Literature as “a Little Bridge”: Exchange Between British and Soviet Writers in the Post-War Period
Literature as “a Little Bridge”: Exchange Between British and Soviet Writers in the Post-War Period
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The article is dedicated to the history of contacts between the British and Soviet writers in 1945—1956. The major thrust is put on activities of the Writers’ Group in the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR and especially on the figure of its leader — the British novelist and scriptwriter John Boynton Priestley. On the basis of new documents from the archive of the Society for Cooperation in Russian and Soviet Studies (London) the author analyzes both the inner discussions between the critics and defenders of contacts with Soviet writers during the most severe years of the Cold War and the outer contacts with Soviet counteractors threw the system of VOKS in the USSR (the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries), paying special attention to the so-called “questionnaires” which became one of the major forms of interactions between the two sides. The central issue during these interactions was the issue of a writer’s role in the post-war society. The author comes to a conclusion that despite of the obvious formal restrictions in the existed contacts and the Aesopian language of Soviet answers, the activities of the Writers’ Group one can consider to be successful. The irony of fate was that it just failed to wait a little bit till the beginning of the “thaw period” in the USSR and disbanded itself in the middle of 1950s.