Cover Osteuropa 4-6/2005

In Osteuropa 4-6/2005

The regulation of pain
Coping with traumatic experiences in Soviet war literature

Il’ja Kukulin

Deutsche Fassung


The history of literature’s treatment of the war is a history of the repression of the existential distress caused by the borderline experience of war. The description of emotional and physical suffering, which was made impossible by censorship in the 1930s, became possible as a result of the war and was incorporated, step by step, into literature. Literature that had been passed by the censor but was still unofficial attempted to address the trauma of war as a subject in its own right. At the same time, the official literature of the Brezhnev era wove a new Soviet legitimation myth out of the painful experiences of the war generation. The only literature that expressed a state of existential insecurity and so undermined Soviet identity had no chance of being published. The war literature of the 1990s took up the subject-matter and aesthetics of these works.

(Osteuropa 4-6/2005, pp. 235–256)