This special theme focuses on the relation between realism and social or socialist realism from different angles and with examples from different countries. It consists of contributions from eight scholars who took part in the workshop: Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Karin Grelz, Aleksei Semenenko, Susanna Witt, Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Epp Lankots, and Charlotte Bydler and Dan Karlholm.
How the realist approach during the years around 1970 played out in the force field of society and the psyche, the collective realm and the individual, is exemplified by our two very different Swedish case studies. Svedberg’s political narratives compose montages in which fictional, metaphorical figures are inserted side by side with political leaders drawn from newspaper clips. Kåks’s allegory-like oil painting shows a stone worker working in the face of his imminent disappearance. They both reveal myths as opposed to historically manifested commodity relations.
The article discusses the writing of architectural history in Soviet Estonia in the late socialist period as a particular form of historiographic practice in which the contact between “history” and “reality” is pursued through avant-gardist practices of merging art and life. The case is built on the “historical depictions” or the short texts on the history of Estonian modern architecture written by Leonhard Lapin.
Following the 1934 establishment of socialist realism as the main “method” to be applied in all spheres of Soviet artistic production, more particular discourses evolved addressing the issue of how the concept was to be interpreted and defined in the various fields of culture. Literary translation was no exception. This paper explores the significance of the discourse on socialist realism for Soviet translation practices and translation theory during late Stalinism.
Arkadii Gaidar (1904–1941) is one of the most popular Soviet children’s writers and an undisputed part of the Soviet literary canon. The Pioneer organization used him as a symbol to mold young Soviet citizens, the characters from his books entered Soviet folklore, and generations of Soviet children have been brought up on his books. Nonetheless, his path from military commander to a classic of Soviet literature was far from ordinary. This paper reviews Gaidar’s work, focusing especially on the analysis of his short story The Blue Cup as the most representative of his oeuvre and of the political and literary context of the 1930s.
The aim of this article is to show to what extent Nabokov’s relations to the two phenomena Soviet art and cinematic art were interrelated and subtly intertwined. Focusing on a cinematic scene in Nabokov’s first novel, Mary (1926), the analysis traces how the themes of cinematic deception techniques and mimetic violence are developed by Nabokov. It is shown how cinematic effects in Nabokov addresses the violence inherent in socialist realist aesthetics: political censorship and manipulation on the one hand, and the programmatic extinction of artists labeled as “bourgeois” on the other.
Adorno’s understanding of realism in the present is often taken to have been simply negative. In the posthumously published Aesthetic Theory, too, the negative view is predominant; there are, however, traces of another conception of realism. Adorno proposes, although with some caveats, that what he calls an adequate conception of realism is not only possible, but also something that art in the present cannot and must not avoid.