Lecture "Writing Under Putin: Russian Literature Today"
Mon, April 14, 2008 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM • Chicano Culture Room, Texas Union 4.206
"The border between Soviet and contemporary Russian literature does not run across time, but rather, along it. It runs across everyone who calls himself a writer. In the olden days, they either saved their souls and wrote without hope of honorariums and publications, or else they consciously sold their souls to the devil and wrote what the regime demanded of them and in return received prizes and decorations. Those talented people who tried to balance on the edge of what was allowed by the censorship, that is, to sell their soul just a little bit, in the end paid with their talent. It was cruel, but the rules of the games were clear. Now, there is the temptation of best sellers. It turns out that contemporary writer's dependence on the size of their print runs is no less destructive for real literature than depending on the regime's approval used to be. In order to have a large number of readers, the writer constantly needs to lower the bar. Talented people in Russia who write books and TV screenplays entered into a tacit agreement that the lower the bar, the more readers, viewers, and money they will have."