Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine, The Literary Fair

Todays reading, seemed to follow a theme we’ve come to be familiar with in this course: creating a new society. It is very clear week after week that the Soviet officials are acting as entrepreneurs to create and market a new way of living. And no nation or group of nations can be complete without culture. Culture is such as affective way to instill pride and community within a group of peoples. Moreover, a cultured area of culture, the arts, have been used since the Paleolithic period. Just as it would be in any Soviet territory, the arts are used very tactically, as a tool. Mayhill Fowler states, “The arts were there-fore not a luxury, but rather a central component of the Soviet project. Consequently the state created, managed, and financially supported newspapers, journals, and arts institutions, all of which offered jobs for artists” (Fowler 58). The Soviet Union played patron to the arts to support artists in which ever media they create, however, it would not be the Soviet Union without some kinks due to hasty action. Moreover, it seems that a lot of artists in and coming out of the civil war were prolific in creating in a very close knit art scene, and many began to travel to the seemingly new artistic hub, Moscow. Specifically Mikhail Bulgakov lived in a new time where the arts had a significant place in society, and the government was funding their lives and careers. However, the art scene in Soviet Ukraine differed in significant ways, “First of all, many of the artists in Soviet Ukraine were also officials. As such, they invested as much in the creation of a new state as in the creation of a new culture” (Fowler 62). These two worlds of art existed at the same time and within the same “nation”, yet were influenced so differently.

  1. How do the signifigant differences between artists in Moscow and Ukraine change the way in which we could see their art? How do their positions before and after the war effect the art and culture of the new societies?
  2. Are the actions of Soviet Ukraine possibly treating to the doctrine of the Soviet Union? Does Soviet Ukraine do things better than the SU regarding cultural action and thought?
  3. How does the Literary Fair support or reject the new society the SU is trying to create?
  4. What is the significance of the close relationship the military has with the arts?

One Reply to “Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine, The Literary Fair”

  1. In regards to the third question, Fowler writes on page 84 that the Literary Fair “was connections between officialdom and artist that enabled soviet culture to emerge. These were connections of friendship, romance, work, and surveillance that created a network enabling and shaping culture.” So, it seams to me that the literary fair created a social environment that allowed artist to work with officials to create a new Soviet culture.

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