Joseph Stalin Criticism - Essay

Michael Karpovich (essay date 1934)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of 'Leninism,' in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 4, 1934, pp. 634-36.

[In the following review, Karpovich finds Leninism valuable because of its contemporaneity with Stalin 's early years in power but otherwise finds the theories espoused "monotonous" and unoriginal.]

Those interested in political theory will not find anything new in this collection of Stalin's articles and speeches Leninism. He himself does not claim authorship of new and original ideas. His position is that of a faithful interpreter of the revelation, a guardian of orthodoxy. The fundamentals of the dogma cannot be questioned, and discussion is permissible...

(The entire section is 1017 words.)

Walter Sandelius (essay date 1936)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of 'Marxism and the National and Colonial Question,' in The American Political Science Review, Vol. XXX, No. 5, October, 1936, pp. 1026-27.

[In the following review, Sandelius finds Stalin in Marxism and the National and Colonial Question "persuasive" and "orderly. "]

Among the publications prepared by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute appears now, in English, Marxism and the National and Colonial Question by Joseph Stalin, being a collection of articles, reports, and speeches, ranging in date from 1913 to 1935, on the subject—one may say—of Stalin's most distinctive interest and experience. A rather central thread appears...

(The entire section is 437 words.)

Edmund Wilson (essay date 1937)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin, Trotsky, and Willi Schlamm," in From the Uncollected Edmund Wilson, Ohio University Press, 1995, pp. 217-27.

[In the following essay, which was originally published in the Nation in 1937, Wilson provides a critical examination of the report of the Trotsky Commission.]

The report of the Trotsky Commission is a remarkably interesting document, which makes one realize the inadequacy, if not frivolity, of the newspaper accounts of the Mexican hearings.

In regard to the question of Trotsky's guilt on the charges brought against him at the Moscow trials, these hearings made public a great deal of material which helps to establish his...

(The entire section is 2879 words.)

W. J. Oudendyk (essay date 1938)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The History of the Civil War in the U. S. S. R.,' in International Affairs, Vol. XVII, 1938, pp. 581-82.

[In the following review, Oudendyk finds The History of the Civil War in the U.S.S.R. interesting but unfortunately too biased to leave the reader with anything but a distorted picture.]

A New generation has grown up in Soviet Russia of men and women who have never lived under any other régime. The old generation has practically disappeared. The days of revolution and civil war are now considered sufficiently remote for the successful partisan of those days to write a history of them as seen exclusively from his point of view. Much if not...

(The entire section is 789 words.)

C. D. Burns (essay date 1941)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of 'Leninism,' in Ethics: An International Journal of Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy, Vol. LII, 1941-42, pp. 118-20.

[In the following review, Burns finds the English translation of Stalin's Leninism a valuable source for Westerners studying the socio-political climate of the Soviet Union.]

This volume [Leninism] is an authorized translation of the eleventh Russian edition of Problems of Leninism. It contains speeches and articles which were not in the two-volume edition of 1933 or in the volume, also called Leninism, published in 1938. But the more important speeches of Stalin, included in the earlier English...

(The entire section is 760 words.)

Edmund Wilson (essay date 1946)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Trotsky's Stalin," in From the Uncollected Edmund Wilson, Ohio University Press, 1995, pp. 231-40.

[In the following essay, which first appeared in the New Yorker in 1946, Wilson reviews the English translation of Leon Trotsky's biography Stalin, finding it a volume of great historical and political importance.]

Leon Trotsky, during the later years of his exile, set out to write a life of Lenin. The first volume of this biography, which ends with Lenin's graduation from law school, was brought out, in a French translation, in 1936, but Trotsky did not get very much further with it. Needing money, he was persuaded by a New York publisher, on the...

(The entire section is 2656 words.)

Åke Sandler (essay date 1953)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin and Hitler: A Lesson in Comparison," in The Pacific Spectator, Vol. VII, No. 2, Spring, 1953, pp. 152-66.

[In the following essay, Sandler argues that Stalin's Soviet Union more closely resembled Hitler's Germany than the socialist society proposed by Karl Marx.]

One day en route to Tiflis a guest of the Soviet government, André Gide, stopped at Gori, a small village where Josef Stalin was born. To the great French writer, who for years had followed the "experiment" in Russia with enthusiasm, the arrival in Gori was an occasion charged with emotional impact. Impulsively he decided to send the Russian leader a telegram expressing his gratitude for the...

(The entire section is 5534 words.)

