred studies." —World Literature Today 

"...Gutkin's work will provide informative reading not only for specialists in Russian literature, culture, and history, but also for those interested in the relationship between the artistic avant-garde and totalitarianism in other national cultures." —The Slavic and East European Journal

"Literary scholars, historians, and indeed any scholar or student of the Soviet period will be gratified to see many of their presuppositions about socialist realism validated in Gutkin's analysis of the cultural history of the socialist realist aesthetic." —Slavic Review