Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941

By Katerina Clark

In the early 16th century, the monk Filofei proclaimed Moscow the "Third Rome." through the Thirties, intellectuals and artists around the world considered Moscow as a mecca of secular enlightenment. In Moscow, the Fourth Rome, Katerina Clark exhibits how Soviet officers and intellectuals, in trying to catch the mind's eye of leftist and anti-fascist intellectuals in the course of the global, sought to set up their capital because the cosmopolitan middle of a post-Christian confederation and to rebuild it to develop into a beacon for the remainder of the world.

Clark offers an interpretative cultural background of the town through the the most important Thirties, the last decade of the good Purge. She attracts at the paintings of intellectuals akin to Sergei Eisenstein, Sergei Tretiakov, Mikhail Koltsov, and Ilya Ehrenburg to make clear the singular Zeitgeist of that the majority Stalinist of sessions. In her account, the last decade emerges as an immense second within the prehistory of key strategies in literary and cultural stories today-transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, and global literature. through bringing to mild ignored antecedents, she offers a brand new polemical and political context for realizing canonical works of writers corresponding to Brecht, Benjamin, Lukacs, and Bakhtin.

Moscow, the Fourth Rome breaches the highbrow iron curtain that has circumscribed cultural histories of Stalinist Russia, through broadening the framework to incorporate substantial interplay with Western intellectuals and traits. Its integration of the understudied overseas measurement into the translation of Soviet tradition treatments misunderstandings of the world-historical importance of Moscow below Stalin.

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There have been after all exceptions, and gradations of compliance. however the version, although faraway from ideal in execution, was once transparent. structure, literature (lettered culture), and politics got here jointly in a brand new urban, a urban that were written to be learn. Writing town, writing the kingdom, and writing the self have been all to be coordinated in a single method, as might be proven within the subsequent bankruptcy. bankruptcy three The go back of the cultured I n the Nineteen Thirties, as Moscow was once being rebuilt, a cliché of press money owed was once “all of Moscow is lower than scaffolding” (Vsia Moskva v lesakh). The  urban was once a chrysalis, because it have been, expecting a completely new self—a ­butterfly—to emerge. And emerge it did (or was once stated to have done). a few smooth albums of images have been produced via figures just like the erstwhile Constructivists Aleksandr Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova during which contrasting photographs of an identical spot in “old” Moscow and because it is/​would be within the “new” urban confronted one another throughout adjoining pages, celebrating Moscow’s conversion event. 1 And in 1938 Aleksandr Medvedkin’s 1938 movie New Moscow (Novaia Moskva) the hero displays a movie that shifts, via dissolves, from “backward” Moscow to a futuristic “new” Moscow (as within the albums, the latter photographs have been mostly of mockups of the long run city). while the butterfly-​Moscow emerged from its chrysalis it was once to be “beautiful,” a brand new self-​evident worth. As Kaganovich placed it in his speech to a Jubilee plenum of the Komsomol in 1933 in a veiled assault on Constructivism, “many examine simplified and crude layout [oformlenie] is the fashion of proletarian structure. No, excuse me, however the proletariat doesn't merely are looking to have housing, not just have locations the place they could dwell conveniently, yet have appealing homes. and they'll one zero five 106  m o s c o w , t h e f o u r t h r o m e ensure that their towns, their structures and their structure are extra appealing than in different cities of Europe and the USA. ”2 Avant-​garde structure, which had proclaimed itself the “new architecture,” used to be attacked as “formalist,” “arid,” and “soulless,” for its “aestheticization of know-how” and cult of the computing device, which had allegedly crowded out “art itself. ”3 The flip to “beauty” entailed a go back to traditional tastes, however the foregrounding of the attractive used to be additionally tied to a process that minimize throughout discursive obstacles. This intended the aestheticization of politics, or extra appropriately, because political existence then was once palpably messy or even bloody, the aestheticization of metapolitics, of the version that subtended and justified practices within the political area. during this old second of kingdom aggrandizement and consolidation of energy, the attractive was once in. This used to be now not a different phenomenon. As James C. Scott issues out in Seeing Like a country, in a number of historic examples related to city making plans below robust leaders, “aesthetic concerns often gained out over the prevailing social constitution and mundane functioning of the city”; examples he adduces contain the impression of Leon Battista Alberti and Palladio, either influential within the designs for the “new Moscow.

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