Ronald L. Meek (essay date 1953)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin as an Economist," in The Review of Economic Studies, Vol. XXI, No. 56, 1953-54, pp. 232-39.

[In the following essay, Meek examines Stalin's economic theory.]

Whenever great changes in basic economic and social institutions are brought about, the theoreticians of the new order begin seeking to express its experience in generalised form. And sometimes—but only very rarely—it happens that the political leaders who usher in the changes are themselves men with a taste for theoretical generalisation, in which case both the new order and the theory of the new order may come to be constructed under the guidance of one and the same hand. This was the...

(The entire section is 4827 words.)

The World Today (essay date 1956)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Anatomy of Tyranny: Khrushchev's Attack on Stalin," in The World Today, Vol. 12, No. 6, June, 1956, pp. 265-71.

[In the following essay, the anonymous writer discusses Khrushchev's criticism of Stalin's policies.]

Rarely has a document aroused more interest and speculation than the paper issued by the State Department purporting to be the text of the speech delivered on 25 February 1956 by Mr Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to its twentieth Congress. The United States Government does not vouch for its authenticity; nevertheless it has been received everywhere as plausible; it is in keeping with the tenor of statements...

(The entire section is 2894 words.)

Robert D. Warth (essay date 1960)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin and the Cold War: A Second Look," in The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. LIX, No. 1, Winter, 1960, pp. 1-12.

[In the following essay, Warth contends that Stalin's notorious personal defectsincluding vanity, deceit, and brutality—did not necessarily have a negative impact on his political skills or his leadership ability.]

The image of Joseph Stalin in the Western world was never a pleasant one—except, obviously, during the war years when the heroic achievements of the Red Army in the common cause lent a glow of enchantment to the Soviet Union and its paternal "Uncle Joe." Through the prism of the cold war his image was refracted to become...

(The entire section is 4080 words.)

William Henry Chamberlin (essay date 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Khrushchev's War with Stalin's Ghost," in The Russian Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, January, 1962, pp. 3-10.

[In the following essay, Chamberlin examines the possible motives behind Nikita Khrushchev's decision in the early 1960s to openly denounce Stalin and his tyranny by having Stalin's body exhumed and removed from its exalted spot next to Vladimir Lenin's.]

There was high historical drama and some political risk in Nikita Khrushchev's decision to carry his war with the ghost of Josef Stalin to the point of removing the embalmed corpse of the deceased dictator from what was, until recently, the Lenin-Stalin Mausoleum, the great secular shrine of the Soviet...

(The entire section is 2415 words.)

Antón Donoso (essay date 1965)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin's Contribution to Soviet Philosophy," International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. V, No. 2, May, 1965, pp. 267-303.

[In the following essay, Donoso traces Stalin 's place in the development of Soviet philosophy, arguing that his most significant contribution was "his ability to bring theory in line with practice. "]

It has been said that "throughout the whole of the Stalinist period Stalin himself was the only person in the Soviet Union who ever dared to say anything new."1 This was especially true in the field of philosophy. The history of Dialectical Materialism in the Soviet Union from the death of Lenin on January 21, 1924 until the...

(The entire section is 15540 words.)

Thomas B. Larson (essay date 1968)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Dismantling the Cults of Stalin and Khrushchev," in The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. XXI, No. 3, September, 1968, pp. 383-90.

[In the following essay, Larson examines the differences in retrospective opinion of the leadership of Stalin and his successor, Nikita Khrushchev.]

Whatever else Communist power brought to Russia, it did not guarantee rule by "good" leaders. The toppling from their pedestals of Stalin and then Khrushchev forced the introduction of a very sobering note into the treatment of the past history of the Soviet regime. The present top leaders can point to no honorable predecessors in the chief party and government posts for the entire...

(The entire section is 3978 words.)

Edith Rogovin Frankel (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Literary Policy in Stalin's Last Year," in Soviet Studies, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, July, 1976, pp. 391-405.

[In the following essay, Frankel discusses the period of "liberalization" regarding literary activity during Stalin's last year in power.]

In recent years Western scholars have been deeply interested in determining the nature and degree of change which has taken place in the Soviet Union since Stalin's death. Numerous works have analysed and assessed the transformation of post-Stalin Russia: changes in economic policy, in the effectiveness of group pressures on policy-making, in the use and role of terror, and in the area of public discourse, debate, and...

(The entire section is 7069 words.)

Albert Parry (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin's Archipelago," in Terrorism: From Robespierre to Arafat, by Albert Parry, The Vanguard Press, Inc., 1976, pp. 187-202.

