Litovskaya M. A. Constructive content of one conformist text (.pdf)


The paper analyzes Valentin Kataev's report at the Second Congress of the Writers of the USSR (1954) which can be considered as a sample of the “writing” of a Soviet conformist. In his report, Kataev reproduced common ideas of the 1940s and the 1950s’official discourse about party membership of literature, “friendship” between the party leaders and writers, literature management, etc. The Congress was a meeting with criticism/protection of the Soviet literature of the Stalin period as a main issue. However, the context of Kataev’s statement gives a possibility to consider it as an allegorically stated program of the “Yunost” journal (1955) with Kataev as the Editor-in-Chief. Considering his own life and literary experience as some kind of the “bridge” between the 1920s – 1950s literature, Kataev sought to create an essentially new type of the Soviet youth edition. The comparison of the first issues of “Yunost” with the articles of “Molodoy communist” (another journal of the same publishing house “Molodaya Gvardiya”) demonstrates that the idea of the versatility of a young man’s life that should be as interesting as possible, was the basic ideological point of the new edition. The specifics of the journal’s content was aimed to make a compromise between official requirements to ideological education of the Soviet youth and a modernist idea of youthful age. The “faithful” rhetoric of Kataev’s report, at first sight showing his loss of the talent of a “brilliant stylist”, in fact, was an attempt to formulate an uncommon purpose of the new edition and at the same time to acquit it.


Key words: literary policy of the USSR, conformism, Russian literature of the 20th century, the journal “Yunost”, Valentin Kataev.


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