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A transcript of JV Stalinʹs speech ʺIn connection with the question of the filmʺ The Law of Life ʺ
A transcript of JV Stalinʹs speech at a meeting in the Central Committee of the All‐Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) ʺIn connection with the question of the filmʺ The Law of Life ʺAO Avdeenko.ʺ September 9, 1940.
Source: I. V. Stalin. Historical ideology in the USSR in the 1920s‐1950s: Correspondence with historians, articles and notes on history, transcripts of the speech Collection of documents and materials Part 1.
Archive: RGASPI F. 558. Op. 11.D. 1124.L. 67‐145. 1940 typescript.
From the editors of the site. Here is a transcript of a meeting in the Central Committee of the All‐Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) on the film ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ and an article from the newspaper ʺPravdaʺ dated August 16,
1940, criticizing the film.
Processed into text by Alexander Timakov.
List of meeting participants in connection with the issue of the film
ʺLaw of Lifeʺ Avdeenko A.O.
09.09.1940 at 18.30
1. Stalin I.V.
2. Zhdanov A.A.
3. Malenkov G.M.
4. Andreev A.A.
5. Poskrebyshev A.N.
6. Pospelov P.N.
7. Alexandrov G.F.
8. Fadeev A.A.
9. Lozovsky S.A.
10. Polikarpov D.A.
11. Avdeenko A.O.
12. Stolper A.B.
13. Ivanov B.G.
14. Bolshakov I.G.
15. V.P. Kataev
16. Lebedev‐Kumach V.I.
17. Fedin K.A.
18. Trenev K.A.
19. Sobolev L.S.
20. Pogodin N.F.
21. Bakhmetyev V.M.
22. Aseev N.N. List who spoke at the meeting on 9.09.1940 at 18:30?
1. T. Zhdanov.
2. T. Avdeenko.
3. T. Stalin.
4. T. Lozovsky.
5. T. Fadeev.
6. T. Lebedev‐Kumach.
7. T. Kataev.
8. T. Aseev.
9. T. Sobolev.
10. T. Fedin.
11. T. Ivanov.
12. T. Stolper.
13. T. Pogodin.
14. T. Stalin.
Meeting dated September 9, 1940.
Comrade Zhdanov presides.
Zhdanov. (The beginning was not stenographed)
Now, the Central Committee has learned that two years ago, around 1938, Avdeenko wrote another work that did not see the light of day ‐ ʺThe State is Meʺ.
And, it turns out, we learned about this later than the review appeared in Pravda, that Lozovsky criticized this novel and that this novel did not see the light of day.
It is interesting to note that the conclusions reached by Lozovsky, they coincided mainly with those conclusions reached by the review of Pravda.
I will permit myself to read out Lozovskyʹs letter to Avdeenko, dated October 1938. Itʹs a little long, but interesting, (reads).
As you can see, this review, which the Central Committee learned about only a few days ago, surprisingly coincides with what is written in the review about the Law of Life.
Why has the Central Committee called this conference? Thatʹs why. We believed that the review published in the central organ Pravda, which presents a very serious and just accusation to the author of the script, should have caused some kind of reaction. Almost a month has passed since the publication of the review, and Comrade. Avdeenko is silent. Why is comrade silent Avdeenko? If he thinks this review is unfair, let him prove it. This review is placed in the central organ of the Central Committee of the Party and its silence seems incomprehensible to us. And if you take his silence in the light of the fact that he kept silent about the criticism of the novel ʺThe State is Meʺ ...
AVDEENKO. This is Comrade. Lozovsky said that I was silent.
ANDREEV. Essentially nothing is said there.
Zhdanov. How does the film ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ differ from the novel ʺThe State is Meʺ? This is a political falsehood. The review says more than convincingly about this. And artistically, in relation to the penetration of Artsybashevism. Who gave the right to Comrade Avdeenko write like this and try to smuggle this kind of work? This is the question that we wanted to ask comrade. Avdeenko.
AVDEENKO. Why are the reviews the same? Obviously, because I do not agree with Comrade Lozovsky on this. I wrote the novel ʺThe State is Meʺ. I live in Donbass and I know people, I know miners. The novel ʺThe State is Meʺ shows more miners than Trotskyists. And all these statements seem scary to people who have not read the novel. I put the novel aside to work on. These statements seem scary, but these are not my statements, these are statements by negative characters and therefore these statements do not seem scary to me. It seems to me that these statements make it possible to know the essence of these people, what guided them when they took action against the people, against the party. This is how I can explain this novel. If you are interested in a novel marked by comrade. Lozovsky and editorial notes, I can give.
Why are the reviews the same? Again, because I wrote ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ and was convinced that this was the way to write, like the novel ʺThe State is Meʺ, so that the enemies were not as straightforward as they were shown up to now. I wrote the script and handed it over to the studio. There Ognerubov is much more disgusting than in the picture, he was a notorious enemy, he gave instructions to corrupt young people. I was told that it is not interesting ‐ there are ten ‐ fifteen such films that from the first frame it is clear that it is an enemy. It is not interesting. We must show how the enemy seduces. We must show the enemy of the people in such a way that we do not know him, that is, show him well outwardly, but inwardly he is a scoundrel.
This opinion prevailed not only in the studio, but it was also in the committee, it was among the screenwriters, directors, that the enemy should be shown more subtly, not so black, and from here I veiled him so that later I could expose him. The directors also had this point of view. Many, obviously, read the review of Pravda and Comrade Lozovsky that in essence two years had passed, and I continued to look at the enemy in such a way as not to give it to such blacks.
Zhdanov. You did not agree with Comrade Lozovskyʹs review and therefore continued to write as it is.
AVDEENKO. Even now I disagree with Comrade Lozovskyʹs opinion.
ANDREEV. You do not tell comrade Lozovsky about this directly.
AVDEENKO. I remember what I wrote about.
Zhdanov. You can read it out.
AVDEENKO. I remember this letter very well. Of course, this letter offended me very much, offended because all these sins are attributed to me, as if I were to blame. Comrade Lozovsky writes that I consider a woman disgusting and that for me, as a writer, a woman is just as disgusting as for Ivan Petrovich.
Zhdanov. It turns out this way. Here is your ideological disorder. You put it in your mouth and then pretend that you are exposing the enemy. The exposure turned out in the review. There the ideology of Ognerubov is based on Marx and Lenin.
The fact is that the needs of love are depicted as follows: love as much as you want, love who you want, love whenever you want.
On the contrary, all this is veiled by jealousy, which was played by the feeling of jealousy. Your main fault is that there are no goodies. Unfortunately, I could not read all your works, I didn’t have time to do it properly, but I did read something, for example, ʺDestinyʺ. If you take Storozhilov or Nikolai, they are active agents in relation to love, i.e. You endow your goodies entirely with the qualities of Ognerubov. And this is in ʺDestinyʺ and in ʺThe State is meʺ. Hereʹs the coincidence. It so happened that you continue to impose on our youth, our literature and our public the cult of this Artsybashevism. But thatʹs not the point. The main thing is that you portray your enemies as strong, and your people as weak. You yourself say that enemies should be shown strong and your people weak.
I read the script, read “The State is Me”, why is the same thing repeated in these works, the enemies are shown as strong, authoritative, they are endowed with all the qualities of strong people, and our people are shown as puny, pale. Why is this?
AVDEENKO: I said that I do not agree with Comrade. Lozovsky not at all ...
Zhdanov: On the cult of licentiousness. Where you speak about love, everything happens spontaneously: he looked, she looked, and they met. After all, this thing is familiar to us, that he looked, she looked and agreed.
AVDEENKO: It is very difficult for me to speak after all that has befallen me. I tried to speak; I was interrupted. I repeat that I do not agree with Comrade. Lozovsky only in one, the most important thing, that my opinion is that women are so disgusting, that women are so disgusting as it seems to Ivan Petrovich, that, allegedly, I share this point of view. I do not agree with this that Ivan Petrovichʹs view is my view.
I did not impose this novel. You spoke to give to the Writersʹ Union. I said I wonʹt. I would have to work a lot on this novel, I would work as much as necessary. I did not impose this novel on anyone. For you personally, comrade. Lozovsky, I did not give this novel and did not personally offer it to your publishing house, I gave it to the magazine.
LOZOVSKY: This is our publishing house.
AVDEENKO: But personally, I did not give it to you. For me, this novel is still important. The heroes of the Stakhanov generation are shown there. If it turned out unsuccessfully, an error turned out, I take it, it is correct, and I take any harsh words of yours.
