An Autobiographical Narration of the Role of Fear and Friendship in the Soviet Union (Mellen Lives S. No. 20)
By: Vladmir Shlapentokh (author)Hardback
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An autobiography of a well-known American sociologist who first rose to prominence in the Soviet Union. Author examines the life of an individual who realized in his early youth the totalitarian character of the Soviet society but who did not dare fight the system. The book revolves around the intellectual evolution of the author and his attempt to create himself a picture of society that was opposed to the official ideology. Preface This is a fascinating book wherein the author, himself a world-class sociologist, describes and reflects upon his life in Soviet Russia before migrating to the United States. We view in his remembrance, a parade of ideologues and cynics, of apparatchiks and scholars, of musicians and KGB agents, of artists and scientists, manipulators and operators, patriots and dispossessed bourgeois yearning for repossession. Though in retrospect he terms Soviet Russia a horrible society, the picture he paints is not of a chamber of horrors.
There was for him a blissful childhood and youth in the warmth of socialist ideals, protected from the knowledge that poised on Russia's borders, the Nazis had prepared the most powerful military force in the world for the proclaimed purpose of destroying Russia and enslaving its people. There were those two-month-long vacations on the Black Sea and conversations of a quality without parallel elsewhere. There were warm, close enriching encounters in the Academic Town that Khrushchev created. There were the rewards of his own success as a teacher and in his creative role in the founding of a scientific sociology in Russia. And especially there were friendships. The graduates of his high school class solidly bonded together in a friendship that was deep, devoted, and life-lasting. With a select few there was a total devotion, an absolute trust, and an intensity of relations that would seem quite outside the scope of American experience. Such friendships might be explained as providing safe haven in the prevailing universe of fear. Fear and friendship is the book's double theme.
And the author would hold that popular and private behavior in all countries is to be explained not simply by reference to a table of values but also by reference to a complex of fears. Especially
Dr. Vladimir Shlapentokh was born, raised, and educated in the Soviet Union. Before immigrating to the United States in 1979, he was a Senior Fellow in the Sociological Institute in Moscow and conducted the first nationwide public opinion polls in the Soviet Union. After immigrating to the United States, has published 17 books and dozens of professional articles about Soviet and post-Soviet issues. His latest books include Fears in Post-Communist Society (coauthor) (New York/Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002) and A Normal Totalitarian Society (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2001). He has published dozens of columns in periodicals such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Christian Science Monitor. He is a Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University.
Preface by Robert Solo i; Acknowledgments iii; A Note to English Readers v; Introduction 1; Izya and Alik 2; "Objective" Biographies of Friends in Light of Contemporary Post-Modernism 5; Fear 9; Chapter 1: My Friends: Friendship During Soviet Childhood, Our Families, and Soviet Power Before the War 13; "Happy Soviet Childhood" 20; The Spirit of Collectivism and Friendship in Our School 23; The War as Something Sacred 28; Chapter 2: Friendship and Maturity 31; Moral Compatibility 33; One's Own Dignity 35; Intellectual Honesty 37; Envy 43; Self-Expression 46; Our Vacations 48; Chapter 3: Fear: Life in the Totalitarian Society 51; Fear After 1953 54; Alik and the KGB 56; Chapter 4: Our Intellectual and Cultural Development 61; The Way It Turned Out That We Became Students at Kiev University 61; Marx in My Life 68; Our "Intellectual Projects" 70; Foreign Languages as a Means of Survival 80; Our Aesthetic Development: Literature 82; Religion in Our Life 83; Music in Our Life 85; Poetry 88; Cinema 89; Art 91; Chapter 5: "The Jewish Question" and My Friends 95; "The Jewish Question" Before the War 96; "The Jewish Question" and the War 101; "The Jewish Question" During the First Years After the War 107; Between 1952 and 1957 115; Chapter 6: Bittersweet Life in Post-Stalinist Russia: The Academic Campus in the 1960s 121; Fear and the KGB at the Academic Campus 128; Moscow in the 1970s 133; Fears in Moscow 142; Chapter 7: The National Issue in our Friendship 149; What I know About Alik's Russian Patriotism 150; Alik and the Jews 152; Emigration in the 1970s 155; America and Russia: The Paradoxes of Self-Expression and Self-Worth 159; After Emigration 161; Conclusion: Parting with the Totalitarian Past 163; List of Names 177; Index of Names and Works 183
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- ID: 9780773462946
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