THE INVENTION OF PEASANT LITERATURE (on the materials of the All-Russian Society of Peasant Writers (VOKP), IWL department of manuscripts)


Elena A. Papkova

Information about the author(s)

Elena A. Papkova, DSc in Philology, Associate Professor, Senior Researcher, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: elena. iv@bk.ru


September 06, 2016


December 25, 2016




Textology. Materials.




DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2016-1-3-4-399-418


УДК 821.161.1


ББК 833 (4Рос)6


The essay focuses on the Society of Peasants Writers (hereafter referred as VOKP) that changed a number of names in the course of its existence — All-Russian Peasants’ Union of Writers (1921–1925), All-Russian Society of Peasant Writers (1925–1930), All-Russian Association of Proletarian and Kolkhoz writers (1931), and Russian society of Proletarian and Kolkhoz Writers (1931–1932). Its main objective was the implementation of the state program for the “village reconstruction” (Vladimir Lenin) in the spirit of “raskrestyanivanie” [de-peasant-ring]. IWL archives (fund 156) contain rich materials on the history of the two periods of VOKP’s activity, its agendas as well as evidence of its creative and ideological work with aspiring village writers. In the first period, 1921–1927, the Society rendered real help to peasants, primarily in literary studies, within the framework of the so called struggle against the peasantry ignorance. After 1927, albeit VOKP was extended, the activity of the Society concentrated on the crusade against the kulak and petty-bourgeois ideology. While the All-Russian Peasants’ Union of Writers was being transformed into the Russian Society of Proletarian and Kolkhoz Writers, the Society tried to decide who was a “true” or “genuine” peasant writer and who therefore had the right to instruct beginners. The work of «kulak poets» such as S. A. Yesenin and N. A. Klyuyev was no longer considered appropriate for the poetical education of younger people. Drawing on the reviews of the poetical works from the VOKP fund, the essay seeks to understand how the Society evaluated ideology and aesthetics of these works, what kind of advice and recommendations it gave to the authors and eventually what were the criteria for publication and for the VOKP membership. The article argues that conformity to the so called Proletarian and Kolkhoz ideology was becoming into the defining principle of evaluation and acceptance. Letters and manuscripts sent by peasant writers’ to VOKP, however, tell a different story. They reflect thoughts and ideas expressed by the dwellers of Soviet villages, communes, and collective farms of the 1920’s — early 1930’s and show that their authors did not share many aspects of the state policy.


Society of Peasants Writers, the task of “raskrestyanivaniye” [de-peasant-ring] of the village, periodization, literary studies, ideological setups, “kulak poets,” VOKP Fund in the IWL archive collection.

Works cited

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