I also disagree with the Pravda review that I did it deliberately.
That I was a coward in front of public opinion. Here an error occurred of the following order, that I had, where I wrote about the black enemy, I find it funny, and ashamed, and painful that I wrote about the enemy like that. Itʹs much more complicated. You yourself said, Comrade Petukhov, that the enemy spoke French, that he was much more cultured, that it was not necessary to kill a child for this to appear disgusting, the enemies were much more difficult. It seemed to me that the black enemy is a bad person, and it is not worth writing about him like that.
Then, when I undertook to write this script ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ, Chernyavsky is not here, but I was asked to write a script about the moral character of a young man. I must say that this was discussed several times in the Committee.
Zhdanov. A young Soviet man, or in general?
AVDEENKO. On the moral character of Soviet youth. The script was praised, the script was directed along the way so that the enemy was disguised, so that it would be clear why Nina and Natasha loved him, why he is kept as the secretary of the Komsomol, why he is not so quickly exposed. If he were black in the script, he would be quickly exposed, so you need to make the enemy as hidden as possible, i.e., hide the being and moral essence of this person.
I made it this way, it was taken apart, I was guided along this path in order to carefully veil its negative features and show what it hides behind each phrase. That was the task.
Zhdanov. But you havenʹt answered my question. I asked you why you say that Ognerubov had a rotten essence at a time when all the heroes that you deduced as positive heroes developed the same views on the attitude towards women. I have given you several names.
AVDEENKO. First, I want to say about the ʺLaw of Lifeʺ, because I was mistaken in the ʺLaw of Lifeʺ ...
Zhdanov. What began to be endowed with those traits that are inherent in positive types?
AVDEENKO. It was outwardly so that he hid the essence with a beautiful phrase, which influenced the bourgeois women, showed the outside, and this seduced the opinion, it seduced the directors and people who liked this script. And this mistake is not only mine, although this mistake is gross, because since I was sent in the Committee, in the studio, directed by comrades, directed by consultants, it means it is not accidental and it is not only my mistake. I loved it. I liked to write this way, to show people what this inferior personal life in a love relationship can bring to.
Now, if you remember, ʺFateʺ, ʺThe State is meʺ, ʺI loveʺ, there it also seemed to me that this is the law to love boldly. Iʹm not afraid, I understand the importance of this. They say to me “I love”, “Fate” ‐ there are simple relationships, trust in each other ‐ this is my creative slogan, I was guided by this, perhaps unconsciously when I wrote the novel “I love” and “Fate”. I donʹt see anything wrong with Storozhilov, who has earned this trust for several years of work in Magnitogorsk, when he talks with a girl, they have a simple relationship.
Zhdanov. In Novy Mir in 1936, shortly after the publication of Fate, there was a review in Novy Mir, where you were reproached in the same way for interpreting the relationship between a man and a woman as these (inaudible) Nedoli and daughter of Nedoli.
So, apparently, you considered yourself not obliged to respond to criticism in 1936, to criticism in 1940. You thought I liked it; I donʹt give a damn about the organ of the Central Committee. I am silent. I am my own master.
AVDEENKO. I have not yet said why I was silent.
Zhdanov. You said you disagree.
AVDEENKO. Comrade Zhdanov, itʹs hard for me to speak. I did not say this at all, which you attribute to me. I disagree with what was attributed to me. Why am I silent about this review in Pravda? I have not seen the film until today, they have not shown it to me, they did not ask me for my opinion, when the director put a question to the film studio about showing the film to the author, he was asked who would pay the author for the visit. I myself went to Bolshakov and asked to be shown the film. I was on a business trip in Lviv, in Bukovina.
I was not asked for my opinion. I was sitting in Kiev, writing a script. I finished the script and just arrived at your call. I went to Chernyavsky and Bolshakov, watched the film, and said that the criticism is indeed correct. I could not perform ahead of time. The criticism is absolutely correct, the criticism is harsh and fair. She did me a tremendous benefit, because I saw that it really did not coincide with my plans. There was lies and falsity in my designs. This is not how you need to live, not how you need to build your life. It seemed to me that when Sergei Paromov appeared on the screen, the viewer would be on his side, and not on the side of Ognerubov. Here is obviously my mistake here. I repeat that I was led down this path. And it would be easier for me to get lost on this path, because I had data for this,
Zhdanov. Did the directors shoot down? Did they push, apparently?
AVDEENKO. I never thought that the Central Committee would talk to me like that.
Zhdanov. Do you think that creativity is not under the control of the party?
AVDEENKO. No, I donʹt.
Zhdanov. Probably so you think that everyone is his own boss, as I want and do, none of your business, do not meddle in this area?
AVDEENKO. In the studio, they told me that you canʹt give an enemy in black, you need to give it covertly, you need the viewer to love him. I liked it. Iʹve seen dozens of film standard. It was necessary to veil it. It seemed to me correct to show the enemy like that. It turns out that this enemy led us into the jungle of the enemy.
Zhdanov. Why such indifference to the film? You say you didnʹt see the movie until you were summoned to the Central Committee.
AVDEENKO. This is not indifference.
Zhdanov. Whatʹs the matter? As if you should have raised a noise, whatʹs the matter, why are they scolding?
AVDEENKO. I only knew what was shown in the studio.
ANDREEV. They could go to Moscow. You have no anxiety. Such a review has been posted about you and there is no alarm.
AVDEENKO. I was very anxious.
ANDREEV. Your behavior is strange in this sense. Donʹt you find? You were criticized, and you remained silent.
AVDEENKO. I knew right away that I was wrong when the review came out. But I didnʹt know how the director would do it. I liked the pieces; the pieces were very good. I have not seen the party.
Zhdanov. She walked on the screen. This picture was not rejected in the studio, but on the screen. Not only the author of the script could see this picture, having gone to Moscow, but it was possible to see it on the screen. Maybe she walked in Kiev.
AVDEENKO. No, I didnʹt go to Kiev, only in Moscow and Leningrad. Is it indifference or not? No, this is not indifference. I thought that when I finished the script, I would go to Moscow. But they presented me with a demand ‐ you will work for a day, and then you will go.
I said that I would go to Moscow, and they told me when you hand over the script, then you will go. I realized my mistake at the same time as I read the article.
Zhdanov. It was necessary to let the public know about this, otherwise it turns out that you do not share this opinion. And you are standing in a position of silence.
AVDEENKO. For me it was quite clear that it was necessary to respond but does this solve the issue for a day or two.
Zhdanov. Almost a month has passed since August 16 ‐ the film was released on screens, everyone watched it.
AVDEENKO. Iʹm asking myself now, why donʹt I find my fault? I
immediately, after reading the article, realized that I was mistaken ‐ I, the director, were all mistaken together. I made up my mind that day and I knew that I would go to Moscow, write a letter, I knew that I would admit that there were mistakes. Therefore, it was okay that it would be one day later, although I was eager to go to Moscow, but they told me ‐ you canʹt leave the script, you need to finalize it.
Thatʹs just what I want to explain. Now I am so confused that I don’t know what words I can say. For example, take ʺThe State is Meʺ or ʺBillionaireʺ there are no enemies. In Billionaire, the woman is the hero. In the State, the cutter driver is a hero who works in a mine. There is no system of accusing me. In ʺDestinyʺ and in other works ‐ this is not. I cannot say that this is my system, that this is my law, that I live this way, I don’t want to say this, I don’t teach young people this.
Zhdanov. You were in Bessarabia, in Bukovina, you wrote in the newspaper ʺBattle (inaudible)ʺ, you wrote an article about Chernivtsi.
I will now credit it to you (reads the article). You see, you describe that there are beautiful buildings, beautiful streets. And then some worker moralist appears who says: yes, all this is fine, but not for workers and not for workers. Or take all your other works. Indeed, I will read a few words from the basement. You write what Chernivtsi is like, magnificent streets ... (reads)
You talk about this on a whole page. Then you describe the Chernivtsi theater, where you say that this theater is not inferior to the best theaters in the USSR, if only in size. Where did you get this from? Why did you decide that the Chernivtsi theater is not inferior to the theaters of the USSR and if inferior, then only in size?
Then you write further that in Chernivtsi there are about 20 films that are created for a joyful human life. You have been there for several days and you have such an impression. You got the impression that this theater is not inferior to our theaters.
STALIN. And the city is only two inches. Zhdanov: Just think, some kind of world center! STALIN: We know, narrow streets, they want to create a contrast, but it turns out badly.
Zhdanov: Whatʹs the matter?
STALIN: I am drawn to the old Chernivtsi.
