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XIX Congress of the CPSU (b) - (October 5-14, 1952). Documents and Materials
October 6, (Evening meeting)
Presiding D.S. Korotchenko.
The meeting continued the discussion of the reports of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and the Central Auditing Commission of the CPSU (b).
A.A. Fadeev, (Moscow)
Comrades! In the great and noble cause of educating and re‐educating people in the spirit of communism, Soviet fiction may, should and will be the assistant to the Party.
To what extent is she ready today to fulfill the great new tasks that have come before her? Its successes are well known. They especially affected the post‐war years and were conditioned by the general advance of our socialist economy, the growth of material well‐being and a significant rise in the cultural level of the Soviet people. But even under these favorable conditions, Soviet literature would not have achieved certain successes if our party in historical documents on ideological issues, the first of which was the decree of the Central Committee of the party on the magazines ʺZvezdaʺ and ʺLeningradʺ, did not show Soviet literature the right path of development ... After these decisions, the leading influence of all‐Party organizations on the development of Soviet literature and art increased.
The Central Committee of the Party, Comrade Stalin, rightly demand from us, Soviet writers, that we study more in an ideological and artistic sense, generously encourage our successes, patiently point out to us our mistakes, do everything to arm us politically, to help organizationally.
The great significance of the Partyʹs guidelines in the field of literature and art was reflected, in particular, in the fact that they helped to deal a crushing blow to the manifestations of rootless cosmopolitanism and servility towards modern bourgeois pseudo‐culture, which took place among a certain part of our artistic, and not only artistic, intelligentsia. in all and every manifestation of bourgeois nationalism, in formalistic influences, in thoughtless, unprincipled crawling on the surface of life, in its backyards.
The party inspired literature with the most advanced ideas of the century ‐ the great ideas of communism and placed the Soviet man in the center of attention, building a new society. The party united into one family a multinational detachment of our Soviet literature, where each nationality brings the color of its national form, linked the great goals of our art with the most advanced, highest traditions in national literature, primarily in the literature of the Russian people, throughout the centuries‐old artistic development of mankind and showed the path of boundless improvement and innovation along the path of socialist realism. Soviet literature owes all the best that it has created to these inspiring instructions from the Party.
The world‐historical significance of our literary work is confirmed by the successes in the development of fiction in the countries of peopleʹs democracy, great Peopleʹs China. For the literature of these countries, our experience serves as an example and often a model. Relying on the best, the highest in their national traditions, these literatures are increasingly boldly overcoming diverse bourgeois influences, throwing off the formalistic trinkets with which contemporary bourgeois art covers up its bestial, antihuman essence. These literatures confidently take the road of realism, the road of revolutionary‐democratic and socialist literature.
The experience of our literature also serves as an example and often a model for progressive writers in the capitalist countries ‐ in Western Europe and the American continent. Now it is they ‐ these progressive writers ‐ who express the national interests of their peoples, expose the warmongers and oppressors of the working people, and sing the praises of the best sons of their peoples. Our friends in Western Europe and America are carrying on this noble work, in spite of the malicious howl of the literary slaves of imperialism, in spite of the misunderstanding, hesitation, and doubts of that part of the intelligentsia that cannot yet overcome the views and habits that have been instilled in it. Reactionary bourgeois governments trample on the progressive national literature of their countries, try to prevent progressive literature from reaching the people, but helpfully give way to American ʺreading matter.ʺ
We want to tell all our friends and brothers in the West and in America that our great Soviet people highly value their ideological and artistic achievements. In our country, we willingly and lovingly translate the works of writers from the Peopleʹs Democracies and Peopleʹs China, progressive writers from the capitalist countries, and we will translate them more and more. On the initiative of Comrade Stalin, the best of these writers are awarded the Stalin Peace Prizes and the Stalin Prizes for outstanding achievements in the field of literature and art. We are proud that the Russian language has become the language in which all honest writers of the world can now receive a worldwide platform and a fair assessment of their work. (Applause.)
In the light of this world‐historical significance of our literary work, the shortcomings of our fiction, which Comrade Malenkov rightly spoke about in his remarkable report, become even more prominent and unacceptable. As I already happened to say at the Moscow regional party conference, now the old Russian proverb turned out to be inapplicable: ʺSoon the fairy tale will tell, but it will not be done soon.ʺ The work is being done in the country at an unheard‐of pace, and the fairy tale through the fault of the writers is lagging behind (laughter), lagging behind in front of the entire people.
This lag is especially pronounced in such areas of art as cinema, theater, and opera. The lack of good scripts, plays, and librettos greatly inhibits the development of these areas of art. Dramatic art, works for theater and cinema is one of the most difficult types of literature. And it is no coincidence that it was in these areas that some of the general weaknesses of Soviet literature were most pronounced. Comrade Malenkov was absolutely right that in showing the struggle of the new, the progressive against the old, the obsolete, Soviet literature does not always deeply, fearlessly and truthfully expose the contradictions, difficulties and shortcomings of our victorious movement forward. But without showing the struggle of contradictions, without conflicts, there can be no drama or comedy.
To cover up and justify this weakness of Soviet literature, and most likely to divert Soviet literature from exposing the enemies of our cause inside the country ‐ thieves, careerists, sycophants, bureaucrats, deceivers, individualists and money‐grub bingers of all stripes ‐ among some of our writers, critics the false theory has gone for a walk that in the drama of our country, where everything, so to speak, is going for the better, there can be no conflicts and this is, they say, the new thing that distinguishes Soviet drama from old drama.
