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Stalin’s Ghosts

Maguire, Muireann

Stalin’s Ghosts

Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature

Series: Russian Transformations: Literature, Culture and Ideas - Volume 4

Year of Publication: 2012

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2012. 331 pp.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0787-1 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.480 kg, 1.058 lbs

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Book synopsis

Stalin’s Ghosts examines the impact of the Gothic-fantastic on Russian literature in the period 1920-1940. It shows how early Soviet-era authors, from well-known names including Fedor Gladkov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Andrei Platonov and Evgenii Zamiatin, to niche figures such as Sigizmund Krzhizhanovskii and Aleksandr Beliaev, exploited traditional archetypes of this genre: the haunted castle, the deformed body, vampires, villains, madness and unnatural death. Complementing recent studies of Soviet culture by Eric Naiman and Lilya Kaganovsky, this book argues that Gothic-fantastic tropes functioned variously as a response to the traumas produced by revolution and civil war, as a vehicle for propaganda, and as a subtle mode of unwriting the cultural monolith of Socialist Realism.


Contents: What is Soviet Gothic? – Gothic Castles – Gothic Bodies – Gothic Death – Gothic Monsters – Gothic Returns.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Muireann Maguire is Career Development Fellow in Russian Literature and Culture at Wadham College, Oxford. Her research interests include Gothic aspects of Soviet literature, Russian émigré prose, and the representation of science and scientists in Russian literary and cinematic culture since 1850. Red Spectres, her translated selection of twentieth-century Russian Gothic tales, was published in 2012.


«As a standalone text, this book constitutes a valuable contribution to Soviet studies, introducing us to many lesser-known stories and writers and to new sides of more commonly studied texts. Most important, it reveals the dark underside of Soviet culture in the period from 1920 to 1940, the ghosts and vampires that haunted the dark corners of brightly-lit Socialist Realism.» (Eric Laursen, The Russian Review 72, 2013/4)


Russian Transformations: Literature, Thought, Culture. Vol. 4
Edited by Andrew Kahn