Fear and the Muse Kept Watch

Fear and the Muse Kept Watch

The Russian Masters--from Akhmatova and Pasternak to Shostakovich and Eisenstein--under Stalin

Book - 2015
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Can great art be produced in a police state? Josif Stalin ran one of the most oppressive regimes in world history. Nevertheless, Stalinist Russia produced an outpouring of artistic works of immense power--from the poems of Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam to the opera Peter and the Wolf, the film Alexander Nevsky, and the novels The Master and Margarita and Doctor Zhivago. More than a dozen great artists were visible enough for Stalin to take an interest in them--which meant he chose whether they were to live in luxury and be publicly honored or to be sent to the Lubyanka for torture and execution. Journalist and novelist Andy McSmith brings together the stories of these artists--including Isaac Babel, Boris Pasternak, Dmitri Shostakovich, and many others--revealing how they pursued their art often at great personal risk. It was a world in which the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, whose bright yellow tunic was considered a threat to public order under the tsars, struggled to make the communist authorities see the value of avant garde art; Babel publicly thanked the regime for allowing him the privilege of not writing; and Shostakovich's career veered wildly between public disgrace and wealth and acclaim. An extraordinary work of historical recovery, Fear and the Muse Kept Watch is also a bold exploration of the triumph of art during terrible times.
Publisher: New York : The New Press, 2015
ISBN: 9781595580566
Characteristics: 339 pages ; 25 cm


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