Socialism and Lifestyle
DOI link for Socialism and Lifestyle
Socialism and Lifestyle book
“New, new, new is the star of Communism. Its communal labor is creating a new style and beyond it there is no modernity,” held Devětsil writers in their foreword to Jaroslav Seifert’s 1921 collection of poems (Seifert 1925, 2004). 2 Having been expelled from the Communist Party in 1929 for standing up to Stalinism, and persecuted both in the 1950s and after 1968 for critiquing postwar Czechoslovak Communism, Seifert won a Nobel Prize for his poetry in 1984, two years before he died. As was true of many other twentieth-century Czech artists, his life and work were a testament to the fact that personal histories rarely coincide neatly with political periodization. In 1921, however, Seifert’s voice captured, with precision and delight, both the generational investment in the idea of Communism and the urban artists’ excitement with modernity unfolding around and through them in Prague and “telegraphed in wirelessly” from other modern metropolises. 3 Seifert was a member of Devětsil, the first post-World War I association of avantgarde artists in the newly founded Czechoslovak Republic (1918). Established in Prague in 1920, the association brought together a young generation of left-oriented visual artists, writers, and architects, all dedicated to an aesthetic fusion of Communism and modernism. As the specific rationality or irrationality of that relationship was debated, as the images of utility and pleasure were aligned with the purity of the Communist idea (still unadulterated by the realities of its implementation), it was the inflections and atmospherics of the Communist lifestyle that were being rendered and sung in the literary and visual images produced by Devětsil members.