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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

21 - Culture, 1900–1945

from Part II - Russia and the Soviet Union: Themes and Trends


Russian culture in the first two decades of the twentieth century came under influences that could be found in most European cultures. Russian culture was influenced by circumstances distinct from other cultures. The first was the intelligentsia, a self-defined class of educated people who sustained social and cultural life under the profoundly undemocratic conditions of tsarism. The second was the October Revolution, which separated Russia from European cultures after 1917, and fundamentally reconfigured the cultural life of the country. Moderate policies ensured that many modes of cultural expression received state support. In practice the Bolsheviks accepted the same cultural hierarchies that radical Leftists would make the primary target of October Revolution. Soviet culture suffered from a deep split between artists, administrators and audiences. Russian-Soviet culture was fundamentally different after fifty years of social and institutional change. An institutional framework based on the autocracy had given way to private and informal institutions, which were then swept away by the October Revolution.
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