The ‘new god-builders’

  • Irena Maryniak
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


In the years immediately following the widespread but unsuccessful revolutionary action of 1905-7, some of Russia’s leading socialist intellectuals toyed with the notion of promoting revolutionary ideology in the form of religious faith. By this, they hoped to encourage an atmosphere of shared purpose, excitement, union and self-denial in an increasingly uncertain and divided revolutionary movement. The ‘god-building’ theory, as it was known, received only limited support among Russian social democrats, and was stifled within less than ten years largely as a result of Lenin’s personal intervention. It has taken more than seventy years for a modified form of the same idea to re-emerge in Soviet writing, but since the mid-1970s a new kind of god-building has found its way into novels by three well-established writers frequently associated with the ‘village prose’ school:1 Pëtr Proskurin, Chingiz Aitmatov and Vladimir Tendriakov. Their work is largely devoted to traditionally ‘village’ themes such as the protection of the environment, of cultural tradition and family ties; but some examples of their writing also emphasise specially the need to protect and preserve as a supreme Absolute the principle of the strong, undivided social collective.


Religious Faith Russian Literature Collective Consciousness Creative Power Collective Energy 
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London 1990

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  • Irena Maryniak

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