thumbnail of People under communism; Literature to order, part one
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
People under communism. Many. Many. And. Many. Many. This is a transcribed series of full hour programs based on documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union. As presented by the National Association of educational broadcasters in consultation with scholars from the Russian Institute of Columbia University and the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University and the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. The program you are about to hear literate you're to order is based on materials and counsel provided by Dr Ernest Simmons chairman of the department of Slavic languages at Columbia University and professor of Russian literature in its Russian Institute.
Yer. Dr Ernest J Simmons has been a student of Russian literature and culture for some 20 years and has made five trips to the Soviet Union for research purposes. His biographies and critical studies of Pushkin dusty esky and Tolstoy are standard works. He has made an intensive study of Soviet government controls of literature. Now Dr. Simmons is gold in Prague a recent Stalin Prize winning novel A Russian column of troops is described marching along the Czech road at the end of the wall. Suddenly the command halted the column and shouted. John I'm going to read Stalin's message and the author continued the regimen drew itself up and stood frozen still swarms of midges hanging in a pillar over the men's heads could be heard in a continuous buzzing. They crawled in pestering small arms over the
men's faces and into their eyes. But not a man of these hundreds as much as had not a single muscle twitched on those sun tanned faces. All we can say about this physical phenomenon is remarkable and amen to Soviet socialist realism. In dealing with Soviet literature we are faced with an entirely different conception of the writer and of his function in the state as well as with a different order of realism. This conception was not necessarily implicit in the original Soviet scheme of things. It has developed over the more than 30 years of the existence of the regime and has been conditioned by the growing power of the Communist Party. The early illusion that the party would consider literature as the product of the free exercise of man's creative impulses swiftly faded the party
controls grew more emphatic as the party grew more powerful. In fact the history of literary controls over the last 35 years is closely connected with the history of the party. Thus the 1932 party resolution on literature remove the emphasis upon proletarian literature and placed it on socialist realism reflecting the conviction that the corner to socialism had been turned and at the same time the dissolution of all literary groups and the establishment of the single Union of Soviet right is which exists today Maki still greater confidence of the party in its power to regimental literature. Finally the 1946 resolution of the Central Committee on literature was an ideological reflection of the present period of the gradual transition from socialism to communism in which the party
in various ways has publicly asserted its absolute control over all ideological matters in a national and international policy of far reaching consequence. Early literary freedom under the party has given way to complete objection to the party. If the whole of Christian was devoted to the greater glory of God to day the whole of soviet is devoted to the greater glory of the Communist Party. The transition from socialism to communism is a dominant theme in
post last Soviet literature. The utopia of communism is now the proverbial carrot constantly held out before the toiling Soviet people as a possible to achieve and in their own lifetime. Novelists heed the party line and dwelling upon this polypill incentive in their fiction Semion Babai of ski's Prize winning novel of one thousand forty nine light over the year presents a typical scene of several characters discussing the coming of communism. There are you go on a young mechanic but a ghoul and a collective farm worker. Can you give an old and much honored treat with the order of the gold star and con to the octave chairman of the regional committee of the party. The wise omniscient helpful animal of a stereotype in Soviet fiction. Well it's the Soviet equivalent of the $64 question. How are we going to live under communism. You may be heroes of labor comrade
Reglan and you shave but you needn't grin this is a serious subject and it's on the mind of everyone these days. I just hear what people say. They say all kinds of things you can't remember at all. The old folks grumble about it and say but when is it going to be not in our time. You can't help agreeing with him. Take me for example. Now I'm not an old man but I also keep telling myself when shall we come to that life. What do you think yourself. And I think a lot but I can't decide it works out in theory but it's hard to imagine in practice. I was in Moscow recently travelled up to get this medal here. Well after the ceremony was over and we were all heroes to a man Comrade Stalin invited us down for a chat. There were young heroes among us as well of course but Comrade Stalin sat down next to us old man. Well we started talking about life in general about the past and the future. And the conversation turned on communism. Come right out and praised us all for the good work we were doing and then he says now it's just you
folks on the collective farms one paying by our labor where the real makers of communism and then an old man gets up just a plain herdsman from the DA. Nothing much to look at and he says your right to Comrade Stalin. We are the initiators of your life. Only it's a shame that our time will soon be out. We will build a new house and make it all beautiful but we shan't be the ones to move into it. Comrade Stalin heard him out attentively and then he smiled. What makes you think so he asks. You are heroes of labor for most people. Then why shouldn't you move into that house. I think you will. After all you and I are not that old yet. And let me tell you that we'll move into that house and live in it for a pretty long spell. Now you go. That's exactly what you should say to those old folks. If you believe in a thing you'll always get it. I couldn't have said it better myself. Yanis going to Sheriff your answer just hit it on the head.
