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Authoritarianism and government interventions in the Soviet literary world have Tsarist precedents many would argue that contemporary Russia of Vladimir Putin continues within the same tradition of authoritarianism, though its literary output may be minimal. Clark is quick to note: Ideology is no stranger to the Russian novel in any of its manifestations. This relationship is very different in the Soviet period from what it was under the tsars, although much of the difference is one of degree only; for several nineteenth century writers Goncharov, for example worked as censors, Dostoevsky was close to the tsar's advisor Pobedonosetsov, and in the s the infamous Bulgarin worked as a worked as a government agent.
Thus, during the old regime there were writers who shared the official ideology, and the government itself played a monitoring role in nineteenth-century literature.
While speaking of the distinct continuity of the Russian nation, one cannot miss the obvious sense of perpetuity when the Soviet-era anthem is retained today as the contemporary Russian national anthem, with some appropriate changes of lyric: for example the phrase Lenin's party strength of the people Partiya Lenina Sila Narodnaya turns into popular wisdom of our forebears Predkami Dannaya Mudrost Narodnaya.
This is a small fact, but it can assume paramount significance as we propose to consider the essence of the Russian nation that is propagated in the Soviet fictions.
Russian literary conventions under the Bolsheviks exhibit an underlying sense of continuity in the midst of all drastic upheavals. We need to acknowledge that nations have no timeless essence, nor they are static. They change significantly, and they also remain the same to an extent.
In case of the trajectory of the Soviet books, every new development within the cultural sphere takes into account the tradition of the Russian people, because that tradition provides substance to the cultural structure, as communist ideology gives shape to it. Even that ideology seems to have formed a remarkable continuum with Russian tradition.
It was probably the first Soviet book for children in Bengali that was imported from Soviet Union. Folk tales are a unique repository of traditional wisdom and they offered the perpetual values of Russia. Anatomical similarity has been suggested between socialist realism and Russian tradition: The Socialist Realist novel forms a tradition that rests on canonical exemplars. Consequently, medievalists who study the conventions of hagiography and other such texts tied to a canon will find much in common between the distinctive features of their texts and those of the Soviet novel Clark xii.
Secular myths of the great revolution, the great patriotic war, the giant leap forward, the path to communism were celebrated in the Soviet books, as we shall presently observe in our case studies and type studies in this article. As Socialist realism was gradually giving way to newer forms of writings during the s and s and the grip of communist ideology was slackening, it was observed that Socialist realist paradigms were seamlessly functioning as Christian Realist, Nationalist Realist, or as some version of Spiritual Realism Clark Clark does not mention whether such books were still officially published during the s and s, but in all likelihood, they were not, prior to Gorbachev's arrival on the scene.
This is another example of continuity, which might deceptively appear as a paradigm shift. Socialist realism is characterised by the Russian practice that calls for a ideological rearrangement of reality realism in the West was also a bourgeois doctrinal rearrangement of reality, but it was soon supplanted by various literary movements from Romanticism onwards which went beyond reality altogether.
Fig 7: Illustrated Children's tale of a hat that apparently came alive because of the kitten underneath The myths of the Russian nation come to represent a higher form of reality, somewhat in the vein of Plato's divine reality. Socialist realism accommodated the dominant myths of the time and portrayed reality in the light of those mythical paradigms. Clark makes a categorisation of a three-level reality in Socialist Realism: The people at the ground level, the ordinary mortals, form a shadow world.
However, Clark's vertical division of levels of reality can be faulty. Clark does not realise here that the reality of the people on the ground may not not necessarily be that of mere shadow within socialist realism. Instead, the politicised depiction of the proletarian characters on the ground can frequently form the essence of a higher reality, which can be argued in the case of Nikolai Ostrovsky's How the Steel Was Tempered Ispat in Bengali.
Clark's reading does not take into account the nuances of this doctrine of higher reality, and is reductive to the extent that it conflates Party structure and political hierarchy with the aesthetics of socialist realism.
