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Emancipation by the Axe? Peasant Revolts in Russian Thought and Literature

John Keep
Cahiers du Monde russe et soviétique
Vol. 23, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1982), pp. 45-61
Published by: EHESS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20169944
Page Count: 17
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Emancipation by the Axe? Peasant Revolts in Russian Thought and Literature
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Abstract

Contrary to widespread opinion, a continuous thread runs from the 17th- and 18th-century Russian peasant revolts to the agrarian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, manifested in the survival of social utopian myths. The Razin legendary cycle, distorting Christian teaching, presents the "liberator" as an avenging apostle. Russian writers from Pushkin onward, and later social theorists, took up the theme of agrarian violence but were shocked by the brutal events of 1917-1918. Early Soviet writers (e.g. L. Leonov) offered a critical portrait of the peasant revolutionaries, but subsequently this theme has been neglected. A comparison of two novels on the Razin revolt (A. P. Chapygin, 1927; S. Zlobin, 1951) illustrates changes in the official ideology and Soviet literary taste; popular mythology is today manipulated for mundane political ends. /// Contrairement à une opinion largement répandue, un fil continu relie les révoltes paysannes des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles aux révolutions agraires de 1905 et de 1917. Il apparaît dans la survivance des mythes de l'utopie sociale. Le cycle des légendes sur Sten'ka Razin, déformant la doctrine chrétienne, présente le "libérateur" comme un apôtre vengeur. Les écrivains russes depuis Puškin et, plus tard, les théoriciens sociaux ont repris le thème de la violence agraire et ont été choqués par la brutalité des événements de 1917-1918. Au début de la période soviétique, des écrivains (comme L. Leonov) tracèrent un portrait critique des révolutionnaires paysans, mais par la suite ce thème a été laissé de côté. Une comparaison entre deux romans consacrés à la révolte de Razin (A. P. Čapygin, 1927; S. Zlobin, 1951) illustre les changements survenus dans l'idéologie officielle et le goût littéraire en URSS; le mythe populaire est manipulé de nos jours à des fins politiques terrestres.

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