The Soviet Writers' Union and Its Leaders

Cloth Text – $120.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-4277-0

E-book – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4276-3

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4275-6
Publication Date
October 2020
Page Count
320 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Soviet Writers' Union and Its Leaders

Identity and Authority under Stalin
Carol Any

The Soviet Writers’ Union offered writers elite status and material luxuries in exchange for literature that championed the regime. This book argues that Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin chose leaders for this crucial organization, such as Maxim Gorky and Alexandr Fadeyev, who had psychologies he could exploit. Stalin ensured their loyalty with various rewards but also with a philosophical argument calculated to assuage moral qualms, allowing them to feel they were not trading ethics for self-interest. 

Employing close textual analysis of public and private documents including speeches, debate transcripts, personal letters, and diaries, Carol Any exposes the misgivings of Writers’ Union leaders as well as the arguments they constructed when faced with a cognitive dissonance. She tells a dramatic story that reveals the interdependence of literary policy, communist morality, state-sponsored terror, party infighting, and personal psychology. This book will be an important reference for scholars of the Soviet Union as well as anyone interested in identity, the construction of culture, and the interface between art and ideology.

About the Author

CAROL ANY is an associate professor in the Department of Language and Culture Studies at Trinity College. She is the author of Boris Eikhenbaum: Voices of a Russian Formalist.


“This is the first serious historical narrative documenting the institutional history of Soviet literature. The author considers Soviet literature through the prism of politics, the social sphere, and its inner workings, thus seeking to fill a notable gap in the scholarship. It is not only an original but also a challenging work.” —Evgeny Dobrenko, author of Late Stalinism: The Aesthetics of Politics