The corresponding elements from fairy tales and folk tales are increasingly emphasised, constituting models 21 Journal of Bengali Studies ISSN , Vol. Such structures are crucially posited within the Ideological State Apparatus. The children's universe of fairy tales suddenly wake up to the higher call of the nation, and repeatedly come to the foreground of Soviet official myths. Here we see that the function of children's literature in Soviet Union becomes manifold.
It acts as a repository of myths which are resourceful for the adult, mature world. But it is also a potently direct weapon for indoctrination.
Only Three months had passed since the Bolshevik seizure of power, but the remoulding of society along socialist lines had already begun. Now it was the turn of children's literature. The keynote had been sounded by Lenin, who said that the entire purpose of training, educating, and teaching young people should be to imbue them with communist ethics.
In The Forgotten Weapon, L. Kormchy, a minor children's writer, who had decided to join the winners, declared that children's literature was an indispensable ally in the process of moulding the new man. The use of graphic art to further the cause of the Soviet system among the children has been a notable strategy from the beginning. Evgeny Steiner's Stories for Little Comrades studies the use of 'revolutionary' art to indoctrinate the children in the early decades s and s of Soviet Union, and investigates the strange marriage of avant garde art with the totalitarian ideology during this time.
Use of brilliant sketches, paintings, images, photographs and illustrations continued to adorn children's and adolescents' books in Soviet Union. There have also been attempts to process the history of the Bolshevik revolution into a graphic narrative meant for easy consumption of children and grown up readers alike, and Rush Biplob Ki Ghotechilo Russian Revolution: What Actually Happened is an interesting case in point. It came out in Again, a coffee table publication on the Russian Revolution that came out in , commemorating the 70 th anniversary of the revolution printed fully on glossy papers in royal size, titled An Illustrated History of the Great October Socialist Revolution: Month by Month has a chapter on Drawings by the children of with carefully chosen imagery from children's paintings.
This is an indication of the lasting significance of children in the overall schema of Soviet publishing.
History of in comics format Fig. Where is Lenin? Dutt inserts a sequence where Lenin, then absconding in Razliv, has a storytelling session with three peasant children Again, the significance of children is asserted, when in the midst of political crises, Lenin spares his valuable time for interaction with children.
Later when police conducts a raid, Lenin's life is dramatically saved by a child. More importantly, here in Dutt's play Lenin and the children represent a conventional, deep-rooted dyad that informs Soviet literature in a massive way, adult fictions and children's books alike.
In the above example of Dutt's play, children represent stixijnost' or spontaneity, whereas Lenin represents soznatel'nost' or consciousness.
However, this dyad should not be thought of in terms of a Bakhtinian dialogic structure. At best, it can be called pseudo-dialogic, because the outcome of this dialogue is fixed, and in many respects, the conversation between spontaneity and consciousness resembles ventriloquism, as consciousness is slated to win and eventually exert its control over spontaneity. Clark observes that the Russian word for spontaneity, stixijnost', is formed from the root stixija, meaning 'the elements' The stixijnost'-soznatel'nost' dualism is therefore a binary opposition of matter and consciousness, very much like Bengal's own prakti-purua dualism.
However, the Sankhya school of philosophy is tragically aware of the overwhelming power of the elemental forces of nature over consciousness, which is represented by the standing Kali atop a lying Shiva, or a Krishna holding the feet of Radha, as I discussed in the JBS literature issue Vol. In the Soviet paradigm, the opposite is the case. Here, the elemental forces of nature are meant to be triumphantly harnessed by consciousness.
Sankhya's tragic awareness gave birth to the Buddhsit notion of Moksha, where consciousness is freed from the confines of materiality. The Soviet triumphal dyad of the mastery of consciousness over spontaneity gave birth to the social realist notion of the positive hero, the most popular example of which is probably Pavel Korchagin from How the Steel Was Tempered.
In Bengali, this novel by Nikolai Ostrovsky has been translated as Ispat Steel , and has been immensely popular with the adolescent readers. Here we find a prototypical template where the hero's journey from spontaneity to consciousness is mapped, and the Soviet version of history is enacted within the microcosm of the textual universe.
