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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Неприкосновенный запас » №4, 2014


The 96th NZ issue was put together on the eve of the centenary of World War One. Consequently, the pan-European catastrophe that served as a precursor for yet another 20th century disaster became one of the issue's central topics. Since NZ is not a strictly academic magazine, spanning instead different areas of humanities, the “war theme” is considered here in various contexts.

The first section is entirely focused on the events of 1914–1918 and their consequences for the life of the continent: political, social and cultural. Vadim Mikhailin analyses Andrzej Wajda's famous film “The Maids of Wilko”, linking it to the memory of the war and the prewar world, while the point from which those events are recounted is located in socialist Poland. The theme of WWI is therefore seen through the tragedy of WWII. Yaroslav Shimov's article describes revolutionary transformations in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the three empires (German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian), the national states that “suddenly” emerged on the ruins of those empires, as well as their interwar history that unfolded in the shadow of WWI. The section concludes with an article by Anna Uryadova, discussing the interpretation of the Great War by some of the first-wave Russian émigrés.

The first section is followed by another (Culture of Politics), focused on the same topic. It offers an analysis of Russia's current political context, as well as the way the Great War is interpreted in it. Alexey Makarkin's article, “Memory of the Forgotten War: Political Aspects”, focuses on today's political sphere, while Dmitry Gorin explains why WWI can never fit in the new official view of the country's history.

In the pages of Case Study, Olga Edelman, relying on archive materials, attempts to reconstruct with utmost precision the circumstances of Stalin's Siberian exile. The dictator-to-be spent most of the war in the village of Turukhansk, either oblivious of the global historical events or having little knowledge of them. In his column Old World Chronicles, Kirill Kobrin presents a historico-cultural analysis of Arthur Conan Doyle's story “His Last Bow”, in which the famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes finds himself, for the first and last time, in the service of the state. Alexander Kustarev considers various historiographical versions of the reasons behind the “senseless” world war, offering his own answer (Political Imaginary).

The second section, “Practices of Cultural Conformity”, describes a number of sociocultural practices and strategies that emerged in the USSR. Maria Litovskaya (“Creative Potential of Demonstrative Conformism of the Soviet Writer”), talks about a demonstrative, deliberate way of following the rules and precepts set by the Communist Party and the government. Tatyana Kruglova undertakes a conceptual analysis of the conformist attitudes of Soviet cultural workers; a subject that, as we know, was first tackled by Boris Pasternak and Yuri Olesha and further explored in Lydia Ginzburg's brilliant works. A piece by Konstantin Bogdanov examines singing-songwriting, a pop music genre whose prominence in Russia is evident today, which “shimmers” between conformism and nonconformism.

This section is complemented by Alexander Khramov's article “Live Map of the Empire” (Politics of Culture). The piece briefly captures the history of the Exhibition of National Economic Achievements, one of the symbols of the Soviet era, presented in terms of colonial and imperial symbols, allegories and metaphors used by the creators of the VDNKh, Soviet artists and architects, over decades.

In addition to the topical sections, this NZ volume contains a number of separate pieces. The issue opens with a translated article by the famous American social philosopher and essayist Charles Wright Mills. Titled “On Knowledge and Power”, the article is based on a lecture delivered by Mills at a meeting of the Columbia College Alumni Association on 20 March 1954. The so-called “expert examination” (carried out by academics) in “extremism”-related criminal cases is a sensitive issue in present-day Russia. Examinations of this kind are described in Dmitry Dubrovsky's article “Texts of the Special Pragmatics (Trolling and Travesty) as a Research Problem” (Morals and Mores). Finally, Politics of Culture features a curious piece by Alek D. Epstein and Andrey Kozhevnikov under the self-explanatory title “Artist Popular among Rich Tourists? Who and How Made Henri Matisse”.

The issue also contains Alexey Levinson's regular column (Sociological Lyrics) and the New Books section, where one can find reviews of three historical studies on the subject of WWI.


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