Soviet Literature - The “Thaw”

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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“The Thaw” is the name given to the softening of official attitudes in Soviet Russia towards literature and the arts over the decade or so from 1953. The term also extends to standing for the artistic production (or at least the more liberal elements thereof) over this particular historical-cultural period. The death of Stalin (early in that year) caught the country unexpectedly, and this applied not least to its cultural life. Some slight signs of political relaxation towards the cultural scene had even begun to appear before then, but these were accompanied at the same time by highly sinister developments (the execution of the Yiddish writers; and the so-called “Doctors’ Plot”).

The Thaw period overall is usually deemed to stretch from 1953 to 1964: that is to say from the

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Citation: Cornwell, Neil. "Soviet Literature - The “Thaw”". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 July 2005 [, accessed 21 June 2024.]

1580 Soviet Literature - The “Thaw” 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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