Today's severe limits placed on the area of human experience which the Soviet writer can reflect in his OP. For the party regards literature as one of the principal means of propagandizing the masses. Hence any subject revealing the real abuses of the regime such as existence in forced labor camps is forbidden to the novelist a poet punishment for failure to subscribe to the party line in literature or usually takes the form of public denunciation if recantation does not follow accompanied by Reform practice. An author may be driven from literature and he may ultimately suffer a worse fate. All imaginative literature tends to exult its subject is the most adequate mirror of life. Soviet literature today is compelled to exult it is a mirror of idealized Soviet life. The party began to thrust upon right
as an official version of Soviet life in the early 1930s although it is changed in points of emphasis and new facets have been added since then. The fundamental content of the picture has remained pretty constant in this official version. The Soviet Union has become something of a socialist paradise. Stick kind of ICT workers perform prodigies of labor in the factories over fulfilling the norms amid general jubilation and peasants on the collective farms overcome every conceivable hostile element of nature to wind through to a bumper harvest in the end. Both the workers and peasants in this literature are richly on it by the state but their achievements and all joining in attributing this success to the inspiring influence of Stalin all types portrayed except the negative ones live lives of
beauty Leiber heroism and the honest joy of accomplishment. The essential human conflict is usually between Sterling communism virtues embodied in the masses and stray boozed Bibles still persistently lodged in the nature of an occasional villain. Of course there is never any doubt of the final triumph of socialist principles. In fact very few Soviet novels today can do without the stick kind of ICT work. Work is glorified in the Soviet Union and no doubt surpassing work norms is a prevailing factor of Soviet reality. It's reflection in literature however takes on the unreality almost of the feats of Superman whereas the motivation is even less believable. Such for example is the kind of ICT feet in yet a pano of as Stalin prize winning 1949 novel Bright shore which is otherwise one of the better
post-war novels and highly readable. It is the story of the post-war rehabilitation of a State Farm where the peasants are awakened at 6 o'clock by the radio loudspeaker blaring the national anthem and rush out into the fields in a frenzy to overfull fail. Working on it is largely the story of Curtis yellowed a young communist home from the wall who was appointed director of the rundown farm and pulls it together naturally with the aid of the district party secretary gutteral Genco and the party organizer biggie shit. The little milkmaid is the real heroine of the piece however the novelist writes of her. It was the height of new shoes ambition to contribute to the farm's fame she dreamt of it waking him sleeping. She lived in a country where a person's worth is judged by his labor where toil is looked upon as an exploit and the toiler a hero.
I want to work splendidly. I want to be respected. I want comrade Stalin himself to get to know new show of last of the little girl from the remote farm when you should succeed. Perhaps it is worth translating the account of her feet for it is entirely characteristic of scores of Soviet novels and of the kind of treatment of Soviet life that the party encourages in fiction. It dawns on the milkmaid news that the prize column has a chance to break the record in milk eel. The novelist writes dolling you she said in Beginners presens. Don't let me down dear. You're my only hope. You should look closely and said nothing. But the next day he brought her a large sheet of paper ruled in lines and columns. I have a duplicate of it he said. We'll write down stroke his milk every day and then we'll trace occur.
Experts at the farm held conferences on the best feed for their yield continues to rise. The novelist goes on. Musha came to the cattle yard long before dawn and a few minutes past three at four o'clock news just sat down to milk Straka after milking she gave the cow combined feed and grain which the cow ate with relish. At six o'clock when you should milk Straka for the second time biggie shift came in still red from his morning evolutions with his wet hair smoothly combed back. He greeted her with his invariable Good morning. Well how is it. Then he wrote down the figure of the previous day's milking. It was a large figure coming close on 40 cut a steel of two had started keeping a record and also began dropping in a new ship every day sometimes twice and three times a day. His eyes sparkled with excitement. He was always anxious in case I had lost her appetite. Does she
eat running in for a minute. She does. Nusa replied with an answering flash of eyes. Well stroked his eel continue to rise and the whole farm is in a delirium of excitement. They could not resist stopping at the dairy and anxiously asking Musha for the latest bulletin but writes the novelist Musha oncet curtly. She did not like all these visits. It disturbed the columns a calm peace and quiet. Father understood this. He sauntered about the cattle yard inside but never went in to see a new show. Only at home in the evening he would still going strong still going. The enthusiasm soared with stroke his soaring milky. The novelist continues. A telegram was dispatched to the regional center addressed to din the director of the state dairy farms dress. Milkmaid on a blast of a responded first to decision February plein am of central committee by