The back cover of the Bengali edition declared that the book has been translated into 48 languages and published in 42 countries.
In Soviet Union editions of the text have appeared, and a total of 1. Ostrovsky's novel celebrates Komsomol, an organization that was set up on 29 October , one year after the revolution. Komsomol was a compulsory all Russia organization. Membership was open to everybody from the age of 14 years to 28 years, and one needed to be a serious black sheep to be out of it.
Ostrovsky's novel was serially published in Molodaya Gvardiya, the Komsomol journal. The first part was published in , and the second part in It was an autobiographical novel, and Pavel Korchagin is Ostrovsky himself.
Korchagin as a child represents the raw, untamed force of nature, that is, spontaneity.
As he grows up, he comes into contact with communist ideology. He gets to learn about the true path of Bolshevism under the tutelage of various mentors in different phases of his life as he embarks on his journey towards consciousness. This novel's success has a number of reasons.
Both Ostrovsky as well as his novel's hero Korchagin are proletarian, and in a way they depict the successful march of the revolution itself. Clark finds in this novel defining aspect of high Stalinist political culture; it is a novel of the Civil War ethos, of struggle, heroism, and 'Bolshevik Will', but above all, it provided what the age demanded an entire heroic biography to function as an example Clark notes that Korchagin is the positive hero of Soviet literature, the model figure for the Soviet people to emulate.
However, the tragic ending of the novel is given a miss by Clark while discussing about its favourable reception among readers.
Revolution devours its children, as any history of revolutionary turmoil would testify. Bengalis know this, and the popularity of Ispat might stem from the fact that not only it offered an authentic experience of an actual revolution that shook the world which the reader could vicariously feel , but it also showed the tremendous price that such a revolution exacts and extracts from its followers.
It must have struck a cord with the Bengali readers of twentieth century, who were no strangers to bloodshed, loss of lives and turbulent times.
The protagonist is very often like a bogatyr knight from a bylina heroic poem , and the King that this bogatyr serves is the Soviet State, Lenin and Stalin themselves.
Further, the obstacles in the path of revolution remind of the monsters that a hero must fight and defeat. In Soviet children's fairy tales, specific political correlations are made, where the fairy tale's protagonist resembles a Soviet hero, the magic helper is reminiscent of a Soviet mentor, and the story's happy ending relates to the radiant future of the classless paradise; Soviet fairy tales are thus consistently full of political motifs, as the foreword of Politicised Magic by Marina Balina et al points out x , and notes that the Soviets appropriated the fairy tale paradigm wholesale for propagandist purposes xii.
It is anonymously written which indicates that it was produced by the Soviet state itself , and we only have the name of the Bengali translator. This is a manual meant for parents, and it is striking how traditional, paternalistic, nationalistic and Russian this book is. The occasional socialist emphasis merges seamlessly with the values of tradition. The book opens with a series of paintings done by Russian children, and a brief write up exhorts the parents and children alike to feel proud about the past arts and crafts of one's own people, to be worthy of that past, and to preserve everything that was best in that past.
Further, this book declares: The need of fish water, the need of bird sky, the need of animal forests, mountains. And the need of human is motherland Here we find a distinct presence of nationalism which is organically extrapolated.
Elsewhere, the manual proclaims: The book written for children should have a positive hero, so that the kids can accept him as their ideal Fairy tales are specifically emphasised as a training process; for example, a girl child can learn a lot from the story of Cinderella.
The hint is obvious: Cinderella used to do all the works of household, while her hard labour made her appear even more beautiful. Here she represents proletarian spirit that should welcome hard work, and the happy ending of the story correlates to the teleological design of Soviet communism. But more importantly, the story is liked by a girl child named Yulia in this anecdote recorded in Chelemeye Manush Kora Proshonge because everything is logical and just in this story of Cinderella The political use of the Cinderella myth has been repeatedly observed on the celluloid in Soviet Union, as Balina's Politicised Magic notes: The modern Cinderella continues to toil and to toilette in such celluloid fantasies as the Stalinist Radiant Path Svetlyi put', , Grigory Alexandrov , the Stagnation-era blockbuster Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears Moskva slezam ne verit, , Vladimir Menshov ix-x.
