chapter  2
22 Pages

Writers, Readers, Society, and Literary Change

WithNadya L. Peterson

The first post-Stalinist works in a fantastic vein began to appear in the early seventies, when writers were encouraged to broaden the thematic range of Soviet literature and improve its image. Even as the push for change came from the establishment, the transformation of literary discourse also occurred as a result of the pull of laws inherent in literature itself. Fantastic prose represented a continuum in Russian letters, but of an innovative kind. Standard socialist realist novels were animated by science fiction subplots, yet could also offer nostalgic accounts of the idyllic past; traditional works about village life focused on the sacred past and on the Utopian future; chronicles of everyday life of urban dwellers included science fiction, fairy-tale magic, or gothic fantasy. A number of novels written during the fantastic decade attempted to update, or make more sophisticated, the basic socialist realist formula by the simple means of temporal and spatial expansion.