New Literary Observer

Russia

For Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, modernism was a sinister force, especially in Russia, where it foretold “the most physically destructive revolution of the twentieth century”. Richard Tempest explores Solzhenitsyn’s overt and covert (dis)engagement with Russian and European modernism, arguing that he employed modernist means to achieve anti-modernist ends.

The “open society” to which Soviet existence is often claimed to have been opposed resembles the old idea of “the free world”. A non-moralistic approach to group relations in the Soviet Union moves beyond the simplistic link between modernisation and openness, writes Catriona Kelly.

Modernity in eastern Europe tends to be seen either as the partial opening up of a region characterized by traditional forms of societal self-understanding, or as a disfigured and radicalized adaptation of western modernity that prioritizes closure. Paul Blokker, in an article focusing on Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland and Hungary, argues that both views need to be combined.