To conclude our celebration of Banned Books Week we are taking a look at a different type of censorship. This one does not come from an authoritarian bureaucrat, worried about the public’s response against the regime; but from the cultural elite, in league with the political power of the day, maintaining the status quo in art and literature. Such as is the case of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, whose works were only published in 1989, after being discovered in a Soviet archive. Here’s Adam Thirwell on the matter from his review of Memories of the Future:
"In 1924 a collection of Krzhizhanovsky’s stories, Fairy Tales for Wunderkinder, was accepted for publication, but the publishing house went bankrupt before the book came out. And so begins the sad history of Krzhizhanovsky’s impossible publications. In 1928 and 1929 he wrote more stories, a screenplay, and a play. None of these appeared in public. On April 23, 1932, the Central Committee of the Communist Party created the Union of Soviet Writers, with Maxim Gorky appointed the first chairman. In the same year, Gorky stated that stories like Krzhizhanovsky’s ‘would hardly find a publisher,’ and if they did, and managed to ‘dislocate a few young minds,’ he added, would this really be desirable?
In effect, his opinion made Krzhizhanovsky definitively unpublishable. The next year, Krzhizhanovsky’s Academia edition of Shakespeare was canceled. In 1934, another play, The Priest and the Lieutenant, went unstaged. A collection of stories that was provisionally accepted by the State Publishing House was stopped by the censors. That year, the First Congress of the Writers’ Union set the terms of socialist realism. Gorky’s speech, ‘Soviet Literature,’ contained this helpful sketch of future subject matter:
'Life, as asserted by socialist realism, is deeds, creativeness, the aim of which is the uninterrupted development of the priceless individual faculties of man, with a view to his victory over the forces of nature, for the sake of his health and longevity, for the supreme joy of living on an earth which, in conformity with the steady growth of his requirements, he wishes to mould throughout into a beautiful dwelling place for mankind, united into a single family.'”