Leon Trotsky

Literature and Revolution


Translated: by Rose Strunsky in 1925.
Transcribed: for the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive by N. Vaklovisky in June 2000 from an uncopyrighted 1957 Russell & Russell, New York edition of Literature and Revolution.
HTML markup by David Walters in August 2000.
Proofread and completed by Einde O’Callaghan in January 2007 using the 1991 RedWords (London) edition of Literature and Revolution.
Originally published: by the Soviet Government in 1924 these essays by Trotsky constitute a significant contribution to then ongoing debate in the USSR over culture and art in a Workers State. It foreshadowed a later debate over the Stalinist conception of “Socialist Realism” in the later part of the decade. This book was suppressed by the bureaucracy after Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1928.

Kindle version of Literature and Revolution







1. Pre-Revolutionary Art

The Intelligentsia Which Stood Aloof – The Islanders – The Culture-Skimmers – The Ralliés – Reform in the Church – The Retainer – Quality in Literature – Individualism and Mysticism – Romanticism and Anthroposophy

2. The Literary “Fellow-travellers” of the Revolution

Transitional Art – A New Soviet Populism – Kliuev, A Revolutionary “Fellow Traveller” – Yessenin And The Imagists – The Unformed Realism of the “Serapion Fraternity” – The Retrogressional Realism of Pilnyak – Rustic or Peasant-Singing Poets – The “Changing Landmarks” Group – Neoclassicism or “Revolutionary Conservatism”

3. Alexander Blok

Blok’s Place in Russian Literature – The Pre-Revolutionary Element of Blok’s Symbolism – Why The Twelve is Not a Poem of the Revolution – Dualism – Blok and the Bourgeoisie

4. Futurism

Its Bohemian Origin – The Break with the Past – The Component Elements of Russian Futurism – Mayakovsky and the Revolution – Futurism, a Line Between the Creative Intelligentsia and the People

5. The Formalist School of Poetry and Marxism

The Formalist Opposition to Marxism – The Reduction of Poetry to Etymology and Syntax – Art for Art’s Sake and the Materialist Dialectics – The Argumentations of Shklovsky and Others – An Analogy with the Theologic Argument Against Darwinism

6. Proletarian Culture and Proletarian

What is Proletarian Culture, and Is it Possible? – The Cultural Methods of the Bourgeoisie and of the Proletariat – The Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Relation to Culture – What is Proletarian Science? – Workingmen-Poets and the Working-Class – Cosmism – Demyan Biedny

7. Communist Policy Toward Art

Revolutionary Art not Produced by Workers Alone – Leisure and Political Indifference of True Intelligentsia as Factors in Creative Art – The Functions of the Communist Party in Relation to Art – Social Cataclysm and the Continuity of Art and Culture

8. Revolutionary And Socialist Art

Greater Dynamics under Socialism – The “Realism” of Revolutionary Art – Soviet Comedy – Old and New Tragedy – Art, Technique and Nature – The Reshaping of Man

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Last updated on: 17 April 2011