Engineers of the Soul
The Grandiose Propaganda of Stalin's Russia
ISBN 9781468305333 | 320 pages | 07 Aug 2012 | Overlook | 18 - AND UP
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The astounding and often comic story of writers fostering the tragic delusions of Stalinist Russia.
frank Westerman draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as "engineers of the soul," were encouraged to sing the praises of canal and dam construction under titles such as Energy: The Hydraulic Power Station and Onward, Time! but their enthusiasm --spontaneous and idealistic at first --soon became an obligatory song of praise. and as these colossal waterworks led to slavery and destruction, soviet writers, such as Maxim Gorky, Isaak Babel, Konstantin Paustovsky, and Boris Pasternak, were forced to labor on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society.
Combining investigative journalism with literary history, Engineers of the Soul is a journey through contemporary Russia and soviet-era literature. Westerman examines both the culture landscape under Stalin's rule and the book --and lives of writers caught in the wheels of the soviet system.
"Engagingly written and extensively researched, the book covers compelling historical and literary ground." — Financial Times
"Fascinating . . . In addition to tracing the Soviet style and telling the stories of individual writers, Westerman also follows routes these authors traveled." — Cleveland Plain Dealer
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