Zhdanov: Is that so?
STALIN: There is enough paint for old Chernivtsi, but for ours ‐ his paint is running out.
Strange affair. He has little culture, an illiterate person, does not speak Russian, and how much he has literary impudence! You are amazed when you read.
The poet conveys the transfusion of the soul. Love is a powerful thing, but how does it convey? Is that how they write. A person has little culture, an illiterate person, not a poet, and as an axis, there is one main note: everything that concerns people who have become our enemies, he has enough colors to describe such people, there is logic, initiative. When you portray these people, you have an argument and whatever you like, but when you portray our people, the colors dry out, our people turn out to be some kind of crap. After all, pests can be portrayed in different ways. Take ʺGreat Citizenʺ especially the second series. There are enemies and friends there. Some have their own arguments; others have their own. The person understands that it is no coincidence that ours won, defeated, because we have more arguments. And read his works ‐ everything tends to be in the black light, in the light of backwardness,
Chernivtsi is a scrawny city, but there was enough paint for that, but for ours ‐ there is not enough paint. Cleverly hiding is not our man. How did you get into the party, on whose recommendation?
Gvahariya recommended it, Kabakov. What is it holding on to? On the fact that he has a working origin. Just think, you will not surprise us with this. The working class as a whole is a revolutionary, advanced class, but there are individuals in the working class. And your friend Kabakov is also a worker, and he wanted to sell Russia, a good fifth of
Russia, to the Japanese, Poles, and Germans.
Donʹt you know that?
Tomsky is also a former worker, and they supported Trotsky. So much for the former workers. Do you think every worker is worth its weight in gold? You are mistaken, and if you take all the imperialists of Sitrin and others, they are former workers. Among the advanced workers there is one stratum that uses their working origin and chooses everything appropriate in order to arrange their affairs and then sell the interests of the working class to their advantage. This is the law of life. Nine‐tenths of the working class ‐ gold, one‐tenth or one‐twentieth, or even one‐thousandth ‐ bastards who betrayed the interests of their class. They are everywhere, in all countries, and we like Tomsky, Kabakov, Zhukov, Evdokimov and others, they are not random people. This is the law of life. You love to write about the laws of life, and if you looked at this matter, it would have turned out differently.
The writer is not important, he has little culture and does not work on himself. Semi‐literate, does not speak Russian properly. What his language is ‐ it’s scary. How sloppy he is in style. After all, a writer is recognizable by style. The writer loves style, it is scary to look at his style and read his works.
He is not a party member and has never been a party member. This is our gullibility and our simplicity, this is what he went on, look at what Don Juan he draws for a socialist country, preaches tavern love, ultranatural love ‐ ʺI love you, go to bed.ʺ This is called poetry. Literature would then perish if people wrote that way.
LOZOVSKY. I want to make some posts.
This manuscript entered Krasnaya Nov ʹ. There she raised great doubts. Then Yermilov and three of his closest employees were the editor or deputy editor. This manuscript was read by Ermilov, Makarenko and Lebedinsky. They decided to call Avdeenko and explain to him. So, this thing has gone through some serious brainstorming.
STALIN. The party member was supposed to appear the very next day
and talk to the Central Committee, but he was hiding. After all, it is not for nothing that he is called a hoarder in Donbass, when they talk about Avdeyenko, they call him ‐ ʺthis hoarder.ʺ This person does not work. After all, he found time to buy himself all sorts of junk, but in order to come and say that this and that is the case, he could not. Heʹs a coward. This is the greatest coward.
Take his ʺLaw of Lifeʺ or ʺThe State is Meʺ ‐ this is a rather strange name as well as ʺLaw of Lifeʺ. Here the law of life was given ‐ he makes a hint for his own and echoes with them.
And he thought that people are busy, I’ll make my way through another day, maybe they will forget and pass. And it was terrible.
But people were busy with collective farms, industry, now, fortunately, a little time is left for this book.
LOZOVSKY. Thus, a commission specially created by the editorial board of Krasnaya Nov ʹrejected his novel and the editorial board sent me his work; indeed, Avdeenko himself did not give it to me. I read it carefully myself. When I read this work, I thought it was an unconscious mistake, I criticized it very sharply.
STALIN. Which book?
LOZOVSKY. ʺThe state is me.ʺ
STALIN. You spoke to him, the masked man.
LOZOVSKY. I thought that it could be corrected, but after the film ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ appeared, I see that this is not an unconscious mistake, it is a deliberate, not ours, someone elseʹs line, not a Soviet line, I am not talking about the fact that this is a non‐partisan line.
The following is interesting. 2‐3 months after I sharply criticized his work, he sent me a letter that characterizes him as a person, as a writer, and as a party member.
STALIN. Should there be any diplomacy?
LOZOVSKY. You will see for yourself.
He writes the following: it took 3 months for me to come to my senses after your remark on my novel ʺThe State is Meʺ. Now he is healthy, cold‐blooded, generous, happy. I thought about it for 3 months, the criticism was of great benefit. Of course, the novel will not be altered, not completed, it will be rewritten. Let the state be the goal of my life, anyway I will not refuse to work. Thatʹs all that I could answer to your attention to me.
Zhdanov. After he said disagree?
AVDEENKO. I said I agree.
LOZOVSKY. When I received an answer, I decided that the correspondence on this issue was over, because in essence I criticized him from the point of view of the party, literary, artistic and political, and he sends a reply, in which everything can then be turned anywhere. Thatʹs why it seems to me that it has consistency. This is not an accident with him. He has the same heroes, the same approach, the same assessment, pornography, a frivolous, non‐Soviet, non‐partisan attitude towards our Soviet life, towards our Soviet reality.
Zhdanov. Two years ago, in the summer of 1938, it was ʺThe State is
Meʺ, and now the ʺLaw of Lifeʺ.
ANDREEV. Under a different name.
LOZOVSKY. This is the same line, the same assessment.
Zhdanov. In 1936, there was criticism of ʺDestinyʺ. There he portrayed pests as strong people, and our people, as weak‐willed people, with rags.
LOZOVSKY. I talked with him for several hours, talked for a long time. I told him why I criticize him. And so, after 3 months, he sent this answer.
I think that Avdeenko does not have our worldview, not our line. The most characteristic is the attitude to what was published in Pravda. He pays no attention to the Central Organ, to the party. Your party is just like ours.
ANDREEV. This is not his party.
LOZOVSKY. When you do not pay attention to this, then you are not associated with the party. It doesnʹt bother you. This proves your weak connection, and most likely the absence of any connection with the party. Hence, both political mistakes and all sorts of others.
FADEEV. Of course, there should be no two opinions on the assessment of the essence of Avdeenkoʹs literary activity. I think everyone can see that there is some kind of consistency here. But I would like to dwell on how he could come to such a life. Indeed, in the work of our Union of Writers and not only the Union of Writers, but there are also shortcomings that contribute to the fact that some elements can sink, like Comrade Avdeenko, to such a position and can take a path that may make it easier to get there.
With Avdeenko, the following thing happened: he came as an illiterate person, came from the homeless.
STALIN. He is not working on himself.
FADEEV. With the help of an experienced writer, he could make a book about himself. Everyone knows the book ʺI Loveʺ. Alexey
Maksimovich drew attention to it and edited it. I personally don’t think it is correct to work with young writers to this day. Ultimately, you need to make them work.
FADEEV. Editing means making corrections, but the author himself has to work. Then, almost from the very first steps, he has a lot of conceit ‐ do not approach. All writers know about this. It is difficult to criticize him, he does not understand anything.
And I must say the following, that after the young writer published his first book, this is not only him, but also many others, he allows himself conceit and does not work, his life is easy.
LOZOVSKY, I wrote one book and quit working.
FADEEV. We pressed on with the ruble, in particular, I must say that money is bad in the Writersʹ Union, the literary fund replaces both the mutual assistance fund and social insurance. We are considered a democratic organization, we have a government, people are different, there is a lot of demagogy around young people, and a person, getting ‐ especially before ‐ a member of the Writersʹ Union, in fact, believed that he had the right to mutual assistance. Money is not highly valued, receiving an allowance of 300 rubles is not considered money. And we have a category that exists for 300 rubles, and a smaller category ‐ for 500 rubles.
