Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia


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The Russian intelligentsia wanted to create more ethical and aesthetic norms within the Soviet society.


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Of those meaningful roles came self-expression and individualism. In their attempt to reform the communist experiment, the intelligentsia slowly dismantled the Soviet system through their social networks, which were based on mutual trust and skepticism towards the official culture and bureaucracy, assertion of civic norms, such as human rights, and greater autonomy in the judgment of aesthetic norms. The Russian intelligentsia wanted to develop and publish their ideas in order to further spread knowledge and thus, transform Soviet society from its Stalinist past.

Did the Loss of the Intelligentsia Ruin the USSR?

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ISBN 10: 0674062329

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Showing Rating details. Sort order. Jul 20, Moira Downey rated it liked it. Pretty thorough look at Russia's post-Stalinist cultural and intellectual elite, its consolidation, fracturing, state co-optation and eventual decline. He highlights the important point that Soviet dissidents were rarely anti-communist, believing instead in the perfectibility of the Soviet project and laying blame for things like the existence of the GULAG squarely at the feet of Stalin and his cult of personality.

Zubok leans rather heavily on Liudmila Alexeyva's memoir, The Thaw Generation , wh Pretty thorough look at Russia's post-Stalinist cultural and intellectual elite, its consolidation, fracturing, state co-optation and eventual decline. Zubok leans rather heavily on Liudmila Alexeyva's memoir, The Thaw Generation , which, by virtue of being rooted in personal experience, I found to be a more engaging if less scholarly read.


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The end of the book, however, posits an answer to a question I've been dogging for some time now; namely, wherefore the perceived decline in quality of the literary output of a post-Soviet Russia: In the world of the late 20th century, art was a commodity, literature and cinema were a form of entertainment, and mass culture triumphed everywhere.

The notion of high culture for connoisseurs and highbrow intellectuals survived only as an elitist phenomenon, unrelated to primary social, economic, and political issues.

Dr. Vladislav Zubok

This change was as destructive to the ethos of the intelligentsia as the structural and spiritual collapse was. The networks that had formed the cultural underground of the Soviet era, an essential part of the intelligentsia's "imagined community," disappeared. A brief boom in Soviet nonconformist art in the West began to wane after It became clear that the underground culture owed its existence to the unique centrality of high culture in Soviet society, in combination with the state support and pressure to channel this culture within prescribed boundaries.

With the advent of democratization and marketization, the artists and intellectuals of the semidissident milieu, who used to thrive on their elitism, had to search for new niches and identities in the emerging post-Soviet order.

Zhivago's Children : Vladislav Zubok :

Many of them--for instance, rock musicians--began to condemn the new order with the same vehemence with which they had denounced the old. The majority, however, emigrated to the West or joined the rapidly expanding mass culture. In short, post-Soviet Russia provides an interesting possible case study for the corroding effect of market forces on the arts. This is an outstanding work of social-cultural history, looking at Russian intellectuals from the years after the Second World War up to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I was familiar with the biographies and careers of some of the people mentioned in "Zhivago's Children," but Zubok pulls all the details together and weaves it into a coherent whole, showing how authors' careers were shaped by the big events the XX Party Congress, Sputnik, the crushing of the Prague Spring and how people's goa This is an outstanding work of social-cultural history, looking at Russian intellectuals from the years after the Second World War up to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I was familiar with the biographies and careers of some of the people mentioned in "Zhivago's Children," but Zubok pulls all the details together and weaves it into a coherent whole, showing how authors' careers were shaped by the big events the XX Party Congress, Sputnik, the crushing of the Prague Spring and how people's goals changed over time. In some ways, this is a sad book. The intellectuals begin with hope, hope that the excesses of Stalinism can be rolled back, hope that the socialist system can be corrected.

Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia
Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia
Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia
Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia
Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia
Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia Zhivagos Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia
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