Lunacharsky on literature and art
On Literature and Art by Leon TrotskyOne of the outstanding revolutionary leaders of the 20th century discusses questions of literature, art, and culture in a period of capitalist decline and working-class struggle. In these writings, Trotsky examines the place and aesthetic autonomy of art and artistic expression in the struggle for a new, socialist society.
Trotsky demonstrated a keen insight and a penetrating analysis of literature (Russian and foreign) and society.-Choice
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Lenin, with his works and personal influence, played a most important part in helping Lunacharsky to correct his ideological errors and misconceptions. The last outstanding critic of Russian pre-revolutionary culture, and the first brilliant critic of socialist culture, Lunacharsky lived at a time when the art of the old Russian society was already history and that of a new world was being born. As a critic, Lunacharsky seemed to link these two cultural worlds. Lunacharsky left behind a truly splendid heritage. Lunacharsky wrote about fifteen hundred articles on various questions of classical and contemporary literature, painting, music and sculpture. He wrote a series of lectures on the history of Russian and West European literature, works on literary and aesthetical problems, papers on the most important problems of contemporary art and politics, brilliant essays dedicated to almost every celebrated artist the world has known. The book consists of three parts, in which Lunacharsky is shown as theoretician and ideologist, as a critic of Russian art, and as a critic of foreign art.
His mother was then married to statesman Vasily Lunacharsky, whence Anatoly's surname and patronym. She later divorced Vasily Lunacharsky and married Antonov, but Anatoly kept his former name. From , he studied at the University of Zurich under Richard Avenarius for two years without taking a degree. In , Luncharsky returned to Russia, where he was arrested and sent to Kaluga in Siberia through —, when he returned to Kiev. In February , he moved in with Alexander Bogdanov , who was working in a mental hospital in Vologda , Russia.
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From his correspondence, memoirs, diary and all the abundant material we have at our disposal, it is perhaps not difficult to extract his characteristics as a person; but, as yet, such material has been used extremely meagrely. Be that as it may, for anyone with a second-hand or even superficial knowledge of Chernyshevsky, he appears as a somewhat dry person, to whom any idealism is quite alien. We very often used to confuse theoretical and philosophical idealism with practical idealism; perhaps we still do. It is from this that people conclude his lack of talent as a writer of fiction. It seems that he should have been given the same advice which Apollo gave to Socrates, a person with an overintellectual and rational nature, not long before his death: Apollo advised Socrates to take up music. This softening, harmonising music with its blend of intuition and romanticism was evidently completely missing in Chernyshevsky.