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Romantic Subversions of Soviet Enlightenment: Questioning Socialism's Reason

One year after Nikita Khrushchev’s famous “secret speech,” Voprosy Literatury (Literary Issues), a new Soviet journal dedicated entirely to topics in literary theory, history, and criticism, published an essay that initiated a long-term intellectual discussion. In her article, Anna Elistratova, an expert on the English romantic novel, directly challenged the aesthetic doctrine of the post-Stalin period by asking, “When it comes to the artistic perception of the world, can we really say that realism is historically the only effective method we should rely on?” Was it not time to admit, the essay continued, that the legacy of romanticism, with its humanistic dreams and rebellious outbursts, could still offer an important source of inspiration for progressive socialist art?

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