Cover Osteuropa 11/2010

In Osteuropa 11/2010

Anti-Canon and Cultural Memory
Samizdat and the Erosion of Socialist Realism

Wolfgang Stephan Kissel

Deutsche Fassung


The doctrine of Socialist Realism, which was declared in the 1930s, was the attempt to create a genuinely Soviet cultural memory. Ideologically unsuitable authors and texts were excluded from this canon. The autonomy of literature, however, continued to live in secret: After Stalin’s death, samizdat and tamizdat appeared on the scene and created their own anti-canon. The poems of Osip Mandel’shtam occupied a particularly important place, and their effect was increased by the memoirs of his wife Nadezhda Mandel’shtam. The history of how these works were received makes it possible to understand how samizdat contributed to the erosion of official art doctrine.

(Osteuropa 11/2010, pp. 163–172)