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Additional info for The Russian Reading Revolution: Print Culture in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Eras

Sample text

31 Despite the concessions it made to the prevailing ideology of reading, Chitatel' i pisatel' drew constant criticism from rival publications and was duly closed down at the end of 1928. It had already done too much to expose the gulf that still existed between professionalliterary critics and other readers. This struggle for cultural hegemony was brought to a head in 1930, when Gosizdat published Adrian Toporov's Krest'iane a pisateliakh, a book which, unlike all the other publications on nizovaia kritika, took as its subject the peasant reader.

As a result, in the West culture had lost its great power to unify and civilize, while in Russia it retained this power. The Western reading public was fragmented, its Soviet counterpart united: the Soviet reader truly spoke with one voice. Third, the existence of a universal Soviet reader proved that culture could be universal: national tensions, social conflict, inequality and disparity were, accordingly, ruled out. Fourth, in the figure of the Soviet reader were fused intelligentsia and narod; thus one of the perennial tensions of Russian history and culture was resolved.

In the period of the Thaw, however, the Party's concern was not simply to monitor the costs of printing and distribution and to act as a watchdog of ideological orthodoxy, slapping the wrists of editors who stepped out of line. It also hoped to accelerate cultural change through the promotion of a particular set of values. To this end a significant number of new journals and newspapers were established in the late 1950s: of 121 Soviet non-specialist journals in existence in 1987, Gudkov and Dubin calculate that twenty-nine (24 per cent) were set up in the period 1950-65.

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