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Regular version of the site

Article

«За подлинного Шекспира»: два советских юбилея

Вопросы литературы. 2017. № 2. С. 316-379.

The article analyses the mechanisms of the making of the Shakespeare legend in the USSR during his two anniversaries (in 1939 and 1941) through unpublished material from the archives related to the celebrations. It also reconstructs the schedule of events dedicated to Shakespeare which were orchestrated by the Cabinet (Department) of Shakespeare and Western European classics and chaired by the preeminent Moscow-based scholar M. Morozov. The transcript of the government’s discussion of the anniversary and the plan for nation-wide festive events is published for the first time in the appendix to the article. The reestablishment of Classicism in the 1930s opened up an opportunity for turning Shakespeare into an emblematic figure with a powerful range of ideological and political messages suitable for that period. An ideologically updated Shakespeare was proclaimed a ‘teacher’ in ‘the fight for the new culture’ and swiftly appropriated by the Marxist-Leninist theory of the class struggle. Quotes from Shakespearean tragedies and chronicles became popular tools of totalitarian rhetoric. In this new environment, and hailed as a modern Soviet classic and citizen, Shakespeare morphed into a symbol of misappropriation of the world’s artistic legacy and exemplified the myth of the validity of Socialist culture.