[In the following essay, Parry discusses changes in the policy of terror instituted by Stalin, most notably the policy of arresting and executing loyal followers of Stalinism in addition to those openly against it.]

From Lenin and Trotsky the path of terror led to Stalin and Stalin's heirs. Over these decades the character and organization of Soviet terror underwent certain changes. The transformation can be traced through the vast literature by survivors and scholars, available not in Russian alone but also in other languages,...

(The entire section is 7490 words.)

Robert C. Tucker (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: 'The Rise of Stalin's Personality Cult," in The American Historical Review, Vol. 84, No. 2, April, 1979, pp. 347-66.

[In the following essay, Tucker discusses the reasons behind Stalin's rise to the status of cult figure despite the objections of earlier Soviet leaders, particularly Lenin, to public adulation.]

The cult of Lenin, which Lenin himself opposed and managed to keep in check until incapacitated by a stroke in March 1923, subsequently became a pervasive part of Soviet public life. No single cause explains its rise. Undoubtedly, the Bolsheviks genuinely venerated their vozhd' as the man whose personal leadership had been critically important for...

(The entire section is 9883 words.)

Susan Layton (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Mind of the Tyrant: Tolstoj's Nicholas and Solzenicyn's Stalin," in Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 23, No. 4, Winter, 1979, pp. 479-90.

[In the following essay, Layton finds parallels between Leo Tolstoy's portrayal of Czar Nicholas I in Xadzi-Murat (1912) and Aleksandr Solzenicyn's depiction of Stalin in The First Circle (1968).]

Repeatedly Solzenicyn has paid tribute to Tolstoj as the grand master of Realism in the nineteenth century and as a philosopher concerned with the moral service of art. The concept of the artist as teacher and conscience of the nation has acquired major importance for Solzenicyn and has given particular...

(The entire section is 5490 words.)

George Urban with W. Averell Harriman (interview date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Was Stalin (the Terrible) Really a 'Great Man'?: A Conversation with W. Averell Harriman," in Encounter, Vol. LVII, No. 5, November, 1981, pp. 20-38.

[In the following interview, Urban discusses with Harriman, who was Franklin Roosevelt's special ambassador to Churchill and Stalin from 1941 to 1946, Stalin's behavior and activities during World War II, particularly his wartime leadership abilities.]

W. Averell Harriman was born in November 1891 and, after the usual "Eastern Establishment stations" (Groton, Yale), made a career first in the railroad business which his father, the pioneer of the Illinois Central and the Union Pacific, had established, and then...

(The entire section is 16583 words.)

Gregory Freidin (essay date 1982)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Mandel'shtam's 'Ode to Stalin': History and Myth," in The Russian Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, October, 1982, pp. 400-26.

[In the following essay, Freidin examines the mysterious circumstances surrounding the writing and publication of Osip Mandel'shtam's "Ode to Stalin."]

If manuscripts do not burn, as Mikhail Bulgakov once suggested, they at least get hot sitting in the fire, which is more or less what happened to the "Ode to Stalin" by Osip Mandel'shtam.1 The first indication that Mandel'shtam might have written something like the "Ode" came from Anna Akhmatova's recollections of Mandel'shtam and had the effect of a minor literary...

(The entire section is 12661 words.)

Richard Nickson (essay date 1984)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Lure of Stalinism: Bernard Shaw and Company," in The Midwest Quarterly, Vol. XXV, No. 4, Summer, 1984, pp. 416-33.

[In the following essay, Nickson uses an examination of the adherence of George Bernard Shaw to Soviet-style communism under Stalin as an example of such adherence among many artists and intellectuals of the time.]

"I am not a fascist; I am, and have been all throughout my political life, a Communist." That was George Bernard Shaw in 1935. But ten years later he was still having to answer the question "Are you a Fascist, Mr. Shaw?" Patiently replying to a newspaper reporter, Shaw said: "No: I am a Communist. That is, I advocate national...

(The entire section is 5271 words.)

Daniel Rancour-Laferriere (essay date 1985)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Deranged Birthday Boy: Solzhenitsyn's Portrait of Stalin in The First Circle'," in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, Vol. XVIII, No. 3, Summer, 1985, pp. 61-72.

[In the following essay, Rancour-Laferriere attempts a psychoanalytical reading of the character Stalin in Solzenicyn's The First Circle.]

Since Alexander Solzhenitsyn personally experienced the concentration camps of Stalinist Russia, it is not surprising that his extended portrait of Stalin in The First Circle should be "bitter" and "sarcastic."1 What is surprising is that this portrait nonetheless succeeds on an esthetic level and is convincing...