In a conventional celebration of gender stereotypes, girls are trained into domestic labour by their grandmothers and mothers in Chelemeye Manush Kora Proshonge , while boys are trained to become rough and tough by their fathers While discussing the case study of the Nikitin family, the father's statement is approvingly recorded where he says: to avoid the indulgence, timidness and the conditioning of feminine protectiveness, the child also needs the language of men We may remember that Soviet Union never had any woman as the head of state, and upper strata of Soviet society did not have many women, in spite of being one of the first countries of the west to accord voting rights to women.
It is this Russian nation, male and paternalistic, a veteran of many tough winters, which perpetuates itself in the pages of this manual. One major feature of the underlying Russian nationalism that informs Soviet culture is that it often tends to affirm the comfortable certainties of gender stereotypes, instead of challenging and deconstructing them in the vein of western liberalism.
In order to ensure maximum productivity from its citizens, the Soviet state needed its women to be as motherly as possible, while the men needed to be paternal in an exemplary way. The children are the elemental forces of nature, they stand for a spontaneity that is malleable, and must be shaped according to the dominant consciousness. Chelemeye Manush Kora Proshonge announces that the speciality of a child's character is that it is flexible, incredibly flexible Clearly, the children are the soft raw materials who will be conditioned to grow up into pillars of strength to the Russian nation.
And for this purpose, the renowned nineteenth century Russian educationist, Konstantin Ushinsky is freely quoted and pressed to service in Chelemeye Manush Kora Proshonge; for example, it is asserted through Ushinsky's statement that imparting knowledge to children and making their intelligence flourish are not sufficient, because children must learn to thirst to undertake labour for people's welfare 9.
The Soviet state valued hard work, because it was built upon hard, superhuman labour. So it wanted to instil that value among the children. A boy needs to know about the real handsomeness of men, that consists of intelligence, strength and generosity, as Chelemeye Manush Kora Proshonge observes The parents are told: your son will one day have to be a man, will have to be that person who in ancient times used to be called the stronger component of humankind, and even the worthiest part of the nation The patriarchal language of traditional Russia is unmistakeable.
This book, published in encapsulates the essence of an old Russia that has withstood the vagaries of time: it used to be tsarist, then it was Stalinist, and it was now witnessing Gorbachev. The lessons from the ancient times were reissued time and again in the interest of the Russian regime. And nowhere else such lessons are imparted with such a degree of efficacy as in the fairy tales. Indeed, their messages appear in oversized italics and rely on the hermeneutical drumbeat of emphatic iteration repetition, conveniently, being a cardinal feature of fairy tales.
It is no coincidence that the premier Soviet directors of fairy-tale screen adaptations, Alexander Ptushko and Alexander Rou, thrived during Stalinism an era dominated by the brutally utopian slogan: 'We were born to make fairy tales come true'. Soviet society's leaders became 'fathers' with Stalin as the patriarch ; the national heroes, model 'sons'; the state, a 'family' We may notice that this familial feature singularly characterises the formation of nationalist discourse in most parts of the world where the organic ties of kinship are evoked to press the citizen to the service of the nation, as nation becomes identifiable with immediate kinship and familial bond.
The call of the socialist fatherland during the time of Stalin has distinct echoes of nationalism. But what is more important is that across the decades, the latent nationalist character of the Soviet Russian propaganda literature remained unchanged. In Ispat too, Pavel Korchagin forms a community with the fellow believers in communism, that has organic kinship as its model of cohesion.
Every mentor is a substitute father, and every trainee a son.
The trainee gradually attains maturity and becomes a father figure himself, ready to inspire others and leave behind a legacy, which is the final destiny of Pavel Korchagin. Korchagin is the archetypical positive hero, and it is quite interesting to note that the positive hero has been a part of the traditional Russian narrative.
Particularly within nineteenth century realist texts, the positive hero looms large, according to Clark, who points out: However, the positive hero has always played a role in the greater tradition of Russian literature consider, for example, the heroes of Dostoevsky.
