The collapse of the Soviet Union brought about radical changes in the Russian
literary world. With the state's relinquishment of control over literary production,
writers acquired freedom of expression and publication. State publishing
houses, now self-supporting enterprises, stopped printing money-losing books
and turned to foreign detective novels and erotic literature, effecting a considerable
shift in popular taste. The writer, no longer a producer of ideology, has been
recast as a struggling competitor in a free-market environment.
Focusing on the current Russian literary scene, Russian Literature, 1988-1994
examines these recent changes. Beginning with a general overview of the political,
intellectual, and social atmosphere in the country and its effect on artistic
creativity, Shneidman surveys the period's literature. He considers the work of
succeeding generations of prose fiction writers: the 'old guard,' the writers of the
intermediate generation, and the younger authors of perestroika, whose works
first appeared in print after Gorbachev's ascent to power. The writing of this last
group is divided into three categories: novels written in the style of conventional
Russian realism; works that combine realistic prose with modernist narrative
techniques; and the body of work that constitutes Russian post-modernism.
Exploring artistic and social issues in an integrated manner, the volume will be
of interest not only to students of Russian literature but also to those concerned
with the culture and social life of the former Soviet Union.