Our Office for Determination of Copyright, a loud name, is engaged in a number of superfluous functions, which actually receives, and sometimes collects, and the writers themselves collect royalties that come from performances in theaters. A lot of money is being concentrated, which makes it possible to advance sometimes even an incompetent person, i.e., the person becomes impatient, but shouts: ʺI am a talent.ʺ
We, the Writers ʹUnion, the Presidium of the Writersʹ Union, are composed entirely of writers. We love literature and work of an ideological nature is much more pleasant for us. But the experience of two years shows that we cannot cope with this. The most important job is still limping and limping badly. We have now groped for something, but this does not justify us. We are missing a lot, because we are immersed in the work of the material, every day, administrative order. I must say that we have very little organizational experience, none of the writers, especially the masterʹs experience. Now every writer considers himself the salt of the earth. The writer needs to be accepted; you need to talk to him. This whole system, i.e., rest homes, it crushes us, discourages literary men. As a result of a number of such small questions, the taste for work is lost. It turns out to be a very bad situation.
STALIN. It is necessary that administrative functions be transferred not to literary men, but to people who know literature.
FADEEV. My personal point of view is this.
Zhdanov. Still, the direction of literature needed to be given more attention.
FADEEV. You cannot imagine how much this weighs on us. My opinion in this respect coincides with the opinion of the members of the Presidium. I think that we have a number of functions that should not lie with the Writersʹ Union. Take a question such as the distribution of vacation packages. Who distributes vouchers to holiday homes for himself? Themselves give each other mutual assistance. It seems to me that these issues need to be resolved. As a result of this situation, we missed a lot. We must confess to this. Our system must be adapted to work with young people. We have clubs, we have a club for art workers where you can get worn out, and some people are happy to do it. We have stages where people perform with pleasure.
Recently, the question of a party member B was discussed ........... At the meeting it turned out that he wrote only one hack all the time, although he was not a member of the Writersʹ Union. We have a lot of those who love where you can get worn out.
I do not understand such a communist, I would consider, for example, it is simply shameful for myself. He could work and be useful. It turns out that he is a member of the party organization, he has weight, he speaks, he criticizes and studies literature. Now our attention to this has become especially sharpened, and especially when the question is raised in this way in the whole state in connection with the new law. It is clear that the parasites are crushing us, who strive for an easy life.
We will be happy to study in the same club, get together, discuss works, we all love this, but we often do not.
LOZOVSKY. Why donʹt you?
FADEEV. Until now, this has not been given due attention. Absolutely correct.
STALIN. There are many parasites.
FADEEV. We need to create an atmosphere so that we can work with the people.
We did not discuss the issue at the presidium, but I talked with some comrades, they supported me in the idea that a number of functions should be taken away from us. Where, I canʹt say yet. Take this fact: I was in a writing holiday home and I must say that 80% of people I donʹt know by sight. Itʹs no good, itʹs rubbish. This needs to be translated somewhere, it is necessary to make it so that it is transferred to the state, and we ‐ the organization ‐ would engage in ideological and educational work.
LOZOVSKY. Have you read this work?
FADEEV. I have not read this work, I asked Avdeenko, he did not give it.
LOZOVSKY: I told Avdeenko: “You do not agree with me, no? Letʹs take it apart on the podium ”.
FADEEV. He did not give this piece; I did not see it. ʺThe law of lifeʺ ‐ passed by the union, but Pavlenko read it and gave a negative review.
LEBEDEV‐KUMACH. I am a young party member, and I got into the union in a somewhat unusual way, but I was received with a grain of salt and came to the presidium a little later than others. Alexander Alexandrovich spoke about the need to remove economic and administrative functions from us. This question is long overdue, I personally spoke about it in the party organization, comrade. Pospelov said, I said that something like a Committee on Literary Affairs is needed. In fact, it turned out ashamed that the Presidium of the Union of Soviet Writers is an all‐Union organization, which should lead the writers of not only Moscow, Leningrad and the RSFSR, but it turns out that, in essence, no one was in charge ideologically, there was no line in the union; often the big questions of life raised by the party and the whole country somehow passed us by. This must be said. Alexander Alexandrovich laughed at something, but apart from laughter, there are also many tears, I must say that we took this a little lightly. After all, there were such facts when the Central Committee of the Party, or higher party organizations indicate that we start conversations ‐ we all knew, made a slight mistake and will recover.
I did not like Alexander Aleksandrovichʹs speech a little because he took people indiscriminately, but I must say that there are a number of such people who work very honestly and loyally and do a lot of work that is necessary for the homeland and the party. You cannot take only the aristocratic elite and talk about it, and people who are engaged in literature, but do not write big things, like this aristocratic elite, should be considered indiscriminately rubbish. I must say that these people sometimes have the right sense of smell and they have the right approach to business, so you need to listen to them.
There was a resolution of the Central Committee concerning thick magazines. A year has passed. What is done? Have we done anything about this? Here is a place where you have to speak in spirit.
The question of patriotism. When there was an editorial in the Literaturnaya Gazeta about this, it was felt that the attitude in the union and in the presidium was such that a man spoke up and everything, there was even a little snobbish attitude.
Conversations about quality were conducted on the aesthetic plane and people completely forgot that there are two sides to quality. Take at least the same Avdeenko, he could, perhaps, write a wonderful thing, take at least the same Artsybashev, he wrote not badly, but we do not need such a quality. There were many mistakes because we were loaded with other things. I must say that being on duty at the presidium turned into an unnecessary waste of time. There was no feeling that I helped literature and a living person.
The meeting of the presidium is the same, they were faced with such questions ‐ whether to give a dacha, or not to give it, instead of raising big questions of principle. Never once was a big question of principle raised at the presidium.
The presidium did not say that there is a lack of collective farm plays in literature and drama. Or take these decrees now. After all, the Peopleʹs Commissariat of Justice works a lot, but we must also work to somehow help this cause, and we will not swing in any way. When there was a discussion at the party organization of these decrees, this discussion took place in such a way ‐ how much a writer should work and even such jokes were heard that a writer had to sit for 8 hours. This question could be posed much more seriously. Such a phenomenon as
Comrade. Avdeenko, I think this is our fault. We are entirely to blame for this, and now we need to revise, restructure the entire work of the union, so that all literary funds, dachas and other issues are taken away from us and so that we are engaged in an ideological issue, we would learn ourselves. In particular, I will say to myself that I do not have enough time, and here all sorts of loads of the anniversary order give. True, this is a necessary thing, it is of great importance, but you cannot emasculate and force a person into some anniversary committees if he cannot bring real benefit, and at best will be just a sign.
I believe that there is a lot of our fault in this matter. We need to look more at literature, read more, and for this we need time to have, we need to speak more boldly, signal more often, because because of this, as you pull the spine, you will pull out a big and interesting thing.
WAIT. Who else wants a word?
KATAEV. It seems to me that the story with Avdeenko brings us back to the question that I raised 2 years ago, i.e., the issue of quality, Vasily Ivanovich in vain wanted to present this most serious issue in such a way that in the union we do not pay enough attention to the small form. VOICE FROM THE PLACE. Quality is also needed there.
KATAEV. I realized that the point is that they do not engage in small form, that Fadeev repels a large number of talented people. Fadeev understated a little. The amount of ballast is monstrous, the amount of ballast we have is such that itʹs scary to think. I can cite a case when two young men came to us a year ago, they write some verses, and they did not want to be accepted into the union. And the question is, why should they be admitted to the union, because this is the Union of Soviet
Writers ‐ this is not a joke.
When we raise the question of form, style, when, as Comrade Stalin said, we want to mint a phrase, we are told that you are snobs and aesthetes. But this is wrong. This is where it leads. Avdeenko came to us, strangers minted him, and then he himself, with childish ease, took up such topics as enemies of the people. After all, everyone wants to write such a novel, but you need to open these people. This can be revealed even by being an intelligent person, but in addition, you need to have wonderful skill, you need to be a master to write such things.
Why do we have pest plays fail? We believe that it is necessary to immediately show the worthlessness of this person. If you take Gogolʹs ʺInspectorʺ, Khlestakov enters in Act 2 and it is immediately clear that this is not an inspector. As if the curtain should come down on that. But on the contrary, after this begins the discovery of this Khlestakov in all facets, in all his character traits. After all, you cannot make a person be good all the time, and then turn out to be bad. People open up in relationships with other people, and Avdeenko did not think about it, did not think about these forms, did not do the proper analysis. And when we get together and think deeply about all this, we argue about the last phrase, about the minting of all this, we are told that these are snobs sitting.
Comrade Zhdanov asked if cleaning was needed. What can be slowly cleaned. I donʹt know for sure, but there are about 3 thousand people throughout the Union.
ANDREEV. You want to either campaign or not get rid of anyone.