obtaining milk fifty seven point seven leaders daily from college and fulfilling monthly plan 143 percent has pledged to mill 10000 leaders during lactation director state party organizer then telegram started to fly back and forth. Gotta go why did the regional party committee the farm trade union committee why the regional trade union committee the trust why it congratulations to new to you and congratulations arrive from the regional party committee from the regional trade union committee from the Ministry of State Farm's. When you said that's how fame begins. She stood holding the telegram by the minister and narrow official form stiff with rows of take words glued on it with the yellow pages. Musha his face burned but she merely shrugged and said I don't understand what all this fuss is about. Well soon photographers came by train from the district center from the regional center
and then from Moscow to take new shoes picture with and without her earrings on. And the district newspaper ran a story of the event with new shoes picture. Then the regional daily experts arrived from a PA to hold conferences with around the gushing stroke who however went on strike when they pushed her to eight milking a day. But the novelist Mr. Leslie pushes on. You should group them. She's gone as thin as a rail. Her mother said she was hollow wide and how good the first milking was at three in the morning the last attempt thirty in the evening. No wonder knew she looked badly every day cut a steal of and Begich of the team leader in the milkmaids tried to chase her away. Take a day off you're crazy. You make yourself sick. As if there was no one to manage it without you. She turned a deaf ear to them a day off Indeed every one of his nerves was drawn taut as a string and twine with joy. A representative arrived from the ministry
to study new shoes achievement stroke a stroke to keep it up. Sixty two point one leeches and the visit is probably one of them from the district agricultural authorities from the regional agricultural authorities from the zone of the station collective farm cattle breeders. Some came on foot. Some grow down on sledges others arrive by train by car. Sixty three leaders that were in constant attendance on stroke. 65 car is still a drop in as usual. Does she eat. She dies. And do you. He suddenly knew she lived and he put his hand on her forehead felt it frown. Was she running a temperature temperature be hanged. Did he live a trust direct ot of the state farm director to discuss new shoes experiences at the farm meetings and every day official statements were drawn up. Check milking of belonging to State Farm bright shawl sixty six point eight. A telegram from the ministry again wanted to know whether the farm was provided with sufficient feeds.
A telegram from the academicians knew she was milking when they brought it in. She read it over her shoulder. She was fed up with these telegrams. Why didn't they come down so she could see what they looked like those academicians. And just imagine they did come. Rather they flew down a special plane was placed at their disposal to enable them to come and see a new ship to academicians boat grade little manned one clean shaven the other with a short beard. They stepped over the rough boards of the cattle yard in their light shoes with all the others following behind like a retinue. The academicians resolved for the purpose of allowing the collar a longer rest at night time to milk her six times a day. Come on come on dolling. Sixty eight point five enormous rations were issued to stroke it. Does she eat. She does 71. She sat in milk a little
girl with common very earrings the academicians the business executives in the party representatives stood deferentially watching her while she milked on the fifty fifth day after carving struck a was fed 92 kilograms of feeds including skim milk. She breathed like a steam engine. But 8 that day she yielded seventy two point nine liters of milk the next day. She refused to eat. Stop said the academician with a little bit biggie she said to new. We're going straight from here to the club milkmaids from the collective farms are waiting for you to tell them how you did it. Did what. New ship. Nothing special in the world's record seventy seven point seven. Well I do declare said the academician with a little bit. It's good enough for a stock. It's not a question of breaking records that begin. You show them the milkmaids what perseverance
and patience can do. You'll see what a stimulating effect this will have on competition. This amazing account and with the story of the meeting and the honors heaped upon the blushing new and the novelist MORROW Well that's how they begins. Well famed for Soviet milkmaids and other planes Soviet citizens comes in a strange and wondrous way without dwelling upon the propaganda effect of this from the official point of view
of this typical Soviet literary account of a competition. One may well question its effectiveness as gods and its faithfulness to the reality of Soviet life to begin with. It should be remembered that the novelist here is carefully adhering to the new line laid down by the resolution of the Central Committee of the party on literature or on August 14th 1946 and in subsequent speeches by the late Andres Dom a member of the Polit Bureau in which he plainly indicated not only what literature was considered anti-Soviet but also defined the themes that post war office should write about. No I've been conducting a study of certain beaches of Soviet literature or among Soviet displaced persons here and abroad. Some of them former members of the writers union. One of the questions put concerns this very matter
of reality in the artistic and in the official sense listen to the question of the interview and the Soviet critic writes. The writer can give a truthful and profound portrayal of reality and its revolutionary development. Only if he is guided by the policy of the Soviet state. Do you agree with this. In his works the writer can never show life as it really is. I talked a number of times about it with Soviet critics. I used to say the reality that you desire does not exist. It is actually much sadder much black a more tragic in many Soviet works of literature you will find a dreamed up life a wishful one but not the real one. Only when writing about the past as the author more truthful and some see at the way Soviet life is presented depends on the ability of the writer. The more talented possesses the more convincing will be as pictures of Soviet life. A gifted writer may present the wishful as the real yet to review is a bright
