Immortals are not men: Maiakovskii, the Strugatskii brothers, and the new Soviet man Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Reese, Kevin Mitchell
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • This study seeks to transcribe the dialogue with various futures that is integral to the works of two Soviet writers: the poet Vladimir Maiakovskii and the co-author consisting of the brothers Arkadii and Boris Strugatskii. Dialogue with a variety of possible futures is a noteworthy feature of much science fiction. However, since Soviet Marxism dictated that the general terms of the future were known and inevitable, the contents of such a dialogue in Soviet science fiction are of special interest, particularly where they diverge from portrayals of utopia. The New Soviet Man--the mythical being who was understood to be the inhabitant of any Soviet future--should be viewed as a constant participant in this dialogue. A concrete definition of the New Soviet Man is elusive: this being is usually described by opposition to the given present human, conditionally labeled in this study as the Old Soviet Man. The New Soviet Man is, by definition, the superior of the Old Soviet Man physically, mentally, and morally. Considering one author from the early Soviet period and one from the post-war period enables this study to cover much of the Soviet era. In fact, since science fiction can be conceptualized as a mapping not only from the present to a future, but also back to the present, this study will be an account of certain moments of the Soviet present of the twentieth century. The discussion focuses on three central topics, each of which is a permutation of the set of themes surrounding the New Soviet Man: the machines of the future, the humans of the future, and the intersection between the two. These topics are the respective subjects of chapters one, three, and two. The conclusion considers these questions within a wider context, with specific reference to the influence of H. G. Wells. Ultimately, the study aims to draw conclusions about the writers' attitudes regarding the New Soviet Man, and, more generally, about the idea that the human being can and should be improved.
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  • Vuletic, Ivana
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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