KATAEV. We want, but difficult. Maybe Iʹm exaggerating, fewer people.
STALIN. You need help. There are valuable people, and there are crumbs, but those who raise their head or tail high, I donʹt know, but we can draw a conclusion from this. It is necessary for the Presidium to more often take themes of a literary and artistic nature, of an ideological nature, and to involve people in the discussion of literary issues with specific examples. Here is a writer of such and such to make out, or a direction to develop such and such. To attract people to forge thought, forge tastes. Itʹs bad to be called a snob.
KATAEV. If we talk about how Flaubert builds the stage, we are already snobs.
STALIN. It would be better if we dealt with literary issues more often, looked out of necessity, attracted people and not only members of the Presidium, but others as well.
I think that from this ballast, but I do not agree that this ballast could be squeezed out of a large number of pretty good people, literary workers. Camel people gather in our party, raw, you look, you come to despair, then from these people you develop workers, the dullards during the strike turned into heroes. Itʹs the same with your ballast. Maybe they will be useful to you. They will come up and help you.
In my opinion so. You just have to work. We must give free rein to art. We need to let people speak. It is necessary to convince people who are wrong, if people are correctable. And there are people who are incorrigible, comrade Fadeev, in my opinion he is incorrigible. There are people who can be corrected, such people can be brought up, you just need to work on them and not look from high above. In my opinion, this comrade is right, a professional writer shows a kind of aristocracy ‐ to look at the roach from above. But we, too, were once roach.
FADEEV. It is characteristic that all do not grow from members of the union.
STALIN. Incorrigible, hopeless ‐ exclude.
FADEEV. Tvardovsky, Virta, Krymov, this year we are publishing Egorov in Krasnaya Novi. In my opinion, wonderful people. All these people outside the Writersʹ Union grew up from living life.
STALIN. This means nothing. Look at the roach from a high altitude, and no fish can live without roach, the fish uses the juices of the roach. About the fact that we do not have time to mark some and do not notice. For some reason, you do not celebrate an author like Wanda Vasilevskaya. She is not celebrated; however, she writes sparingly.
FALEEV. This is a real artist.
STALIN. I donʹt know if the artist is real or not, but I know that she writes truthfully, honestly. I read her three works ʺThe Image of the Dayʺ ‐ there the life of a worker is depicted truthfully, honestly, then ʺMotherlandʺ, it depicts the life of a farm laborer working in bondage for a landowner, wonderful, good, simply conveyed. ʺLand in a yokeʺ ‐ it depicts the life of a peasant ‐ the owner ‐ a poor man, a middle peasant and a farm laborer. Remarkably well rendered. For some reason they are silent about her. She is not a foreigner, she is a member of the Supreme Soviet, a deputy, a citizen of the Soviet Union, and she is still published in foreign literature. Why is our citizen not being celebrated?
FADEEV. As for the Literaturnaya Gazeta, it was readily published there.
STALIN. I say that this is not an ordinary talent, in my opinion she writes very well.
KATAEV. So, it seems to me that Comrade Stalin has exhaustively finished my speech. I just want to say that in the Writersʹ Union we must pursue a policy of liberation from unusual functions.
Zhdanov. Even with these functions, they could engage in literature.
FADEEV. It is very difficult.
LOZOVSKY. I was in a meeting, 9/10 of the time is spent on these functions.
STALIN. Is that why the writers donʹt come?
LOZOVSKY. And the manuscripts are not.
FADEEV. Manuscripts are carried only when they were not accepted or badly criticized, scolded. And bad production starts to tire.
KATAEV. I would like to end like this. On the basis of clearing our time, we could discuss more specific works in the club, now we discuss it 34 times a year, but we could discuss and convene conferences 10‐15 times a year.
STALIN. Right. In addition, it is very good and instructive to put individual novels for discussion, to acquaint people with different directions, to pose general questions.
KATAEV. And then we are crushed by such a moment when the writersʹ community gets a little disorganized, when they stop working with us, when they do not accurately inform us about the situation, and we begin to feel a little loose. It is necessary to publish, maybe in the general press, some articles, maybe of a directive nature, because sometimes you have to swim.
It seems to me that everything will go well and we, armed with technology, will be able to better arm our ideas and aspirations.
Zhdanov (presiding). I give the floor to Comrade Aseev.
ASEEV. Comrades, this is my first time in the Central Committee of the party and for the first time I am so a little worried, because this is my first time in the Central Committee, I want to say what is essential in my opinion in this matter.
The case with Comrade Avdeenko, it seems to me, is a very typical case both in the sense that he is so severely beaten and in the sense of where it came from. I’m not afraid to say, although I don’t know how this will be done, but I will still say that it leads to the hostile reputation that we sometimes have. Comrade Avdeenko will forgive me, but Iʹll tell you. We rested in Yalta two years ago. He told me that he wrote a wonderful piece. He said that the editor has not yet ruled, but the work is wonderful. Comrade Avdeenko hoped that after editing the editor, all responsibility would be removed from him. Relying on the fact that someone else will correct, that someone will support you ‐ this is the pursuit of fame. If a person once wrote something well, he was praised, then everywhere and everywhere they begin to praise him. There is no such position.
I will speak frankly. Comrade Stalin said that he liked the works of Wanda Vasilevskaya. I must say that it is very good that you liked the works of Wanda Vasilevskaya. Personally, I read and they did not affect me very much. Why am I talking? Because tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, Wanda Vasilevskaya will suddenly become the only standard literary achievement. It is one thing what Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin likes; another thing is the directive on how to write.
And this is often combined and there is a haircut for this writer. I rarely meet, but I must speak the truth. For a very long time Demyan Bedny sat and equated us with Demyan Bedny.
Iʹm not afraid of anything, I believe that everything here will be taken into account and weighed, but sometimes it turns out the way, how did Stalin say! Of course, this must be taken into account, but another matter, Iosif Vissarionovich likes such and such a work, such and such a picture, but this does not mean that doing a repetition, repeating this work, or a picture three hundred thousand times.
STALIN: Doesnʹt mean.
ASEEV. This is what I wanted to say.
STALIN. Iʹm talking about the fact that she is being hushed up, Wanda Vasilevskaya, and she is a talented writer. I donʹt think sheʹs the best, but I think sheʹs very talented. Maybe we will talk about her creative work, but she is hushed up.
ASEEV. For some reason, this story with Avdeenko is sad for me. To tell the truth, I feel sorry for him, and I would like to stand up for him, but here we will talk about rotten liberalism. Maybe he should be beaten like that, but he was given a review of the whole Union. What should he work on further? They said that from this roach, siblings, roach grew, sometimes rudd swam, but he was already called a whale from the very beginning. Where should he go on a long voyage? This is not good.
Comrade A. Fadeev, that they are overwhelmed with various side matters and this interferes with work, so the work is going wrong inside.
Iʹll let you quote:
ʺStalin talks about my poems at the Politburo.ʺ
This is what Mayakovsky dreamed of. We talk about literature for real, and the trouble with Avdeenko is that they talk about him now when there is nowhere to go. I would think that Avdeenko, for all his rudeness of the letter, and the hope that such and such an uncle will support him, correct, straighten his manuscript, is a lordly, whitehanded in writing, and after all, the first manuscript was corrected and released to him. And further, there is no way to write a story from which he himself would be happy, and he is already writing a script, an opera, I do not know if he wrote an opera, but they had to write an opera based on ʺI Loveʺ, i.e., it was necessary to serve different aspects of art. And he was already arrogant. Lozovsky? What he writes there, he is not a writer, but I am a writer, Gorky recognized me, but he did not, and Lozovsky has a greater culture than a recognized writer. Why does it work? Because at first a person was given all the possibilities: in the Donbass, he is the first person, he will come to any cinema, they open the doors to him, please, and they also say: why are you, comrade. Avdeenko, donʹt you write? And he still needs to write stories for a long time, and he was snapped up, he went to the market. He is not yet ripe, but he is already snapped up.
It seems to me that if Comrade Stalin says that they can get out of the roach, then Avdeenko had some fins.
STALIN. Heʹs not a roach, heʹs taller. I said in connection with the fact that the ballast is called aspiring writers. But beginners, at least most of them, cannot be called roach either. I must say that you are looking at them from top to bottom, but you have to work on them.
ASEEV: You may still not see everything here, Comrade Stalin, but we have a lot of this roach, which will never grow up, which has realized that it is possible to wash ashore anyway if they give up complementary foods. And this roach swims near the shore and swarms, and this makes it difficult to work in a union and due to this, disputes and petty squabbles begin.
