Remaining Relevant after Communism

The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe

Andrew Baruch Wachtel

Remaining Relevant after Communism
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Andrew Baruch Wachtel

224 pages | 8 halftones, 10 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2006
Cloth $34.00 ISBN: 9780226867663 Published February 2006
More than any other art form, literature defined Eastern Europe as a cultural and political entity in the second half of the twentieth century. Although often persecuted by the state, East European writers formed what was frequently recognized to be a "second government," and their voices were heard and revered inside and outside the borders of their countries. This study by one of our most influential specialists on Eastern Europe considers the effects of the end of communism on such writers.

According to Andrew Baruch Wachtel, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of fledgling societies in Eastern Europe brought an end to the conditions that put the region's writers on a pedestal. In the euphoria that accompanied democracy and free markets, writers were liberated from the burden of grandiose political expectations. But no group is happy to lose its influence: despite recognizing that their exalted social position was related to their reputation for challenging political oppression, such writers have worked hard to retain their status, inventing a series of new strategies for this purpose. Remaining Relevant after Communism considers these strategies—from pulp fiction to public service—documenting what has happened on the East European scene since 1989.
Robert Murray Davis | Transitions
"Carefully reasoned and researched."
Harold B. Segel | German Quarterly Book Review
"A timely and interesting perspective on significant trends in 'Writings from an Unbound Europe.'"
Yvonne Howell | Slavic and Eastern European Journal
"For specialists in a particular region or literature, this book offers a comparative overview of postcommunist literary strategies across national borders. For advanced undergraduates, this book will provide a highly informative, always clear and interesting textbook on the intersections between politics and culture, markets and society. Reading East European literature may suddenly become relevant again."
Vitaly Chernetsky | Russian Review
"Ambitious, bold, and engagingly written; it will serve as a helrful introduction to the recent cultural poitics of the region. . . . A book that will not leave its readers indifferent, and will likely provoke impassioned response from some of them--and this is surely a remarkable accomplishment for a scholarly monograph."
1. The Writer as National Hero                                     
2. 1989–2: The End of the Golden Age               
3. Writers and Politics: Triumph, Tragedy, and Farce      
4. Writers and Nationalism                                            
5. The New Internationalism in East European Literature
6. Writers and Journalism                                              
7. Confronting Transition Head-On                                
8. Learning to Love Popular Fiction                               
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