Red Letter Days: Bolshevik Visions of Soviet Culture, 1917-1924.
Evans, Jeramey J.
- In the following work, I will argue that Lenin, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, and Bogdanov—four of the most prominent and influential early Bolsheviks—were consistently guided by Marxist theory in their approach to major cultural issues, such as literary criticism, censorship, and the concept of “proletarian culture.” I assert that, with regard to these three topics in culture, the views of Marx and Engel... read mores were ambiguous, vacillating, and even contradictory. As a result, the Bolsheviks were left without an orthodox Marxist method for understanding these important cultural issues. Consequently, the Bolsheviks reproduced in their own views of literary criticism, censorship, and proletarian culture the contradictions and ambiguities first introduced by Marx and Engels. I contend that the differing literary critiques offered by Lenin, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, and Bogdanov expose the fractures within the Marxist aesthetic paradigm that they inherited. I demonstrate that Lenin’s shifting stance on freedom of the press mirrors his shifting Marxist analysis of Russian society. Finally, I argue that the divide between Lenin and Bogdanov over the notion of proletarian culture reflects a dialectic within Marxism itself—a dialectic between culture as something created, and culture as something that creates.read less