We in the Writersʹ Union did not understand all the harm of this theory and did not fight it back in time. Meanwhile, this false theory took root among a number of workers in publishing houses and magazines, theaters, the Ministry of Cinematography, the Committee for Arts, the Writersʹ Union, and thus had a detrimental effect on the development of our literature, especially all types of drama.
It took the intervention of Comrade Stalin for this theory to be exposed in the press and in the Writersʹ Union. But, unfortunately, not all conclusions from the party criticism of this false theory have been drawn to the end. Due to our fault, the essence of the issue has not been explained to the writers deeply enough. This, in fact, explains that, although a certain turning point has been outlined, although two to three dozen generally useful plays and scripts have been created, which have already been prepared for staging on stage or are being filmed, there are still a few outstanding works. In the report of Comrade Malenkov, this shortcoming in our literature was once again revealed with great depth, and this will help us to advance Soviet drama and film drama more successfully.
Of tremendous importance for all Soviet art is the thesis developed in Comrade Malenkovʹs report on typical phenomena and characters in our reality and on the weakness of depicting this typical in our literature. Yes, the weakness in the portrayal of typical characters is perhaps the main weakness of Soviet literature. This has a particularly detrimental effect on drama, for life contradictions must be expressed in drama and comedy as a struggle of characters. A writer who does not know how to show our people with all his might is afraid to show with all his strength people who are hostile or lagging behind. This, in particular, explains the weaknesses of our satire. Writing in literature full‐blooded characters, types of people, advanced and backward ‐ this enormous political task is at the same time the highest artistic task. Solving it is a matter of honor for Soviet writers.
The serious shortcomings mentioned above, often multiplied by careless work, a disregard for studies and artistic skills of some Soviet writers, are explained by the low level of work on the ideological and artistic education of writers, and above all in the Writersʹ Union itself.
In recent years, with the help of the Party and the Soviet public, dozens and hundreds of writers of the young and older generations have turned their faces to life, to the present. But it cannot be said that we have already succeeded in turning the entire multinational contingent of Soviet writers and critics to the study of modern life. Many writers do not study life deeply enough or do not fully understand what they see. There are few people among us who really deeply, systematically and seriously would engage in Marxist‐Leninist studies in order to correctly reflect life, with a genuine understanding of the laws of its development. There are few writers with comprehensive knowledge, and we have the right to demand this from the writers of the Soviet country. Poorly armed with theoretical and general knowledge and leading cadres of the Writersʹ Union both in Moscow and in the field. The need for training cadres, which Comrade Malenkov spoke about, applies to a large extent to the cadres of the Writersʹ Union. This shortcoming explains why we have not been able to deeply apply in literature, in the development of the language of literature, the brilliant work of Comrade Stalin ʺMarxism and Questions of Linguistics.ʺ
To be honest, remnants of groupism, nepotism and friendship among writers and artists still have a great influence on the assessment of the phenomena of literature and art. At the same time, Soviet writers and artists for the most part have accumulated great ideological and artistic experience. It is necessary to listen more attentively to their voice, to their assessment of the phenomena of art. Criticism of works of literature and art and the activities of all our organizations from below by the workers of art and literature themselves is a very important, very essential aspect of the criticism to which the Party and the people are subjecting us. Raising criticism from below, in organizations of writers and artists, is a matter of honor for the leaders of creative organizations.
It would be a big mistake to think that one Writersʹ Union can cope with the task of ideological and artistic education of writers. This task requires from all party organizations, from our entire Soviet press, from all bodies in charge of various fields of art, firstly, to increase the exactingness of literature and art and consistency in these requirements, and, secondly, to help writersʹ organizations in their work. on the ideological and artistic education of writers.
It is not surprising that the Ministry of Cinematography, partly the Committee for the Arts and the Writersʹ Union criticize each other. They are now tied with one string in a common business, which is not going well for now. (Laugh ). Meanwhile, all these organizations are to blame for the fact that they manage creative work from above, in a bureaucratic manner, and work separately. They do not see their joint responsibilities for the ideological and artistic education of scriptwriters and playwrights, they do not encourage the initiative of the creative community of theaters, film studios and writers coming from below, from the writers and artists themselves. But living art can only develop in this creative way if you skillfully manage this process.
Among the local party leaders there are those who remember literature and art only when it comes to awarding Stalin prizes or in connection with party conferences at which, willy‐nilly, some phenomena have to be praised and others scolded.
We must also remember that the education of talented people begins at school. It is necessary that in connection with the study of literature at school, aesthetic tastes and artistic knowledge are brought up among all young people. And for this it is necessary to correct a lot in the methods of teaching literature at school and, above all, in our pedagogical universities. We have many wonderful teachers who love literature and know how to teach it. It is impossible, however, that literature, as is often the case, is viewed in our schools and pedagogical universities only as an illustration to history or to one or another sociological position, without any hint that literature is beautiful. We have many writers, young and talented, for whose artistic weaknesses the school is still to blame.
Thus, the task of the ideological and artistic education of writers is a task of the whole Party, of the whole people.
Comrades! The criticism of the work of writers and their organizations, which is now increasingly heard in our address, reflects the demands of the people for our literature. We perceive the direct, truthful, inspired criticism that was voiced from this rostrum in Comrade Malenkovʹs report as a new expression of the Partyʹs assistance to the development of literature, as a program of our work, and we will make every effort to improve the state of affairs.
We Soviet writers are happy and proud to be led by such a party as our great Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the party of Lenin and Stalin. We are grateful to Comrade Stalin for his help and science, and we assure him that we will devote all the strength of our soul to the creation of literature of a new, communist world, literature that would be a beacon for our free peoples and for all peoples of the earth. (Prolonged applause.)