Mark Lipovetsky


Dmitri N. Shalin

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Postmodernist discourse has become central to literary criticism in the 1990s. Unlike many other literary discourses, it was never formally announced, yet beginning in the late 1980s (with Mikhail Epstein’s articles) it took over almost all literary publications and effectively led to a new polarization of literary forces. If, during the first years of Perestroika, literary and cultural factions were divided primarily along political lines, with Western liberal sympathizers and anti-Communists on one side, and nationalist defenders of Communism on the other, then by the middle of the 1990s debate about postmodernism had split the liberals into those who sided with postmodernism and those who backed the “realist tradition.” For example, while the journal Znamia [The Banner] welcomed postmodernist experiments in its pages, such pioneers of 1960s liberalism and the dissident movement of the 1970s and ‘80s as the journals Novyi Mir [New World] and Kontinent [The Continent] tried to exclude the anti-realists in every possible way. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a standard-bearer of Russian anti-Communism from the 1960s onward, expresssed his indignation regarding postmodernism in 1993:

Thus we witness, over history’s various thresholds, a recurrence of one and the same perilous anti-cultural phenomenon, with its rejection of and contempt for all foregoing traditions, and with its mandatory hostility toward whatever is universally accepted. Before, it burst upon us with the fanfares and gaudy flags of ‘futurism’; today the term ‘postmodernism’ is applied. . . . There is no God, there is no truth, the universe is chaotic, all is relative -- ’the world as text,’ a text any postmodernist is willing to compose. How clamorous it all is, but also -- how helpful.


Communism and literature; Postmodernism (Literature); Russian literature – History and criticism; Soviet literature – History and criticism


Arts and Humanities | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Slavic Languages and Societies



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