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How Life Writes the Book: Real Socialism and Socialist Realism in Stalin's Russia [Paperback]

Thomas Lahusen


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Book Description

March 2002
"A gripping, unsettling, and highly original book that turns the making of a Soviet socialist-realist classic--Azhaev's Far from Moscow--into a detective story, and sheds as strange and ambiguous a light on the Stalin era, from gulag to Writers' Union, as one could hope for. Lahusen is a disarmingly low-key scholarly virtuoso who performs simultaneously as an archive-based historian, an interpreter of texts (including Azhaev's own self-organized archive), and a gently relentless biographer whose stalking of his prey is reminiscent of Nabokov. The final chilling paragraph typically economical and understated, is a reminder that the author/investigator, too, is a collaborator in the multiple reworkings of Azhaev's text, and of his life, that How Life Writes the Book has so finely analyzed."--Sheila Fitzpatrick, University of Chicago

"This is a wonderfully original work: a history of a book, a literary analysis of an age, a montage of a life. Lahusen writes with a postmodern sensibility but without the postmodernist jargon."--Yuri Slezkine, University of California, Berkeley

"Thomas Lahusen has written an imaginative and archivally grounded book that presents the most fascinating picture to date of the literary process that produced canonical works of Socialist Realism and the people who wrote them. How Life Writes the Book is alternatingly chilling and funny as it demonstrates the interpenetration of literary institutions, massive construction projects and the Soviet system of prison camps and slave labor. With this study, as with his earlier Intimacy and Terror, Lahusen continues his own project of revolutionizing our understanding of the Soviet subject and Soviet subjectivity."--Eric Naiman, University of California, Berkeley

"Lahusen's case study marks a new genre of inquiry into the very nature of socialist realism, a genre which became possible after archives and memory in Russia regained their voice. It shows how life is transformed into Soviet myth."--Hans Gnther, editor of The Culture of the Stalin Period

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801484235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801484230
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 14.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 367 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,733,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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