Roman Kutov 2014
Author: Roman Kutov;
First published: 14 November 2014
Translated by: Anton P.
Contemporary Russian literature is in crisis. Having a serious literary tradition, including a revolutionary trend, it degenerates under capitalism, despite the fact that this process is approved by some unscrupulous cultural figures and carried out by their own hands. Literature is replaced by fiction, art by mass culture.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to state the fact of the death of literature, since there is a previous literary experience of mankind, which cannot be canceled and which will necessarily have a progressive development, if not now, under capitalism, then later. Therefore, in this article we will try to briefly recall what was before, and understand what is now.
Language exists as a reflection of the processes of thinking, which in turn reflects the reality of a person. Here it is impossible to talk about the beginning or the end, the chicken or the egg, to raise the question of what was at the beginning: thought or speech, since this is an interconnected process.
Animals have a first signaling system with which they can express specific emotions associated with a particular life situation. It is based on the interaction of conditioned and unconditioned reflexes with the outside world. Simply put, it serves as the basis for reflecting reality through sensations.
The first signaling system is necessary for animals to survive and by itself has no potential for the emergence of thinking. For the emergence of thinking, a sign system is needed that would unite various objects of reality that have common essential features in one sign. It also served to distinguish between objects of reality, creating a prerequisite for the appearance of other signs. Such a sign in the language is the word, which is the basis for the second signal system necessary for the emergence of thinking. Without the word it is impossible to isolate the concept and, consequently, theoretical knowledge of reality is impossible.
The first and second signal systems are related as concrete and abstract. The first is necessary not only for animals, but also for humans, for communication at the level of emotions, sounds and gestures, for expressing a specific state and attitude to the subject of reality. The second is needed to combine and distinguish objects according to essential features, i.e. abstraction.
The peoples who lived in the forest area knew many types of trees, naming them differently: fir trees, aspens, birches and others, since they had different properties and characteristics. Some have needles, others have leaves, some give juice, others make excellent boats. At the same time, they were also aware of the common in them, having formed the concept of a tree, the common features of which are inherent in all trees, regardless of their differences. Some peoples living in snowy areas have words that mean several dozen different types of snow at once. The dependence of the lexicon on the area, contacts with other peoples and many other factors has long been noticed by linguists.
It is not known for certain when the first language appeared, and how, but it is clear that this is due to the development of the vocal apparatus in human ancestors thousands of years ago, which adapted to pronounce articulate sounds, thereby laying the foundation for speech. Experiments with monkeys who were taught sign language show that human ancestors may have had the beginnings of non-verbal speech. In the process of complication of labor activity, there was a need for communication of a higher order, i.e. in a sign system, which led to the development of a vocal apparatus with which it could function. In the interaction of labor, communication and thinking, language appeared. This gave a new impetus to the knowledge of reality.
The next stage in the development of language and speech is writing.
Initially, a person does not need writing, since he is mainly occupied with survival. A certain level of culture had to develop where the preservation of the wisdom and knowledge of previous generations could no longer be passed on by word of mouth, since mere memorization is limited in scope. A state was to appear that would make possible the division of mental and physical labor. People were needed who were able to recognize the language as a certain grammatical system, be able to divide it into components and give them a written sign, a grapheme (letter, syllabic sign, hieroglyph, etc.).
Wherever the state appeared, there was a need for writing. The state needs legislation, the consolidation of religious norms, the ability to keep records of economic activity, trade, establish agreements with other states, and so on. The growth of territories, the complication of management requires a more reliable form of information storage than oral transmission and memorization provided.
Where the tribal system has been preserved in its original form, there is no written language to this day.
Marxism teaches that society develops naturally, from one certainty to another. At a certain historical moment in history, the contradictions between the two opposing classes reach such a level of development that one of them is forced to destroy the other in order to continue development at a new level, which will inevitably, in turn, reach the limit and lead to a new leap in development and the emergence of another contradiction between other classes. To put it simply, the development of society occurs naturally, having periods of more and less stable and steady movement towards a clash of classes, which inevitably ends in a revolution. This is how history moves: from primitive society to slave society, from the latter to feudalism, thence to capitalism, until the classes are destroyed in the course of the communist revolution.
