THE PROBLEMS OF URBANISM IN THE LITERARY-HISTORICAL PROCESS OF THE 1930s (Antsyferov and Zolotarev in the Publishing Project “History of Russian Towns as the History of Russian Everyday Life.” On Archival Materials)

Journal Title: Studia Litterarum - Year 2016, Vol 1, Issue 1


After A. M. Gorky decided to return to Moscow in 1931, he conceived agitation-propaganda publishing series: “The History of Factories and Plants,” “The History of the Village,” “The History of Women from Primitive Time to the Present Day,” “The History of the World’s Merchant,” “The History of the 19th Century Young Man,” “The History of the Civil War,” “The History of Culture,” “The History of Ideas,” and “The History of the Cities.” Gorky regarded the latter as a popular scientifc version of Gogol’s The Government Inspector and Dead Souls and Shchedrin’s The History of a Town in that it exposed provincial burgesses and philistinism. A special interest of writers and journalists in the recent history of old Russian towns may be explained by the beginning of the so called reconstruction era. The organizing committee of the Soviet Writers’ Union sent out a group of writers to old Russian provincial centers so that they register positive changes in the regions. A literary critic N. P. Antsyferov and a writer A. A. Zolotarev wrote their book about Yaroslavl within the framework of the Gorky project. Their feld work discovered ancient and rich history of this Volga Region town but also inadvertently revealed the town’s social controversies. During the era of reconstruction, the state had no interest in the historical past of the merchant’s town; the vestiges of this past — Yaroslavl’s monuments, city-forming enterprises, institutions, and the matching class composition of the population, historical legends, and toponymy were being deliberately destroyed. However, as Gorky project showed, rejection of the past had led to the dicrease in the population’s cultural level and to the development of the limited “provincial consciousness.” These catastrophic changes revealed in the course of the project explain why not a single “story of Russian cities” was published. Antsyferov’s and Zolotarev’s work as part of the Gorky project helps better undestand the social and psychological depth of the urban theme in Russian fction of the 1930s that we encounter in the grotesque urban representations in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Konstantin Vaginov Garpagoniana, Leonid Dobychin N City, and Andrey Platonov’s The Foundation Pit and Happy Moscow. The plots and characters of these novels are derived from the “dramatic terrain” and from “the sick soul” (in Spengler’s terminology) of old Russian cities in the era of socialist reconstruction.

Authors and Affiliations

Darya S. Moskovskaya


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  • EP ID EP26093
  • DOI 10.22455/ 2500-4247-2016-1-1-2-286-301
  • Views 194
  • Downloads 17

How To Cite

Darya S. Moskovskaya (2016). THE PROBLEMS OF URBANISM IN THE LITERARY-HISTORICAL PROCESS OF THE 1930s (Antsyferov and Zolotarev in the Publishing Project “History of Russian Towns as the History of Russian Everyday Life.” On Archival Materials). Studia Litterarum, 1(1), -.