SOBOLEV: I, Nikolai Nikolaevich, do not agree with you. The tragic story of Avdeenko, I must say frankly, is not that this man was overwhelmed, then they started to write an opera, but the fact is that in Avdeenko himself there are personal human qualities, on which everything bad and rotten fell like on good soil , which is associated with hasty literary activity,
I am not as old a writer as Fadeev, Aseev, but over the years I was amazed at how tragically the fate of people who suddenly find themselves in literature can turn out, I looked at Avdeenko for a long time, I was wondering how this plot could end, And I spoke correctly Aseev, that we are beginning to quickly give birth to names. Usually it turns out like this ‐ the person about whom they wrote on the pages of Pravda becomes, as it were, the center of attention. People come to him from provincial newspapers, from theaters, operas, and he starts to feel dizzy. I can cite a Kazakh proverb here, when one painter was praised, and he dyed his entire beard. We get such a picture that a person produces himself into classics. And this is where personal qualities are needed, firstly, he must resist this harmful influence, and secondly, we, our peopleʹs attention,
Take Wirth, for example. He worked for a provincial newspaper, wrote a good book and got a name on it. He, in my opinion, is not yet dizzy. He makes mistakes. I see that a person works, in my opinion, assiduously, and even a little funny. He reads things that we all have known for a long time. Our business, since we are in some way educators, are responsible for the state of literature, to remember this.
I had a case the other day. Last year I met a kid, unenviable looking: skinned, hungry.
He brought me several stories. 9 of his stories were very bad, 2 were excellent. I and my other comrades had to work with him. His career ended with the fact that he ended up in Butyrka prison, received 4 years for hooliganism.
As a writer, he began to grow, but as a person, he failed to educate himself. I warned him about this. There may be our mistake. It might need to be transplanted into a different environment.
Here, here Mikhail Nikolayevich made a remark: he died in the caviar itself. Also, Avdeenko ‐ he died in the caviar itself, and we are to blame for this.
Here, this is the main thing I wanted to say about the case with Avdeenko. You canʹt leave people.
Here, the writer Krymov appeared. He wrote a very good thing, but itʹs good that he wonʹt write another, itʹs good that he continues to work as an engineer, because the same story can be repeated with him.
Second, I recorded one of Avdeenkoʹs lines. It comes out somehow caricatured. He kept saying that he didnʹt want to show the enemy in black but wanted to show the enemy as if he were good.
The fact is that Avdeenko got confused in two schemes, and a scheme for literature is a destructive poison. He got confused in the scheme. One scheme: the enemy comes out and says Iʹm the enemy, Iʹm a son of a bitch. I will blow up the plant, I will do this, I will do something else. There is a second scheme: the enemy comes, and everyone prays to him, he is good, and at the end of the fifth act it turns out that he is a villain.
Avdeenko has neither talent, nor life experience, nor observation to understand that this is not the scheme.
The second remark: I was supported, they told me that it was good.
(AVDEENKO. Thatʹs right.)
It is wrong that you are a person who calls himself a writer who undertakes to write things so that the people can read, and the people do not have much time to read wastepaper.
You say that you were kept in Kiev, that you could not come and say how you feel about the review in Pravda. I am not a party member, you are a party member, you have your party card in your pocket, the central body writes that you made a mistake, and you do not react in any way. I don’t know how you can sleep at night, why you can’t come here and figure out what is the matter. I absolutely donʹt understand this. You have a name. The people know you, they know your books, and suddenly, the newspaper says that you made a mistake, how it was done, I do not understand?
I donʹt know what Avdeenko is, but in terms of literature, this is absolute coldness towards his profession. A real writer cannot have this.
But such a thing cannot be done. So, the concept ‐ a writer in relation to me in this case is also removed. We need to remember how to deal with such things.
About the scheme. The last conclusion for us, for the entire Union. It is difficult for me to speak now, because I have not thought of various things, but my comrades will help me. Sometimes they announce a high road, some method, some kind of trick, and suddenly they think that everything should be done like this. This is not true. Comrade Stalin said that a discussion should be held. Comrade Stalin said that there are different currents, letʹs collide these currents, find out what they want to do and we will talk.
STALIN. The artistic attitude is one, but it can be reflected in different ways, different method, approach and manner of writing, why not argue about it. There will never be a standard on these issues.
FADEEV. I spoke several times, struggling with this or that current, because they understand some ideal essence.
FADEEV. Letʹs talk about direction.
SOBOLEV: I will not talk about the work of the union; this is a complex issue. From my personal feeling, I just want to say that there are times when you say ‐ let me pee a little. Then when it goes away, you start to decide how many thousand to give, etc. It seems to me that we need to do so in order to do our literary work and then there will be no such cases as with Avdeenko, we will understand what is driving what.
FEDIN. I want to say three points. The first question is how it happened that Avdeenko occupied such, I would say, an honorable place in literature. Here are the quotes that were given in Comrade Lozovskyʹs review, they alone say that he simply could not occupy an honorable place, there was an oversight. It was impossible to raise a writer with such data so high. He was just a bad, worthless writer, he had to learn.
It was necessary to raise him to such a ʺheightʺ that he would not have the opportunity to be in art. The comrades here correctly said that we place low demands on the quality of literature. We think too little about it. It should also be noted that every second book is more difficult for a writer than the first, the third or fourth is more difficult than the previous one, the more a writer writes, the more difficult it is to write. We must drum this into our youth, this must be our motto.
Here Comrade Fadeev spoke correctly, it was only necessary to add that we pay a lot of attention to the so‐called graphomania. Let me draw your attention to the following. Each person on duty of the presidium writes down what he did during his duty so that everyone is aware of what he has done. If I could process this diary, which has accumulated over two years, then I assure you that the main questions from the diary would be the fight against graphomania. I assure you that it is. Graphomania cannot be immediately distinguished, there is a completely illiterate one, it is easier to fight it, but sometimes you will not immediately understand it.
Next question. When Comrade Avdeenko spoke, he said that when he was working on the screenplay, the cinema advised him to make the enemy more difficult so that he could not be solved. We really do have some kind of scheme regarding the villains. I also wrote a script for a movie; the topic was such that it was necessary to touch the enemy. I wrote about Kirov, and when I wrote the script, cinema also made a demand for me, they told me that my enemy was not smart enough, not complicated enough, it was necessary to give it more difficult.
It must be said that I am not such a young writer.
I know the complexity and the responsibility. It seems to me that there should not be a diagram here. This question will have to be resolved.
Zhdanov (presiding). I give the floor to Comrade Ivanov.
IVANOV. It is very insulting and sorry that one has to act here not as the author of a good and necessary one, but as one of the authors of a properly criticized and harmful film.
I made a huge mistake with the second director Stolper. The mistake of the scriptwriter Avdeenko could not be fully understood and corrected by us. True, the film was processed for a year.
We altered it several times and it is true that we felt that the scales were tilting in the wrong direction. Our desire was directed towards giving the right film, but apparently, we werenʹt hitting the main point. It is now quite clear.
We clearly see all the mistakes that we made. We wanted to show the enemy with all our might and turned it into an end in itself. I am deeply shocked. Seeing such people, hearing such people, I fully understand that we made a gross mistake. Only ignorance of life, inability to possess life can lead to such things. But, besides all this, our work was hampered by the fact that, as if they had nothing to do with cinema, they talk about literature. We had such a situation that they did not tell people the truth in the face, but, on the contrary, praised, hid the mistakes of a person.
LOZOVSKY. It is right.
Zhdanov. Mutual agreement. Donʹt criticize me, I wonʹt criticize you.
IVANOV. This is my first work on this film. It seems to me that I received a huge benefit, a huge lesson, I received a lesson that will teach me a lot. I believe that the story of this sad film will give us the opportunity to eliminate all our shortcomings in art.
What have I come to? I came to the conclusion that somehow it became easier for me; it became easier not because I am less guilty than Avdeenko, thatʹs not the point, but easier because I understood how I need to work, how to understand my role in general in art, in life. As a party member, first of all as a party member, I am doubly responsible for the mistakes that were made.
The last thing I want to finish, which is, of course, subjective, I wanted this film to be good. I myself am an old Komsomol member and on my first work I made such a mistake. Iʹm just offended. I want to roll up my sleeves to prove what it means to work. I will make every effort to show our young man with the colors that are really in nature, which are inherent in him.
Zhdanov (presiding). Comrade Stolper has the floor.