This reflects the greater moral fervor to be found in modern Russian literature than in the West. Since the mid-nineteenth century, Russian critics have joined Russian writers setting out two tasks for literature that, although found in Western literature, have certainly not characterized it for roughly the past hundred years. In all likelihood some of the first Soviet books were printed and published from Kolkata we have already seen one example , probably because of the adverse logistics involved in a mass import, and given that the political climate was hostile to the communists in Bengal during the early s.
However, as more and more Soviet books started appearing directly from Soviet Union, the need for Kolkata reprints of Soviet books would not arise until the fall of , following which some popular Soviet books again would be printed from Kolkata John Reed's Duniya Knapano Dosh Din is a prime example of CPM-controlled National Book Agency's venture into reprints of Soviet classics in the post-Soviet era.
The publications that we are concerned with here are the specific texts which were inspired and influenced by the Soviet ideological machinery, but were works composed by Bengali authors, published from Kolkata, not straightforward translations as such, but very much operating within the generic Soviet paradigms.
Here I intend to discuss one work of fiction by Dineshchandra Chattopadhyay, Duronto Eagle and a non-fictional propaganda work centred on Soviet Children by Shyamal Chakraborty, Shishutirthe Shishura as type studies. We shall see that both of these two texts have soviet templates as their model. Chakraborty, a minister in the CPM-led WB government and one of the top leaders of the party, went to Soviet Union for medical treatment and lived in a sanatorium near Yalta by the black sea, and he went to visit Artek, the most famous Pioneer the advanced group of Soviet boys and girls who were brought together in a scout-like formation camp of Soviet Union, established in Jawaharlal Nehru himself made a visit to Artek in , and Artek continued to be the prized poster of Soviet propaganda focused on children.
This Bengali translation came after Chakraborty's memoir was published, but both of them open with a rather tempting description of the breathtaking scenic beauty of this place in Fig. The descriptions of the geography and history of the seaside town of Hurzuf where Artek is situated given by Chakraborty and Bharti are very similar, and it rouses a suspicion that both of them are probably copying from the Soviet propaganda handed down to them, since they are speaking in one voice in spite of being separated from each other by language and time in all likelihood Bharti did not read Bengali and he could not anyway read Chakraborty who wrote his memoir prior to Bharti's travels in Soviet Union.
The Soviet propaganda machine insisted that the only privileged classes of Soviet Union were its children, and both Chakraborty and Bharti make it a point to begin their respective texts with this exhortation, while highlighting the adage of Lenin: the best things are meant for the children.
Both Chakraborty and Bharti fondly describe the myth of the bear mountain Ayu-Dag near the Artek camp in almost similar language. The standard pacifism of the Brezhnev era stemming from the Soviet curtailing of Defence budget utilised and mobilised the children to bring forth the message of world peace, and both Chakraborty and Bharti devote lengthy attentions to the pacifist movement launched internationally by the Artek Pioneers.
In addition, Bharti also takes the name of Nehru in support of the Soviet agenda for world peace, while both Chakraborty and Bharti are calling for greater cooperation and contact between the children of Soviet Union and India. The facilities in the Artek camp are specially advertised in both the works, with an emphasis on the free services that the children enjoy there, contrasting it with the standard capitalist state's lack of welfare policies.
The descriptions are indeed tantalisingly attractive, and bear testimony to the psychological effect of Soviet propaganda aimed at the children and adults alike, helping the spontaneous segments of the populace attain the nirvana of consciousness. One is with background music and the other, by Sarvabhavana das, is a simple reading with no background music.
Mahabharata in Translation English. The Following information is from Dr. Bengali Complete translation by Kali Prasanna Singha. Sanskrit text with English translation. Sanskrit text according to Chitrashala Press, Pune. English tr. South Asian Studies. Set of 9 books. Deluxe Hardcover Edition Rs. The Mahabharata of Vyasa English Prose Translation Posted on June 30, 49 Comments The translation was done directly from the Sanskrit source during the years by Kisari Mohan Ganguli and this is often refered to as the comprehensive Ganguli translation of the Mahabharata.