Russian & American Fiction: Two Ideals

Cowley, Malcolm
June 1954
New Republic;6/14/54, Vol. 130 Issue 24, p21
This article presents information on several Russian and American fiction books. There is a general literary movement, that seems to be dominant everywhere in Western literature: it is a movement from sociology to psychology, from political to personal problems, in a word, from the public to the private. There are substantial rewards and punishments for Russian writers. Those who follow instructions earn a great deal of money--often more than they can spend--and occupy a more privileged social position than their colleagues in the West. Here the parallel ends. If the American novelist refuses the subject or the plot, if he prefers to deal with more personal themes, he has other avenues of publication. The Russian doctrine resembles naturalism in holding that the novelist can deliberately choose a subject for treatment, almost without respect to his past experience, but it goes a step farther by holding that the subject can also be chosen for the novelist by the workers' party or by the state.


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