STOLPER. I wanted to write down what to say to me, but I could not. When I found out about the article, I was not in Moscow at that time. But it is quite understandable that after I learned about the article, I felt the seriousness of this matter. Naturally, this mistake was a disaster.
I must honestly say that I did not understand everything right away, if I understood immediately, I would become a bastard. It so happened that I was not in Moscow, I had to leave for 6 days and there was no time to think it over. I have to say that I was left alone with my conscience. I was looking, whatʹs the matter?
And every day, and every hour, I collected facts that I had to realize, and I realized them. How did it all work out?
I must say that Comrade Ivanov and I ‐ we do not work very much in this area, we recently graduated from the academy. I must say that life is very difficult for young directors. I must honestly admit that sometimes it happens that you are told put this thing, and you put it, otherwise you will not put it for a year or two. We have many young people who are eager to fight and cannot escape. We read Avdeenkoʹs script and there was a question of working on it at all costs. Together with Avdeenko, we began to rework the script. Then there was a second alteration in the directorʹs style, the script was drastically revised. It lasted 2‐3 months.
It seemed to us that we had corrected the mistakes that we had discovered, but we did not correct them, but swallowed, we sniffed at them. When we started shooting the picture, and I must say that we started shooting at a fire‐fighting pace, we still had doubts and we personally, on our own initiative, sent the script to the Central Committee of the Komsomol. After that, we received a letter from the Central Committee of the Komsomol, for which we were very grateful, and we again began to redo the script in every possible way.
It seemed to us that we fixed, in fact it turned out that we did not fix it. In the process of work it was very difficult to fix it, because the work is physically difficult, in the process of shooting you do not have the opportunity to think, because you have to shoot all the time and if you are a young director, it is even more difficult for you to shoot, and not only because bad leaders, but such system.
But we had to think about this scenario in the process of work, but we still sniffed and did not see everything.
When the article came out, some of my comrades told me that you took the exam for the director, there you can see the creative skill of yours and Ivanov, that you know how to build a mise‐en‐scene, but that did not console us. And the question before us was that as long as we do not creatively and completely confess our huge mistake, we have no right to work further. We talked a lot with Ivanov about this, we accept many mistakes, but not all, and they must be accepted absolutely and completely.
But what worries me now, I am worried about a thing that can happen by chance, or maybe not by chance, as a result of this vicious story. I know many people who today are afraid of things of the Soviet theme ‐ about youth, about students. Now a lot of people are just starting to scrupulously approach each shot, there is talk about what to do when the script comes across a shot that a person is drinking a glass of vodka.
I think that this is not what the article in Pravda taught us.
I personally would like to pose another question here.
In spite of our big mistake, we want to shoot things about youth again, because we are young directors, and we want to do things about youth again. And it will come out or not?
I think it should come out if we fully understand the gross mistakes we made and make the tape good.
I would like to pose the following question. I was jealous now when you criticized the Union of Soviet Writers, I was jealous of our writers, because you have a creative organization, it works, but we have no creative organization. It turned out by the will of fate that we, having made a picture, or a script, are stewing in our own juice. We cannot go to the podium and exchange views. We have a bad atmosphere in our factories. Over the years there has been such a law that if you say bad about me, then I will say bad and, therefore, it is better not to speak. And the worst thing is that we need to tell young directors. We often get it like this ‐ they shot a picture, and then it turns out that the masters knew about it but didnʹt want to talk so as not to upset. I believe that it is necessary to sharply raise the question of how we can cobble together an asset,
Zhdanov. I give the floor to Comrade Pogodin.
WEATHER. I didnʹt want to perform. But after a friend from the cinema, I want to say that this is not a particular example of Avdeenko, but it is about being responsible for what you do. And we have such phenomena and tendencies when it is not evaluated. When they talked about Avdeenko like that, we never talked about it like that at our presidium.
This is very important, because in cinema, and in general in related fields of art, things can come out so liberally, calmly, easily and irresponsibly.
What happened? I drew attention to one important thing that Avdeenko said, He said that Chernyavsky had summoned him, they discussed the peaceful appearance of a Soviet person. Think what happens? The topic is solved in the office. Write to us such and such an enemy, show us this way. Speaking seriously with responsibility is a caricature. They came and talked merrily. Avdeenko went to write, he says that he has some kind of concept. What concept I wanted to ask a question? That you lived in a student hostel, you are thinking of solving the question of the figure, the image that millions will look at. I know how to do it. This is hack.
Here they said that no one helped. Has anyone checked? No, we didnʹt want to check. What Avdeenko wrote was accepted. What is a relationship for cinema? I’m just saying, I painted two pictures and I can’t work in films anymore.
We see that the directorʹs team, not all of it, of course, but mostly ‐ these are people cut off from life, people who work in factories, shoot pictures. When you come to them, the question is solved from the formal side, how to show the hero, and to what extent he is connected with reality, how he truly reflects it ‐ this is a secondary question.
To understand this, Iʹll give my own example. I painted a picture, is it bad, well, I don’t know ʺThe Man with the Gunʺ. It was banned for a year. A conversation with a consultant who is still working, probably he is not an enemy of the people, but with great conceit, I was just ridiculous. How did he advise showing Comrade Stalin? This is not just a mockery, this is a stupid person, a fool. He says ‐ you wrote a caricature of the October Revolution, why? He says so because he has a certain scheme. I wrote the script for about a year. I spent a lot of time studying the material, but they approached me with armchair fictions, with these concepts that exist when you read a thematic plan of cinematography. He makes a miserable impression, he is poor. Here, a certain number of solved topics is taken, and not what reality gives.
And from here it turns out this ‐ you need to make a picture not for the people, not for millions of people, but for those officials who will accept the picture in the Committee for Arts. And naturally, since the production itself from script to picture is not verified by reality, then such a thing turns out. But it is strange, a mistake can be made, a young director can shoot a bad picture, but to shoot a picture that radically distorts reality ‐ this is just a false picture. Itʹs all invented.
And the last thing that I want to say and solve is a very important matter, everyone was talking about it ‐ in our literature it is easy to enter and live easily, it is very easy to earn daily bread. If you have your head on your shoulders, you can take it. These laudatory reviews, all this pomp make people unrecognizable, awarded, wealthy, and they conceive a novel of 70‐100 printed pages, write 3‐4 plays, send them to theaters and everything tends to the fact that they are not responsible for their work and then they have to pay off.
STALIN. ‐ There are various issues here, these issues are of great importance for the development of literature. I want to say on a question that has nothing to do with Avdeenkoʹs book ‐ about the approach to literature. There is a truthful, objective approach to literature. Does this truthful and objective approach mean that it can and should be impartial, just draw, photograph? Is it possible to equate a living person, a writer who wants to be truthful and objective, can he be equated with a photographic apparatus? No way.
This means that truthfulness, objectivity should not be dispassionate, but alive. This is a living person, he sympathizes with someone, dislikes someone from his heroes. Hence, truthfulness and objectivity are truthfulness and objectivity, which serves some class. Plekhanov said that literature cannot come out tendentious, and when he deciphered this, it appears that literature must serve some conditions, some class, some society. Therefore, literature cannot be some kind of photographic apparatus. This is not how truthfulness should be understood. There can be no literature without passion, it sympathizes with someone, hates someone. I believe that from this point of view, we must approach the assessment of literature ‐ from the point of view of truthfulness and objectivity. It is required that the works give us the enemy in all its most important form. Is this right or wrong? Wrong. There are different ways of writing ‐ the style of Gogol or Shakespeare. They have outstanding heroes ‐ negative and positive. When you read Shakespeare or Gogol, or Griboyedov, you find one hero with negative traits. All negative traits are concentrated in one person. I would prefer another style of writing ‐ the style of Chekhov, who has no heroes, but gray people, but reflects the mainstream of life. This is a different way of writing. but reflecting the mainstream of life.
I would prefer that we were given enemies not as monsters, but as people hostile to our society, but not devoid of some human traits. The very last scoundrel has human traits, he loves someone, respects someone, wants to sacrifice for someone. He has some human traits. I would suggest that you give enemies in this form, strong enemies. What would be a plus when we were making noise, there was a class struggle, between capitalism and socialism, and suddenly the little one was smashed. And the enemies made a lot of noise, they were not so weak. Werenʹt there strong people. Why not portray Bukharin, no matter how monster he is, but he has some human features? Trotsky is an enemy, but he is a capable man, no doubt, to portray him as an enemy with negative traits, but also having good qualities, because he had them, no doubt.