The same dialectical laws of development operate in the history of literature. The origin of any written monument of fiction, subject matter, plot, form of a work at all levels is determined by the historical moment in which it was created.
During the primitive communal system, literature did not exist. As we said earlier, there was no written language yet, so it is impossible to talk about literary activity. But almost all the literature of the period of slaveholding relations and the first class states was rooted in primitive mythology. The heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey, of the tragedies of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus are almost all semi-legendary, and even mythical personalities; in the world of the works of these authors, the gods existed together with people, helped or hindered them.
The most ancient myths of primitive times existed and were passed on to future generations in oral form. And they have always existed as part of the history of the tribe, they included ideas about the material world, and about man, about gods and spirits. What was fictional or imagined in the myths was in no way separated from the myth itself in the mind of primitive man. The myth here exists as a part of man, the myth has never been separated from the real world and was a form of its reflection in the head of a primitive man. It contained his past, present and future. Not having sufficient information about the surrounding world at his disposal, not understanding it and rightly fearing the unknown, primitive man had to give an explanation to the phenomena. In no other way could he do this, except through myth and the identification of the forces of nature with pagan gods. So he tried to get to know these forces and win them over.
In this form, we must understand the ancient magical rites, which were accompanied by songs and dances, and ancient rock paintings, applications to them. All these rudiments of subsequent forms of art in primitive times were specific attempts to understand the world around us. Later, during the heyday of class states, myths were processed, the power of the art form in which the content was clothed began to be realized, and literary activity became an art form. For example, the ancient theater, the ancestor of the modern theater, appeared from the mysteries, divine services dedicated to Dionysus, and the word “tragedy” literally translated from ancient Greek means “the song of the goats” (the songs were sung by “satyrs” – members of the choir dressed in goat skins).
Mythological thinking as a way of reflecting the world is preserved even now, even among urban residents, it is the basis for oral folk art, for folklore. When a myth loses its former sacred meaning and ceases to be a part of life and production, then it becomes a fairy tale, and the rite becomes a holiday (let us recall at least Shrovetide).
In the slave-owning period of human history, literary activity was the privilege of the ruling class. At that time, the literary form began to be perceived as a special tool that can make the content more convincing and poetic. An example is the poem of Titus Lucretius Carus On the Nature of Things, which outlines the materialistic philosophical doctrine of Epicurus; Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a collection of ancient myths, clothed in the form of a poem; the Aeneid was written by Virgil at the request of Octavian Augustus to show the exclusivity of the Roman people and Augustus himself, who, according to the poem, is a descendant of Aeneas, the protagonist of the work.
Literature is still largely connected with myths and folklore, but it is already beginning to separate from them.
Under feudalism, fiction develops within the framework of monotheistic religions. The Church’s monopoly on knowledge extended to art as well. In literature, this is especially evident in the example of Old Russian and Russian literature before the beginning of the 18th century. At this time predominantly ecclesiastical genres prevail.
The monks kept chronicles, wrote lives and walks, etc. These genres cannot be classified as purely artistic, but, nevertheless, the artistry of such works leaves no doubt. Often they talk about historical events, such as, for example, in The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, or in The Tale of Bygone Years.
Princes, or feudal lords in Europe, were exhibited, which is typical for that time, as virtuous patrons of the people (for example, The Tale of Peter and Fevronia of Murom). The Prayer of Daniel the Sharpener is a glorification of Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich.
Epiphanius the Wise wrote The Sermon on the Life and Teachings of Our Holy Father Stefan, Bishop of Perm, which speaks of the priest Stefan, who led a pilgrimage among the Permian pagans of the 15th century.
Many examples can be cited, but it is clear that Russian fiction before the era of classicism was filled mainly with religious content and was associated with the church.
