Posts Tagged 'aesthetic'

Stalin and Shostakovich, by Solomon Volkov

This account of the perilous, unremitting battles between Stalin and Shostakovich charts an engrossing history which extends well beyond the book’s protagonists. Lacking incisive political perspective, Volkov nonetheless unearths a wealth of detail on the whole structure of state-regulated cultural production during the Stalin era. With disaster an ever-present threat, figures such as Shostakovich, Eisenstein and Pasternak engaged in a compex set of cat-and-mouse relations: often barely surviving through a combination of guile and Stalin’s uncertain desire for international recognition. Incorporating fascinating analysis of Shostakovich’s key works, Volkov’s readable fusion of the musicological and the social is a clear success. AB

Little, Brown and Company; 2004; 384 pages

Militant Modernism, by Owen Hatherley

When devastating capitalist crisis offers a justification for the savage intensification of market discipline (for the masses), to counter-attack on either political or aesthetic grounds may seem audacious enough. To do so on both at once is outrageous and, in the case of Militant Modernism, outrageously brilliant – with thrilling style and a swaggering contempt Hatherley dismisses the pathetic unoriginality of new private housing, market-fetishising artistic practices and much else besides. He serves up a newly emancipating rediscovery of socialist modernism in public housing, planning, film and sexuality and writes with exhilarating confidence and astonishing thematic breadth: “Forward! Never forgetting.” AB

Zero Books; 2009; 160 pages


Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell

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