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Culture of the future : the Proletkult movement in revolutionary Russia /
Lynn Mally.
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1990.
xxix, 306 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. --
0520065778 (alk. paper)
More Details
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1990.
0520065778 (alk. paper)
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. [259]-294.
A Look Inside
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"Mally's book moves the study of an important revolutionary cultural experiment from the realm of selective textual analysis to wide-ranging social and institutional history. It reveals vividly the social-cultural tensions and values inherent in the Russian revolutionary period, and adds authoritatively to the rapidly emerging literature on cultural revolution in Russia and in the modern world at large."--Richard Stites, Georgetown University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-10:
Ideology versus pragmatism, cultural nihilism versus cultural heritage, autonomy versus state control, and Bogdanov versus Lenin are all carefully examined in this work. Mally presents a well-reasoned and documented account of the Proletkult movement from its origins prior to the Bolshevik revolution to its absorption by the state's bureaucracy after October 1920. A.A. Bogdanov (A.A. Malinovsky), founder of the Association of Proletarian and Cultural Organizations, advocated the victory of the collective over bourgeois individualism. He believed that only the industrial proletariat could express the collective spirit of socialism. Mally explains that Proletkult, in addition to opposition from Lenin, the Communist party, and the state, contained several seeds of its own destruction, including a loss of pure class identity and a movement toward elitism. Many sources emphasize the longstanding philosophical differences between Bogdanov and Lenin as being primarily responsible for the demise of Proletkult. Mally argues that the most serious issues were Proletkult's desire for autonomy and its lack of finances. Mally's study is the best account currently available in English of this important revolutionary cultural experiment in Russia. It is a proper capstone to T.E. O'Connor's The Politics of Soviet Culture (1983) and to Bolshevik Culture, Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution, ed. by A. Gleason et al. (Ch, Jan'86). Upper-divison undergraduates and above. -L. E. Oyos, Augustana College (SD)
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 1990
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Long Description
Just days before the October 1917 Revolution, the Proletkult was formed in Petrograd to serve as an umbrella organization for numerous burgeoning working-class cultural groups. Advocates of the Proletkult hoped to devise new forms of art, education, and social relations that would express the spirit of the class that had come to power in the world's first successful proletarian revolution. Lynn Mally offers a detailed analysis of the Proletkult's cultural and political agenda. Drawing extensively on archival sources, she argues that the creation of a new culture proved as difficult and controversial as the creation of new notions of politics. From the outset, the Proletkult was divided by severe political and social tensions as members struggled to define the role of the organization and the cultural desires of the proletariat. What fused this divided movement was the shared belief that without radical cultural change the revolution would not succeed. The Proletkult's eventual decline graphically shows how political consolidation, institutional rivalries, and the devastating social consequences of the revolution and Civil War all worked together to limit the utopian potential of the October Revolution.

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