(The entire section is 5676 words.)

Rosalind Marsh (essay date 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Image of Stalin in Soviet Literature During Stalin's Lifetime," in Images of Dictatorship: Portraits of Stalin in Literature, Routledge, 1989, pp. 17-53.

[In the following essay, Marsh reviews portrayals of Stalin in Soviet literature written and published during his leadership.]

With the exception of Lenin,1 no historical figure in modern times has been the subject of as many literary and dramatic portrayals as Joseph Stalin. Many writers in the USSR, including both hack writers and the best writers in the country, have chosen—or been forced—to treat this subject. In Stalin's time Soviet writers were obliged to contribute to the...

(The entire section is 15986 words.)

Margaret Ziolkowski (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Modern Demonology: Some Literary Stalins," in Slavic Review, Vol. 50, No. 1, Spring, 1991, pp. 59-69.

[In the following essay, Ziolkowski examines the depiction of Stalin in literature published both in and out of the Soviet Union, arguing that such literary representations are particularly important in the absence of accurate historical and biographical documents on Stalin.]

The publication of Anatolii Rybakov's Deti Arbata (1987) was heralded with much fanfare both in the Soviet Union and abroad. In the novel Rybakov seeks to capture the essence of Stalinism as it affected the day-to-day existence of Soviet citizens, a theme that commands intense...

(The entire section is 6716 words.)

Lionel Abel (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "On the Crimes of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler," in Partisan Review, Vol. LVIII, No. 1, Winter, 1991, pp. 78-87.

[In the following essay, Abel rejects Marxism and national socialism as the moral doctrines they were purported to be by their adherents and focuses the blame for crimes and brutality committed for these causes on those who, Abel believes, mistakenly held them up as rooted in morality.]

In the late summer of 1945, I took issue with James Burnham (in Dwight Macdonald's Politics) for having maintained earlier that year (in the January issue of Partisan Review) that Stalin was the logical and appropriate successor to Lenin in the Communist...

(The entire section is 4768 words.)

Russell J. Reising (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Lionel Trilling, 'The Liberal Imagination,' and the Emergence of the Cultural Discourse of Anti-Stalinism," in Boundary 2, Vol. 20, No. 1, Spring, 1993, pp. 94-124.

[In the following essay, Reising investigates the later impact on American cultural studies of the "discourse of anti-Stalinism" that emerged in the 1950s alongside the study of Soviet communism in the American academy, exemplified by Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination.]

In the concluding remarks to her excellent study of McCarthyism and the universities, Ellen W. Schrecker reiterates one of her central points—that university professors were not only not "isolated from the political...

(The entire section is 12297 words.)

Piers Gray (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Totalitarian logic: Stalin on linguistics," in Critical Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1, Spring, 1993, pp. 16-36.

[In the following essay, Gray examines Stalin 's position on linguistics in Marxism and Problems of Linguistics.]

No, no: arrests vary very widely in form. In 1926 Irma Mendel, a Hungarian, obtained through the Comintern two front-row tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre. Interrogator Klegel was courting her at the time and she invited him to go with her. They sat through the show very affectionately, and when it was over he took her—straight to the Lubyanka.

(Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago,...

(The entire section is 9077 words.)

Eugene D. Genovese (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stalin's Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936," in The New Republic, Vol. 213* No. 10, September 4, 1995, p. 34.

[In the following review, Genovese finds Stalin's Letters to Molotov an important source to understanding the Soviet ruler's motivations and methods.]

In 1969, Viacheslav Molotov released eighty-six letters written to him by Josef Stalin between 1925 and 1936. Seventy-one of those letters, which now appear in English in Stalin's Letters to Molotov, were written between 1925 and 1930, years of bitter intraparty struggles and the onset of the bloody collectivization of agriculture and forced-march industrialization. The Bolsheviks were building...

(The entire section is 3429 words.)

Roberta Reeder (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Anna Akhmatova: The Stalin Years," in New England Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter, 1997, pp. 105-25.

[In the following essay, Reeder examines the poetry, little known outside of Russia, written by Anna Akhmatova during Stalin's years in power.]

For a long time now Anna Akhmatova has been known in her own country as one of the most gifted Russian poets of the twentieth century. Yet in the West she is still relatively unknown.

For many the only poems by Akhmatova that have been read and recited have been the love poems which she wrote as a young Russian aristocrat at the turn of the century. These poems have always attracted large numbers of...

(The entire section is 9174 words.)