Moscow, the Fourth Rome by Katerina Clark
Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941

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Synopsis

In the early sixteenth century, the monk Filofei proclaimed Moscow the “Third Rome.” By the 1930s, intellectuals and artists all over the world thought of Moscow as a mecca of secular enlightenment. In Moscow, the Fourth Rome, Katerina Clark shows how Soviet officials and intellectuals, in seeking to capture the imagination of leftist and anti-fascist intellectuals throughout the world, sought to establish their capital as the cosmopolitan center of a post-Christian confederation and to rebuild it to become a beacon for the rest of the world.

Clark provides an interpretative cultural history of the city during the crucial 1930s, the decade of the Great Purge. She draws on the work of intellectuals such as Sergei Eisenstein, Sergei Tretiakov, Mikhail Koltsov, and Ilya Ehrenburg to shed light on the singular Zeitgeist of that most Stalinist of periods. In her account, the decade emerges as an important moment in the prehistory of key concepts in literary and cultural studies today—transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, and world literature. By bringing to light neglected antecedents, she provides a new polemical and political context for understanding canonical works of writers such as Brecht, Benjamin, Lukacs, and Bakhtin.

Moscow, the Fourth Rome breaches the intellectual iron curtain that has circumscribed cultural histories of Stalinist Russia, by broadening the framework to include considerable interaction with Western intellectuals and trends. Its integration of the understudied international dimension into the interpretation of Soviet culture remedies misunderstandings of the world-historical significance of Moscow under Stalin.

 

About Katerina Clark

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Katerina Clark is Professor of Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University.
 
Published November 15, 2011 by Harvard University Press. 432 pages
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Moscow, the Fourth Rome

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Clark's revelatory portrait of a scintillating future-facing metropolis should dispel the gloomy myth of Moscow in the 1930s—bleak and gray beneath its pall of purges and trials.

Oct 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stal...

Washington Independent Review of Books

Four key players in the Soviet cultural scene during the 1930s — Sergei Eisenstein, Mikhail Koltsov, Ilya Ehrenburg and Sergei Tretiakov — appear throughout the book as examples of Soviet cosmopolitanism, along with dozens of other Soviet writers and artists.

Feb 13 2012 | Read Full Review of Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stal...

London Review of Books

The print edition of the London Review of Books in which this book review appears and a downloadable PDF version of this book review are also available for purchase from the London Review Bookshop.

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