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This review is taken from PN Review 4, Volume 4 Number 4, July - September 1978.

HISTORY HAS IRREFUTABLY PROVEN . . . Marxist-Leninist Aesthetics and Life by A. Yegorov and others, Progress Publishers (Moscow), £2.50.
Russian Writing Today edited by Robin Milner-Gulland and Martin Dewhirst, Penguin, £1.25.

Marxist-Leninist Aesthetics and Life is a collection of twenty-three essays issued, according to the publishers, to introduce the Soviet science of aesthetics to the international public. There is a certain sameness of tone to the essays due, in part, to the common fund of Marxist-Leninist assumptions shared by the writers and also to the abstract yet invocatory manner adopted. It should be stressed that there is no attempt to justify the assumptions made throughout the volume. For that one would probably be referred to the authoritative texts of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and, occasionally, Maxim Gorky, cited again and again throughout the volume.

In the more purely philosophical essays the effect of this is to parade an obscure and unfamiliar vocabulary in formation toward such trite conclusions as: 'A work of art is expressive when it conveys more than it represents' (Y. Khachikyan). At other times, though, the unspoken premisses surface in statements that hover all too complacently between the contentious and the untrue. Thus, A. Yegorov tells us, almost in passing, that 'History has irrefutably proven that socialism completely eliminates national oppression and exploitation of man by man and ensures not only legal but actual social equality for all peoples'. Meanwhile N. Leizerov remarks that 'measured off by the accelerated pace of history Soviet art, like no other art before it, passed the impartial test every time, both before its contemporaries and before tomorrow.'

The artistic method and doctrine unanimously favoured by the authors of ...

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