Western literature of the Middle Ages reflected the realities of feudalism in artistic form. A chivalric romance was popular, a ballad genre that glorifies the exploits of the feudal lords in the war.
This continued until the Renaissance. Its humanistic spirit was a reflection of the time when the emerging capitalist relations began to compete with the former production system – feudalism. These changes in society began to need the ideological justification that literature provided. Humanistic tendencies found expression in the works of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dante.
During the Renaissance, the previous literary tradition was denied. Life during this period is reflected in a work of art no longer as the existence of a person in religious obedience to the majesty of God, here a person acquires independence, everything physical is not denied here as before, but on the contrary, a person becomes the center of a work of art, his mind, strength and beauty. We see the first signs of psychologism as the main method of realist literature in Shakespeare’s tragedies.
The classic literature of later times continued the ideological tendencies of the Renaissance, but the term “classicism” refers rather to the form of the work, to the plot and style. This is expressed in the fact that the classicists everywhere carried out changes in the language, forming a special style and principles according to which it was necessary to create a work. In literature, laws and connections are beginning to be realized, so the classicists set themselves the task of forming the canons of the artistic language. At this time, theoretical works appeared that formed the direction of classicism: Poetic Art by Nicolas Boileau, a century later, Trediakovsky’s A New and Brief Method for Composing Russian Poetry and Lomonosov’s Letter on the Rules of Russian Poetry came out.
Classicism is based on ancient genres, in particular, Aristotle’s Poetics is the first work on the theory of drama. Antique stories often become the basis for classic works.
The conflict of tragedies is built on the opposition of duty and feeling. Moreover, duty always wins, even if the hero dies at the same time, he will still do everything right. The classicist forms images that do not express individual, private people, he is not inclined to create realistic characters, the images of the classicist express certain forces in society, and the heroes act as representatives of them.
Sentimentalism is presented as a negation of classicism. Indeed, it is the complete opposite. Civic topics are excluded, reason and duty are discarded in favor of sensitivity. The emphasis on the internal state of a person created the possibility of the emergence of an artistic technique of psychologism, important for the further development of literature. It will be important for both romanticism and realism. Often the action of sentimentalist works took place on the road and in nature and was accompanied by a description of impressions from the environment. Both in form and in content, sentimentalism is a more lively trend; it begins the process of ridding literature of stylistic and genre conventions and gives the artist more freedom.
Examples of the literature of sentimentalism are the works of Rousseau, Goethe’s novel The Sufferings of Young Werther, Poor Lisa by Karamzin, partly by Radishchev with his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
The next literary trend will be romanticism. This is the last global trend in literature before realism, which also has content settings, where the characters of the work, their worldview, the plot are strongly connected with the trend itself.
Romantic works are built on opposites. Real and fantastic, nature and city, reality and ideal. The romantic worldview is largely due to the disappointment that the consequences of the Great French bourgeois revolution brought. Even the state of a typical romantic hero, melancholy (for example, Rene by Chateaubriand), speaks of this. The second hero, typical of romanticism, is a rebel (Michael Kohlhaas by Kleist or Dubrovsky by Pushkin), also expressing the mood of the writers of romanticism.
The romantic hero is usually described by literary theorists as an exceptional person in exceptional circumstances. In many ways, this is true. Romantic writers wanted to create unusual works, as opposed to classicism, which they denied. However, it is worth adding that the romantic hero is internally consistent and does not develop; this makes him related to classicism. The realistic hero receives real inner development.
Romantic writers often use folklore motifs or raise mystical themes, as well as religious ones. In romantic works, the factual and the real are intertwined, which makes the grotesque technique significant.
The last literary trend that gained momentum and became the main trend during the establishment of bourgeois society, which is now practically the only one, is realism.
Realism has many directions and has existed since almost the birth of the first class societies and the appearance of writing in one form or another. Nevertheless, it began to occupy a leading position when it was no longer possible to use the literary framework of romanticism, its heroes. Together with the bourgeois revolutions, the role of the new classes began to be realized. Both the bourgeois and the proletarian could not appear in literature as a sad hero or a rebel hero in the form in which they are presented in romanticism (whose heroes were usually either nobles or merchants). Moreover, new writers appeared who came from the bottom, who could not limit themselves to the old art forms.
