The Russian author Nikolay Ostrovsky's (1904– 1936) 1936 novel (compiled from an earlier serialization), How the Steel Was Tempered, is an important contribution to the literary genre of the larger Socialist Realist movement. More than just a piece of fiction, it is designed to advance the greater cause of internationalism, democratic centralism, and militant revolution in the cause of working-class solidarity.
The novel tells the story of Pavel Korchagin, a Bolshevik soldier during the Russian Civil War, and his lover ,Tonia Toumanova. Their background and relationship closely parallel the theories of dialectical materialism and pre-revisionist Marxism.
Korchagin's lover, Toumanova, is not herself a member of the proletariat. Born into a family of wealthy means, Toumanova rejects the artificiality of class imposed by the bourgeois and ruling elite and treats all persons with an egalitarian mindset. In the book, this is juxtaposed against the attitudes of Toumanova's friends. The romantic union of Toumanova and Korchagin represents the subjugation and ultimate destruction of constructed class divisions and the exhortation of the greater cause of unity among the workers and peasants.