Moscow: 1920–1921. Large octavos (25.5 × 17 cm). Original printed wrappers; 23, 36, 64 pp. First issue lacking wrappers; occasional tears and one issue with private inventory label; overall good or better.
Complete run of this Proletkult literary journal issued in three fascicles. “We ourselves need to create!” declare the editors in the first issue of the journal, asserting the idea of Aleksandr Bogdanov that was central to the Proletkult movement: only art made by the proletariat itself can accurately reflect the reality of the proletariat. The journal was to publish prose and poetry by proletarian “non-professional” writers, focusing on contributions by members of Moscow Proletkult writing workshops and helping them hone their skill. In fact, the short-lived publication suffered from the same problem of professionalization as related Proletkult publications such as Gorn (1918–1923), Kuznitsa (1920–1922), and Pereval (1922). A review of this new journal published in Kuznitsa pointed out that all the best work in the first issue is written by established writers such as Boris Arvatov (a theorist of pragmatic art) and Valerian Pletnev (leader of Moscow Proletkult and a major playwright) rather than by “workshoppers.” Founded in 1917, at a congress of creative workers’ workshops, Proletkult “began as a loose coalition of clubs, factory committees, worker’s theaters, and educational societies devoted to the cultural needs of the working class.” With support from the minister of education, Anatoly Lunacharsky, and theoretical guidance by Aleksandr Bogdanov, “by 1918 it had expanded into a national movement with a much more ambitious purpose: to define a unique proletarian culture that would inform and inspire the new society” (Lynn Mally, Culture of the Future: The Proletkult Movement in Revolutionary Russia, 1990; pp. xviii). This journal was conceived when the movement was at its zenith, and the high print run (10000 for the first issue and 5000 for the second issue) is indicative of generous financial and political support of the new publication at a time of massive paper shortages due to the ongoing Russian Civil War. The movement began to decline in 1922 after criticism from both Trotsky, who claimed that there is no such thing as purely proletarian culture, and eventually from Lenin, who saw Proletkult activities as too far reaching and thus politically dangerous. Aleksandr Zugrin (1899–1923), an avant-garde painter and member of Proletkult, designed the cubo-futurist wrappers of this publication. Zurgin was one of the top rising artists of Proletkult and designed covers for Gorn as well as numerous Proletkult poetry books in addition to this publication. The issues also contain photographs of Proletkult theater performances and contributions by S. Obradovich, V. Aleksandrovskii, V. Pletnev, St. Krivtsov, B. Arvatov. As of November 2019, KVK and OCLC only locate microform copies.
Book ID: 50390