The main feature of realism is that it is based on concrete historical reality. The hero of the work is a product of society, lives and acts based on a specific historical situation. At the same time, he is his reflection, a reflection of the environment in which he was brought up and grew up, as well as the class to which he belongs. The realistic hero is a type, i.e. a generalization of the entire social stratum that he expresses, and at the same time he is an individual, since he has specific specific features that distinguish him, he is no longer a simple expression of social power, as in the literature of classicism. The historical situation is always concrete, the hero is its product. It is also especially important that the hero is in development, and this is one of the most important installations of realism. The development of the hero was in romanticism, and in classicism, and in other directions, but in realism it is conditioned by the environment and the historical situation, and this is emphasized.
We do not have to look far for examples: Stendhal, London, Dreiser, Balzac, Hemingway; in Russia: Pushkin (The Captain’s Daughter, Eugene Onegin), Gogol (Dead Souls), Lermontov (A Hero of Our Time), Turgenev, Goncharov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Sholokhov, Ostrovsky, etc.
Artistic trends determine the settings in the use of artistic forms, and that part of reality that certain writers display in a work, i.e. determine the content. The content depends on the historical situation, on social existence, and also on the revolutionary situation. History shows that the classics of fiction, the most significant writers, appeared at moments of leaps in the development of society, in revolutionary eras. The significance of the writer is determined by his skill and ability to reveal and show the urgent contradictions in society, as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Nekrasov, Turgenev, Sholokhov, Gorky did.
The literary process moves from the simple to the more complex, like society, according to the laws that operate in society itself and in nature. It has a certain independence in terms of the development of form, and in terms of content it is always determined by the movement of society.
Literature reflects society, at the same time it is its reflection. The struggle of classes is accompanied by a struggle of literary attitudes, the accumulation of contradictions between the two opposing trends inevitably leads to the victory of the more complex and progressive one, which denies the previous state of literature.
Ancient literature is a product of the development of society, the emergence of the division of labor and the emergence of the state, as well as mythological plots, at the same time it is a product of the denial of the primitive society from which it emerged. The continuity of artistic means here is observed in the song character of tragedies, in the presence of poetic forms in early ancient works.
Medieval literature with a dominant Christian worldview denies the ancient literature, abandoning mythological subjects and artistic forms. The literature of the Renaissance, and then of the Enlightenment, denies the religious essence of medieval literature in the face of the direction of classicism, which formally returns to ancient literature, but in a qualitatively new form.
Romanticism denies the principles of classicism, bringing into literature the idea of the struggle of opposites and developing psychology. Realism is at the same time the result of the development of all previous literature, it takes everything that is most significant in terms of art from previous trends, it denies them, and at the same time is a consequence of their development, as well as the result of the development of society, natural science and philosophy.
At the same time, qualitatively realism is the most complex and progressive direction, which, in terms of the degree of cognitive potential, approaches science. And the propaganda power, in view of the relative ease of perception of a work of art in comparison with science, is now even higher.
Now that we have determined how literary forms develop in history and how they relate to society, we need to identify the main specific features of literature as an art.
Fiction is a kind of art, the main tool of which is the language, and the minimal unit of any literary work is the image.
Language as a building material is contained in the writer’s mind in the form of vocabulary, grammatical, syntactic, spelling, punctuation rules. The level of a writer’s skill in writing texts is determined by the depth of language acquisition.
The ability to create an artistic image is a must for a writer who wants to be called an artist. This ability is formed not only due to the knowledge of the language and the rules of its functioning in writing, but also due to the assimilation of the entire historical experience of fiction, as well as due to the understanding of objective reality, which is reflected in the work in a certain artistic way.
Human consciousness reflects being, including its creative product: an artistic image. But consciousness is not limited to reflection, it seeks to know and transform.
