About the Journals «Zvezda» and «Leningrad»

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last updated 20030713

Russkij tekst (Original Russian text)


Newspaper of the Directorate of Propaganda and Agitation of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)

No. 6 -- Tuesday, 20 August 1946 -- Price 50 kopeks

p. 1

On the Journals «Zvezda» and «Leningrad»

From a resolution of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), 14 August 1946

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union determines that the publishing of the Leningrad literary-artistic magazines “Zvezda” and “Leningrad” is being carried out in a wholly unsatisfactory manner.

Recently in “Zvezda” magazine, along with important and worthwhile works of Soviet writers, there have appeared many worthless, ideologically harmful works. A crude mistake of “Zvezda” is the offering of a literary platform to the writer [M.M.] Zoshchenko, whose productions are alien to Soviet literature. The editorial staff of “Zvezda” is well aware that Zoshchenko has long specialized in writing empty, vapid, and vulgar things, in spreading putrid nonsense, vulgarity and indifference to politics, so as to mislead our young people and poison their consciousness. Lately in the press, Zoshchenko’s story “Adventures of an Ape” (“Zvezda” Nos. 5 and 6, 1946) presents a vulgar libel on the Soviet way of life and on Soviet people. Zoshchenko portrays Soviet order and Soviet people in a freakishly caricatured way, slanderously presenting Soviet people as primitive, lacking culture, stupid, with narrow minds and tastes and tempers. The spiteful hooligan-like image Zoshchenko has of our reality is accompanied by anti-Soviet attacks.

Giving the pages of “Zvezda” over to such literary pretenders and riff-raff as Zoshchenko was especially intolerable because the editors of “Zvezda” well knew Zoshchenko’s physiognomy and his unworthy behavior during the war, when Zoshchenko, doing nothing to aid the Soviet nation in its struggle against the German invaders, wrote such a loathsome thing as “Before Sunrise,” an assessment of which, as well as an assessment of all of Zoshchenko’s literary “works,” has been given in the pages of “Bol’shevik” magazine.

In addition, “Zvezda” in every way popularizes work by the authoress Akhmatova, whose literary and socio-political physiognomy has been known to Soviet people for a long, long time. Akhmatova is a typical exponent of empty, frivolous poetry that is alien to our people. Permeated by the scent of pessimism and decay, redolent of old-fashioned salon poetry, frozen in the positions of bourgeois-aristocratic aestheticism and decadence – “art for art’s sake” – not wanting to progress forward with our people, her verses cause damage to the upbringing of our youth and cannot be tolerated in Soviet literature.

Giving Zoshchenko and Akhmatova active roles in the magazine, undoubtedly, brought in elements of ideological disorder and disorganization amongst writers in Leningrad. In the magazine there began to appear works cultivating a spirit of servility, uncharacteristic of the Soviet people, before the current bourgeois culture of the West. There began to be published works penetrated with depression, pessimism, and disillusionment with life (verses by Sadofeva and Komissarova in issue #1 of 1946 etc.). Publishing these works, the editorial staff aggravated their mistakes and, even more, degraded the ideological level of the magazine.

Tolerating the penetration into the magazine of works alien in ideological attitude, the editorial staff also lowered the standards for artistic quality in publishing literary material. The paper began to be filled with unedifying plays and stories (“The Way of Time” by Jagdfeld, “Swan Lake” by Stein). Such carelessness in the choice of materials for publication resulted in a deterioration of the artistic level of the magazine.

The Central Committee notes that “Leningrad” magazine is directed particularly badly, as it constantly offered its pages to the vulgar and slanderous statements of Zoshchenko and to the vapid and apolitical verses of Akhmatova. Like the editorial staff of “Zvezda,” the editorial staff of “Leningrad” magazine permitted gross errors, publishing a series of works that were permeated with a spirit of cringing servility before everything foreign. The magazine printed a number of erroneous works (“An Event over Berlin” by Varshavsky and Rest, “On Picket Duty” by Slonimsky). In the poem “The Return of Onegin” by Khazin, in the guise of literary parody, there was made a libel against contemporary Leningrad. In “Leningrad” magazine they publish mainly insipid, low-grade literary materials.

