Moscow, the Fourth Rome

Moscow, the Fourth Rome

Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941

Book - 2011
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Harvard University Press

In the early sixteenth century, the monk Filofei proclaimed Moscow the “Third Rome.” By the 1930s, intellectuals and artists all over the world thought of Moscow as a mecca of secular enlightenment. In Moscow, the Fourth Rome, Katerina Clark shows how Soviet officials and intellectuals, in seeking to capture the imagination of leftist and anti-fascist intellectuals throughout the world, sought to establish their capital as the cosmopolitan center of a post-Christian confederation and to rebuild it to become a beacon for the rest of the world.

Clark provides an interpretative cultural history of the city during the crucial 1930s, the decade of the Great Purge. She draws on the work of intellectuals such as Sergei Eisenstein, Sergei Tretiakov, Mikhail Koltsov, and Ilya Ehrenburg to shed light on the singular Zeitgeist of that most Stalinist of periods. In her account, the decade emerges as an important moment in the prehistory of key concepts in literary and cultural studies today—transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, and world literature. By bringing to light neglected antecedents, she provides a new polemical and political context for understanding canonical works of writers such as Brecht, Benjamin, Lukacs, and Bakhtin.

Moscow, the Fourth Rome breaches the intellectual iron curtain that has circumscribed cultural histories of Stalinist Russia, by broadening the framework to include considerable interaction with Western intellectuals and trends. Its integration of the understudied international dimension into the interpretation of Soviet culture remedies misunderstandings of the world-historical significance of Moscow under Stalin.

The sixteenth-century monk Filofei proclaimed Moscow the Third Rome. By the 1930s, intellectuals and artists all over the world thought of Moscow as a mecca of secular enlightenment. Clark shows how Soviet officials and intellectuals sought to establish their capital as the Fourth Rome—a cosmopolitan post-Christian beacon for the rest of the world.

Book News
Suggesting that 1930s Moscow can be (imperfectly) analogized as a new Rome in terms of how intellectuals and cultural producers in the Soviet capital city conceived their relationship as service to the universalizing aims of the highly-centralized Soviet system through the production of superior culture while simultaneously maintaining a cosmopolitan dialogue with cultural producers in other parts of the world, this work explores the role of Moscow as cultural metropole of the Soviet system. Clark (comparative literature and Slavic languages and literatures, Yale U.) situates her investigation into the production of Soviet culture in Moscow through the window of the activities of four "intermediaries" who represent the "cosmopolitan patriots" committed to the Soviet state, but pushing for more cosmpolitan culture: film and theater director Sergei Eisenstein; journalist and publisher Mikhail Koltsov; poet, novelist, and journalist Ilya Erenburg; and writer, photographer, and filmmaker Sergei Tretiakov. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2011, c2011
Description: viii, 420 p. ; 25 cm
ISBN: 9780674057876
Branch Call Number: 947.310842 Cla


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