Scientific knowledge results in a concept, i.e. the essence of a phenomenon expressed in verbal form, given in development and in interaction with other objects and phenomena, abstracted from random, insignificant signs.
Artistic activity ultimately gives rise to an image, which, like a concept, appears as a result of understanding reality and carries a certain generalization. The concept comes as close to the truth as possible. But the image used to express the truth can go further, because it shows reality not in abstraction, but in a concrete art form.
Simply put, the concept and the image are two forms of cognition of reality. But they are different in significance, since literature always relies on the achievements of science and philosophy, it is a conductor of new ideas in society.
If the concept strives to correspond to reality, to be objective, then the artistic image is subjective. Being a generalization, the image must have a specific sensual embodiment, whether it be a picture, music or text. The artist needs to put his own experience of sensory perception into the image, which imposes on any created image specific features that are unique to this artist. This, by the way, is called the author’s style.
For the concept, subjectivity is not only superfluous, but also harmful, since it can lead to errors, and the image cannot exist without it.
If the concept, due to the constant knowledge of the world, can be supplemented, deepened and changed, i.e. is in development, the image is always complete, because it is concrete. There is absolutely no need to supplement and change Mozart’s sonatas or to add to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, because these are complete, finished products of human thought.
If the task of science is the knowledge of objective reality, then the task of art is the formation of a person’s attitude to the world through aesthetic comprehension. A work of art must be beautiful, it must nurture a sense of beauty, otherwise it makes no sense. The literary image should form the reader’s idea of an object or phenomenon, which would not only be a reflection, but also a certain relation to it.
Art, creating artistic reality, educates the person himself. Modeling a certain ideal, art encourages a person to follow it. The significance, for example, of socialist realism lies in the fact that it reveals the essence of social problems and at the same time provides a solution to them, based on the revolutionary theory of Marxism. That is, the product of art affects the social practice of the reader.
The concept is much higher in importance in the matter of cognition of the world, since it is able to develop objectively, expresses the truth that does not depend on human perception, i.e. expresses the truth most accurately and fully. The artistic image is inseparable from subjective perception, creates an attitude to the world and forms an aesthetic feeling, and it must also be complete. This means that art is always subordinate to science.
But, nevertheless, this does not diminish the importance of art and the power of the image. It is just that science and art have different tasks. The subordination of one to the other is due to the fact that the first social need of a person is the transformation and knowledge of the world, which is completely objective and does not depend on the perception of a person, has nothing to do with aesthetic tastes. This creates the need for an impartial and conscientious attitude of a person towards it, if he wants to avoid many mistakes in this matter. An engineer designing a spaceship needs to make it fly, not look pretty. Therefore, it will be based on the results of the natural sciences. The artist, on the other hand, must express a certain attitude towards space flights, he may not even know the purpose of all parts of the spacecraft in order to express, for example, on canvas, the triumph of mankind in the exploration and knowledge of space.
Consequently, the artistic image is the result of the cognition of reality, expressed through a certain aesthetic perception of the artist, which should cause a person’s attitude to the world. The image is subjective, inextricably linked with the creator.
In fiction, the image is formed with the help of language, and its completeness, beauty and plausibility depend on the writer’s skill in using the language, its capabilities, and on his assimilation of all the previous artistic experience of mankind.
From the moment of the appearance of writing and until now, fiction has always remained class-based. This state of affairs will continue until abundance is achieved, physical labor is eliminated, in other words, until full communism is built. Until then, it is impossible to speak of classless or above-class fiction. In addition, the illusion of independent art can lead to many theoretical errors.
The modern intelligentsia eagerly supports the theory of the supra-class nature of art. Proceeding from it, the artist is a creator, whose motives and goals should not lend themselves to class analysis, since art fundamentally lies outside social categories. The writer, for example, must look for some “human universals”, that is, something eternal that is inherent in all people, in all social formations. The main thing in this theory is absolute truths. From a philosophical point of view, this approach is no different from any religion. Only here, as a god (absolute idea), is a set of virtues or aesthetic absolutes, which act as the guiding star of the creator.
