Just days before the October 1917 Revolution, the Proletkult was formed in Petrograd to serve as an umbrella organization for numerous burgeoning working-class cultural groups. Advocates of the Proletkult hoped to devise new forms of art, education, and social relations that would express the spirit of the class that had come to power in the world's first successful proletarian revolution. Lynn Mally offers a detailed analysis of the Proletkult's cultural and political agenda. Drawing extensively on archival sources, she argues that the creation of a new culture proved as difficult and controversial as the creation of new notions of politics. From the outset, the Proletkult was divided by severe political and social tensions as members struggled to define the role of the organization and the cultural desires of the proletariat. What fused this divided movement was the shared belief that without radical cultural change the revolution would not succeed. The Proletkult's eventual decline graphically shows how political consolidation, institutional rivalries, and the devastating social consequences of the revolution and Civil War all worked together to limit the utopian potential of the October Revolution. This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1990.
"Mally's book moves the study of an important revolutionary cultural experiment from the realm of selective textual analysis to wide-ranging social and institutional history. It reveals vividly the social-cultural tensions and values inherent in the Russian revolutionary period, and adds authoritatively to the rapidly emerging literature on cultural revolution in Russia and in the modern world at large."—Richard Stites, Georgetown University