insisted that the characters in this novel including little knew you we're a real average Soviet citizen. Modern realistic literature shuns the average man for the simple reason that it is difficult to make him interesting. Only an author of the stature of a Leo Tolstoy can transform the average man by the witchery of his art into a vital living symbol of the conscience of ordinary humanity. However as Soviet literature today prides itself on portraying only average men and women but it casts them in the official image of idealized positive heroes in the heroines on this very point let us turn again to this same displaced Soviet respondent a former writer. What about the positive heroes of Soviet fiction. Are they regarded as true to reality or hopefully idealized the average reader among the
workers. Because members the Soviet officials is moved by these heroes when transferred to the screen these heroes make the Soviet movie goer cry. Many of the readers and spectators know that they do not exist in real life. But it's fun to look at them and read about them. Using pushpins words I can say that the lofty deceit permeates all Soviet literature but other respondents had a slightly different reaction to the question of how the average Soviet citizen reacts to these so-called average heroes and heroines and the idealized life they lead in novels that US sold or distributed in enormous quantities. Then the only uniform is that the average Soviet citizen reads between the lines of such novels and develops an unusual virtue lost city in dismissing positive heroes and heroines as unreal and accepting the so-called negative characters
motivated by booze Wasif Bibles as the truly realistic portrayal. It is almost too much to expect however that such a virtue our city interpretation is very common among the masses of Soviet readers. Some allowances must be made for the effectiveness of the propaganda element in this literature. Then to the unfailing success story of Soviet novels and plays today a socialistic variation of the old endless Horatio Alger themes of luck and pluck sink or swim survive or perish must psychologically as the wish fulfillment of countless haad press presence on the collective farms and laborers in the factories.
Of course the positive hero of Soviet fiction today is nearly always a communist. He may have certain weaknesses. Often the only element of dramatic conflict impulsiveness pride a desire to sidestep the collective and do everything himself. Hostility to innovation all things you do to educate a wife lacking he is both civic virtue and always it is a Communist Party official who sets the erring comrade back on the path of party virtue. The hero of cup tell you have as recent successful novel Doctor as John is another of the Soviet Superman performing miracles of curing among the Yakut in every respect he is an exemplary communist. But there is one chink in his ideological aamod he has a beautiful young wife whom he adores but he is too preoccupied with healing the
Yakut to realize that the public did not want to be a mere housewife. She wanted a career of her own to be a writer. Communist morality demands that he further the ambitions of his young wife. But he's too busy with his patients writes a book and finds an enthusiastic admirer of it and eventually a love entire blog an enterprising engineer she leaves undeserving husband for good. Listen to how Laguna secretary of the district parting committee characteristically informs the brokenhearted Dr. John of his communist PDA as husband. It's a good book written simply and you'll feel that she put her heart in it. Can't you see what it's costing me. Do you mean to say that you justify what she's done. I regret the separation more than I can say. If I had realized what was happening I would have warned you long ago. Her all me you all got
Pablo and I lived with you for eight years. Had she been older or less attractive he would long since have noticed that she was falling so far behind in life that already there was nothing for you to talk about. You were absorbed in the big job you were doing. That was fine but you forgot that alongside of you was a person badly in need of your friendship and support. And then there's engineer turned up but was able to give her this support. Pointing out to her just what she needed. Naturally all her affection became centered on him. Maybe you'd like me to go hang myself Your the one who began this conversation. I wouldn't want your relationship to become more complicated. She was right in leaving you but I doubt that it would have happened if she had lived a fuller life with you. Then she would have seen you in a different light. Each one of us bears marks of the past. The spiritual rust that has been eating into the human race for thousands of years as a Marxist you will know that with the downfall of the matriarchy all laws and privileges and social conventions uphill the domination of the male. This has left deep traces on human psychology. We make fine communist speeches
People under communism
Literature to order, part one
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-8g8fk76p).
Episode Description
This program, the first of three parts, takes a look at Soviet literature and its impact.
Other Description
A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
Politics and Government
Soviet literature--Political aspects.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Advisor: Simmons, Ernest J. (Ernest Joseph), 1903-1972
Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Simmons, Ernest J. (Ernest Joseph), 1903-1972
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 01:05:10
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “People under communism; Literature to order, part one,” 1952-12-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 7, 2021,
MLA: “People under communism; Literature to order, part one.” 1952-12-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 7, 2021. <>.
APA: People under communism; Literature to order, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from