In another case, the intelligentsia turns the above inside out and another example is obtained – art for art’s sake.
Thus, these intellectuals imagine the elitism of fiction and art in general. One gets the impression that a writer is born a writer (like a businessman is born a businessman, etc.), that the ability to be creative is transmitted by genes or is received “from God”. In general, everyone should be in his place, the proletarian at the bench, the writer at the table, the bourgeois in Courchevel.
This is how the question of partisanship in literature gets confused. While Marxists are trying to understand the essence of certain acts of ideological struggle between classes, i.e. including defining reactionary and progressive literature, thereby emphasizing the contradiction between classes, the bourgeoisie seeks to confuse them, to deny the need for such a formulation of the question. Art is art because it meets the demands put forward by the artistic elite, who have an education and a financial allowance. It is believed that it is the form that creates the work, the content does not play a serious role.
Labor under market conditions cannot serve as a subject of aesthetics, since labor is not perceived as the only source of all created public goods, but as an ordinary commodity, like many others.
Therefore, another art arises: anti-aesthetic. The subject of admiration is the individual freedom of the bourgeois to do what he pleases. Moreover, it is not always explained that not everyone can become one. Thus, books that describe and savor the excesses of bourgeois life become the best-selling product. However, sometimes things go further, as, for example, in American Psycho by Bret Ellis.
Art under capitalism is replaced by mass culture, fiction. For the publisher, the main thing is to sell as many copies of books as possible, they do not care about the content itself. Therefore, they print everything that is in the zone of interests of the layman. Any subject is welcome, up to various shock content.
The struggle of ideology in art, in particular in fiction, is a reflection of the class struggle that occurs regardless of the ideas and values of individual members of society. As in economics and politics, certain representatives of classes, whether they are aware of their belonging or not, act on the basis of certain ideological attitudes that are dictated to them by real life circumstances, their culture and upbringing.
The ideological goal of the bourgeois writer is to take the reader as far as possible from understanding the necessity of the class struggle and bringing it to the dictatorship of the working class. It does not matter how he does it: whether he instills an egoistic feeling, individualism in the reader, whether he supports unscientific ideas, mystifies reality, convinces him to believe in God, or makes him believe in the exclusivity of his nation, or simply occupies the proletarian with a banal detective or fantasy story – it is necessary to distract from the real problems of capitalist reality and constructive ways to resolve them. And it is not necessary that the writer did it on purpose. He can sincerely believe in what he writes. Intentions here do not matter, the important thing is that in the end the work works to stupefy the reading population.
Therefore, a potentially progressive writer is one who sets himself the goal of revealing the essence of the problems that exist in society. So, the first necessity for a writer is to study society, relying on scientific Marxist theory, and to act, applying it in practice, and most importantly, to use it in artistic creation. Not to hush up the class struggle, but to point to it, not to defend private property, but to insist on the need to get rid of it.
This is the partisanship in literature. Openly or not, every writer in his practice approaches either the camp of the bourgeois literary intelligentsia, defending market values, or consciously or spontaneously works to bring communism closer.
Modern Russian writers can be conditionally divided into two groups.
The first is fiction writers. Numerous Dontsovs, Lukyanenkos, Akunins and others. They write entertaining texts, in fact, this is the daily bread for publishers.
The genre of such literature is very different, but mostly it is detectives, fantasy and science fiction. Hundreds of faceless writers and hundreds of thousands of pages of text from year to year go through large and small publishing houses and constitute the main source of income.
This is precisely the type of literature that, with all the accumulation of quantity, will never turn into quality. Each genre niche (fantasy, science fiction stories) has a certain set of clichés: plot, descriptive, event, typical characters – which the writer operates, putting them together like a constructor. Such a process can in no way be called creativity, since creativity presupposes a product that is based on a rethought cultural body of the past, but at the same time denying it, it reaches a qualitatively new level.
The second group consists of writers who claim to have creative thought. An example is Sorokin and Pelevin.