The point is not at all that Avdeenko portrays enemies decently, but the point is that he leaves our brother in the shadows. We need truthfulness that depicts the enemy fully not only with negative traits, but also positive traits, which were, for example, persistence, consistency, courage to go against society. These features are attractive, why not portray them. The point is not that Comrade. Avdeenko gives enemies in a decent light, but the fact that the winners, who defeated the enemies, led the country behind them, he leaves aside, he lacks colors. Thatʹs the problem. Here is the main bias and untruthfulness.
There has been a lot of talk here about not indulging young novice writers, not pushing them forward early, because this makes people dizzy and deteriorate. This, of course, is true, but one should not advise any kind of guild in professional literature.
So, they looked: a student may be capable, but a deadline is set here. The apprentice may be three heads taller than the master, but once the deadline is set, he must work it out. Then he will be given a slap in the face and initiated into the master. Well, dear comrades, you are preaching such a philosophy. And if among the young there were people who, in talent and gift, are not worse than some old writers, why would you marinate them. So, you cripple capable people who are gifted by God, who want to grow. You have to grow them, you need to look after them, look after them, like a gardener looks after plants. We need to help them; we need to break this guild. We must put an end to these guild traditions, otherwise it will never be possible to nominate people. Take the best commander of our country, Suvorov, he is a monarchist, there was a feudal lord, a nobleman, a count himself, but practice prompted him, that some foundations need to be broken and he promoted people who distinguished themselves in battles. And only as a result of this, he created a group around himself that broke everything. He was disliked because he violated the traditions of the guild. Here he is not a very capable commander, but excuse me, he has such a surname, such connections in the courtyard, so sweet, how can you not love him. And he moved little‐known people, broke the foundations of the guild. They did not like him for this, however, he created around himself a group of capable people, good generals. The same if you take Lenin. How did Lenin forge cadres? If he saw only those who spent 10‐15 years in the party environment in leadership work and so on. and did not notice those young people who grow like mushrooms, but they are capable people, if he did not notice this and did not break the traditions of experience, he would have disappeared. Literature, the party, the army ‐ everything is an organism, in which some cells need to be renewed, without waiting for the old ones to die off. If we wait until the old ones die and only then will we update, we will be lost, I assure you. I agree with these amendments regarding the promotion of young people, but people cannot be limited, kept in a pen. This remark is about the roach that has been spoken of here in the thousands. After all, there are few old ones. Of course, it is good to have old writers, this is a find, a treasure, but there are few of them. And in our party, we also have old people who never grow old in soul, who are able to perceive everything young, there are few such old people. If only on them you build a literary front, only on old people who never grow old, there are old people who do not grow old, then our army will be very small, and it will not live long, because the old cadres, they will still die ... Hence the question of aspiring writers. Here they talked about roach, about several thousand, we also have middle peasants in the party who are unknown to anyone, the Central Committee is more or less known, so far, they have not stood out at all, but capable. There are such people, you have to deal with them, work with them, and they usually make good workers. We were all average people, we were corrected one, another time, where necessary, and good workers grew out of the roach. We have a lot of roach, so we should not forget it, we must work with this roach, and not say that they are for color. You canʹt do that, itʹs very offensive. There must be patient work to educate these people, to select them. If out of 20 people there is one, thatʹs good, then you will have a whole army of writers. Our country is large, and you need to have quite a lot of writers. If a person is a talented, capable person, he must be lifted, helped to go up, maybe even in violation of the charter. Sometimes nothing comes out without violations.
About Wanda Vasilevskaya. Why does she like the letter?
She has in her works gray, simple people, inconspicuous figures, but they are well displayed in everyday life, they are cleverly and well chosen. I don’t think she’s the most outstanding writer, but she’s quite talented and writes very well, in my opinion, but for some reason she is hushed up. She herself does not climb anywhere. You read her works; you will see that this is a talented person. We have many talented people who are famous. Take Panferov, for example. He has good places, but in general a person can write when he is working on himself, this Panferov is famous, and I assure you that Wanda Vasilevskaya, she could become taller than Panferov, and no one deals with her, she is considered a foreigner, and she is a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Union.
Now about Comrade Avdeenko. You see, I have already said that the point is not that he has (made) mistakes, not that he conveys the types of enemies or friends of our enemies in the most decent form, not as monsters, but as people who have some good features. and without them there is not a single person. The very last scoundrel, if you look closely at him, has good features. He can lay his head for a good friend, which means not that he portrays our enemies well, but the fact that the people who exposed these enemies are shown not by Soviet people. It is not so easy to do it. In our country, for example, 25‐30 million people were starving, there was not enough bread, but now they began to live well. Here the enemies within the party figured this way ‐ we will give it to the Germans, this to the Japanese, there will be enough land for our century, but we have turned the other way around, we are not giving anything to anyone, but on the contrary, expanding the front of socialism. Is it bad? Is it bad from the point of view of the balance of power struggle in the world? We are expanding the front of socialist construction, this is favorable for humanity, because Lithuanians, Western Belarusians, Bessarabians consider themselves happy, whom we have delivered from the oppression of landowners, capitalists, policemen and all other bastards. This is from the point of view of the peoples. And from the point of view of the struggle of forces on a world scale between socialism and capitalism, this is a big plus, because we are expanding the front of socialism and reducing the front of capitalism. policemen and all sorts of other bastards. This is from the point of view of the peoples. And from the point of view of the struggle of forces on a world scale between socialism and capitalism, this is a big plus, because we are expanding the front of socialism and reducing the front of capitalism. policemen and all sorts of other bastards. This is from the point of view of the peoples. And from the point of view of the struggle of forces on a world scale between socialism and capitalism, this is a big plus, because we are expanding the front of socialism and reducing the front of capitalism.
Avdeenko has people who have to fight, they are shown as some kind of creepy, simple, grayish, how these people could defeat enemies. The whole sin of Avdeenko is that he leaves our brother ‐ a Bolshevik ‐ in the shadows and for him Avdeenko lacks color.
He looked so closely at the enemies, got to know them so well that he can portray even from the point of view of negative and positive. I havenʹt looked closely at our reality, itʹs hard to believe. I didnʹt understand, didnʹt notice.
Here is about the same picture ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ. Why Zakon didn’t explain. What do you want? Here, you, gentlemen, Bolsheviks, whatever you interpret, but there is a law of life, love is the way I understand it, and it will take its toll, because there is a law of life. To say this to the end, he did not have the spirit, but love, who knows how to think, understands what it is. Ognerubov ‐ well done, an eagle, fell victim to stupidity, the crowd. Took voted. Does it happen like that? The heroes fall. Brilliant people find themselves in a limited environment. The environment of our creepers and heroes who fell victim to. Directly some Chatsky who was strangled by
Wednesday. There is not enough color to portray our people. And here he sins against serving some cause. One feels that he is so sympathetic, so he does not sympathize. I would like to know which of his heroes he sympathizes with. In any case, not to the Bolsheviks. Why does he have otherwise, there was not enough color to show real people, where did the Chkalovs and Gromovs come from? Where did they come from, because they do not fall from the sky? After all, there is an environment that gives heroes. Why is there not enough paint to show good people? Why are there no paints to show bad features? There are not enough colors to arrange a new life, why are there no colors for the image of life? Because he doesnʹt sympathize with it. You will say that I am exaggerating. I would like to be wrong, but in my opinion, he hardly sympathizes with the Bolsheviks. to arrange a new life, why are there no colors for the image of life? Because he doesnʹt sympathize with it.
Take 1934. After all, he was being corrected. Everything is the same.
Then in 1938. Corrected, indicated. He does his own thing anyway. This camp lives with him, our camp is somewhere in the shadows.
I, he says, of proletarian origin. Don Juan does not come out of the golden youth. Don Juan was ....... Where is this persistence.
There is a painting ʺThe Law of Lifeʺ. The same goes for a lot of colors. Where is it from? Is this a mistake? No, not a mistake.
A self‐confident person, he writes the laws of life for people, ‐ almost a monopoly education of young people. The laws. This is the mistake since 1934. If he had not been warned, not corrected, that would have been a different matter, but there were warnings from the Central Committee and a review in Pravda, and he continues his work. To get into the soul is not my business, but I donʹt want to be naive either. I think that he is a man of enemy outrage ‐ Sarkisov, Kabakov, ‐ and he echoes with the enemies: ‐ I live among fools, they will still miss my works, they will not notice, I will get money, but whoever needs it, he will understand, and fools ‐ the devil is with them, let them be fools and remain.
Zhdanov. Letʹs finish, maybe on this?
VOICE. Yes, letʹs finish ...
Zhdanov. Let me end it then.