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Through Political Accusations to Socialist Realism: Discussion of A. M. Dmitriev's Novel “Aye to Steer the Boat”

Anastasia V. Sysoeva


The objective of the study is to determine one of the regulatory mechanisms of literary practices in the early 1930s USSR. The paper aims to analyze the methods of discussion; to identify the main requirements for literary texts; to review the changes made in reprints. In the course of the present research, we studied archival documents which had previously not been introduced into academic study (materials from two oral discussions of A. M. Dmitriev's novel “Aye to Steer the Boat” (1931), correspondence), as well as reviews published in periodicals. The novel was perceived as an achievement of the Literary Association of the Red Army and Navy, which «tutored» its author. The article presents key points of the extensive discussion that reflected the ramifications of the RAPP's leader’s confrontation with the “Litfront” group. Political accusations, rhetorical techniques based on logical fallacies, contradictory reproaches all characterize the discourse of the era, while indicating that presumption of guilt was applied even to a writer loyal to the new regime.  They also allow us to talk about the significant influence of critics and political workers on editorial amendments made to the text. The article highlights recurrent demands placed on the text, which reflected the shift of early 1930s Soviet literature towards the sole Socialist Realism approach. It was assumed that the writer would plausibly depict the preferred constructed image of reality in accordance with the current policy of the party, offering the reader a role model—a Bolshevik hero. The same period saw the onset of the requirement to write in a simple literary language.


DOI: 10.31168/2305-6754.2022.11.2.9


A. M. Dmitriev; Socialist realism; Literary Association of the Red Army and Navy (LOKAF); defense literature; politics and literature; reader agency; literary criticism


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