For the most part, they are postmodernists, whose goal is to excite the elitism of the reader. These writers are moving away from classical forms, thereby limiting their audience to a handful of intellectuals. In fact, these are bourgeois writers, anti-communist in their convictions, who deny the productive function of art.
Both the first and the second group are products of their own class and era of imperialism. The market economy forces the proletarians to exchange the commodity “ability to work” for a living wage. Literary figures sell another product: “creative thought”, become prostitutes “with their soul”, as they are aware or should be aware of their service to the oligarchs. The problem is that on the conscience of these writers, who are rooting for their position in the market society with all their might, not only personal dignity, but also thousands of confused readers. Unfortunately, if you consume simplified literature from year to year, without a glimpse of thought, then you become dumber and more unpretentious. The generation born in the 1980s and 1990s already reads little, so they are also stuffed with low-grade writings, from which the taste is dulled and the brains are powdered. A modern student is no longer able to adequately perceive classical literature, since it is too complicated for them and requires historical scientific knowledge.
It must be recognized that the current state of fiction is a natural result of the development of the spiritual life of capitalist society in Russia. Now it is impossible to fully devote oneself to creativity, developing oneself as a writer, creating really high-quality literature, which not only gives pleasure with the brightness and truthfulness of images, but educates the reader, has a meaningful message, forcing one to think and develop. A work that criticizes the foundations of capitalism, shows the class struggle with certainty, simply will not go to the general press. The real censorship in force at the moment is the censorship of the customer. Whoever has the money determines the reader’s tastes of the masses.
If we look at the question practically, it is now impossible to imagine a writer of the level of Mikhail Sholokhov or Leo Tolstoy. Classical Russian literature is the result of a spiritual revolution and the formation of a national culture, the assertion of bourgeois values and the destruction of feudal ones. Ideological struggle is an indispensable companion of any great literature. Both in the first and in the second half of the 19th century there was a tradition, a literary movement, spurred on by the struggle of the old, obsolete noble class against emerging capitalism on the one hand and the oppressed peasantry on the other. It was then, in the conditions of this struggle, that writers created: Gogol, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chernyshevsky, Nekrasov, Chekhov, Saltykov-Shchedrin; critics: Belinsky, Dobrolyubov, Pisarev and others. The class struggle played a decisive role in the formation of these writers.
A similar situation with reliance on the class struggle will be in any classical literature, from ancient to socialist.
Now, in the absence of such a literary environment, with the influx of low-quality literature, when there is nothing to praise in society, it will be difficult for such a writer to appear. The reality of the class struggle requires, rather, scientific conscientiousness and political literacy.
Nevertheless, literary thought requires development, and it receives it mainly in the forms of postmodernism. Unfortunately, in the presence of general stupidity of the masses, lack of taste in the majority of the reading youth and intelligentsia, it takes on an ugly appearance and finds itself in postmodernism, which is a dead end in the development of anti-realism.
The question of the role of literature in the ideological struggle against the bourgeoisie still remains open today. Financial, informational means of forming mass culture in a market society are in the hands of the bourgeoisie, therefore, cultural figures, including writers, directly or indirectly serve the power of capital. Of course, we cannot count on them.
In addition, despite the undeniable conscientiousness of many of the most advanced classical writers of their time, who promoted progressive ideas in their works, much more often writers acted as reactionaries and market obscurantists, strengthening the foundations of the rule of capital. Writers of the twentieth century also succeeded in this matter, especially the sixties, such as Aksenov, Solzhenitsyn, Okudzhava, Akhmadulina, Yevtushenko, etc.
However, it is impossible to put an end to literature. History also knows bourgeois writers who reveal the essence of certain phenomena of a market society. For example, Dreiser, London, Hemingway, Remarque, Steinbeck.
One can also hope for the emergence of communist writers, even now. But in the conditions of the ideological victory of the bourgeoisie, it is necessary to develop propaganda skills and, with the help of Marxist theory, win scientific authority in the proletariat and the intelligentsia, among which there are bound to be poets and artists, writers and musicians.