How was it possible that “Zvezda” and “Leningrad” magazines, published in the Hero City of Leningrad, so well known for its progressive revolutionary traditions, a city that has always been an incubator for progressive ideas and progressive culture, allowed the dragging into the magazines of that which is vapid and apolitical, alien to Soviet literature?

In what respect has the editorial staff of “Zvezda” and “Leningrad” erred?

The leading workers of the magazines, and especially their senior editors Comrades Sayanov and Likharev forgot the position of Leninism, that our magazines, whether they be scientific or artistic, cannot be apolitical. They forgot that our magazines serve as a powerful instrument of the Soviet state in the matter of educating Soviet people and especially young people, and therefore must be guided by that which constitutes the vital foundation of the Soviet system – its politics. The Soviet system cannot endure educating young people in a spirit of apathy towards Soviet politics, in a spirit of indifference and empty ideas.

The strength of Soviet literature, the most progressive literature in the world, consists of this, that it is a literature which cannot have any other interests but the interests of the people and the interests of the state. The task of Soviet literature is this, to help the state educate our young people correctly, to answer their requirements, to raise a new generation to be energetic, believing in its cause, not fearing obstacles, ready to overcome every obstacle.

Therefore every propagation of empty ideas, of apolitical thoughts, of “art for art’s sake,” is alien to Soviet literature, harmful to the interests of the Soviet people and state and should not have a place in our magazines.

The ideological failings of the leading workers of “Zvezda” and “Leningrad” also led to these workers putting their own attitudes at the foundation of their relations with writers, not the interests of correct education of Soviet people and the political tendency of the writers' activities, but rather personal interests and friendships. Because of a reluctance to harm friendly relationships, criticism was blunted. Because of a fear of offending friends, they allowed the printing of plainly unsuitable works. This sort of liberalism (by which the interests of the people and the state, the interests of correctly educating our young people, are sacrificed to personal friendships) stifles criticism; moreover it causes writers to stop improving, and, losing awareness of their responsibilities before the people, before the state, before the Party, they cease to move forward.

All of the above bears witness that the editorial staff of “Zvezda” and “Leningrad” magazines did not manage the job entrusted to them well and allowed serious political errors in the direction of the magazines.

The Central Committee determines that the Executive Committee of the Soviet Writers’ Union and, in particular, its chairman Comrade Tikhonov, did not take any measures to improve “Zvezda” and “Leningrad” magazines. Not only did they not lead the struggle against the pernicious influence on Soviet literature of Zoshchenko, Akhmatova and other similar un-Soviet authors, but they even facilitated the penetration into the magazines of tendencies and customs alien to Soviet literature.

The Leningrad City Committee of the CPSU, having overlooked extremely serious errors of the magazines, abdicated from leadership of the magazines, and gave the opportunity to people alien to Soviet literature such as Zoshchenko and Akhmatova to hold leading positions in the magazines. In addition, knowing the attitude of the Party towards Zoshchenko and his “creative work,” the Leningrad City Committee (Comrades Kapustin and Shirokov), not having the right to do so, confirmed by the decision of the City Committee of 26 June, this year, the new membership of the editorial board of “Zvezda” which even includes Zoshchenko. Similarly, the Leningrad City Committee permitted a crude political mistake. “Leningrad Pravda” committed a mistake, allowing a contemptible laudatory review by Yuri German about the creations of Zoshchenko in the issue of 8 July, this year.

The Directorate of Propaganda of the Central Committee of the CPSU did not ensure proper supervision of the work of the Leningrad magazines.

The Central Committee of the CPSU resolves:

[End of partial transcription in the magazine «Kul'tura i ZHizn'».]

Addtional points (5-13) from the same decree, printed in the newspaper «Pravda», 21 August 1946:

A few notes on A.A. Zhdanov.

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