The intelligentsia is dead, long live the intelligentsia! Alexander Solzhenitsyn on soviet dissidence and a new spiritual elite

Frances Nethercott*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This article explores the peculiar intermeshing of continuity and discontinuity in Russian culture through the prism of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s essay, 'Obrazovanshchina' ('The Smatterers'). Written in 1974 for the collective volume Iz-pod glyb (From Under the Rubble), Solzhenitsyn drew on arguments advanced by contributors to the famous pre-revolutionary work, Vekhi (Landmarks, 1909), both as a polemical tool to distance himself from his immediate contemporary rivals and as a template in his bid to establish a new spiritual elite in Brezhnev’s Soviet Russia. This article suggests that if one intention of Solzhenitsyn’s essay was to declare an irrevocable break with the culture of the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia tradition, the discursive tools he used to do this (intertextual devices, ad hominem polemics, selective historical and ideological narratives) remained firmly anchored within that tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-50
Number of pages22
JournalRussian Literature
Volume130
Early online date19 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Solzhenitsyn
  • Iz-pod glyb
  • Vekhi
  • Neo-Westernizers
  • Russophiles
  • History

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