Engineers of the Soul
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Engineers of the Soul : In the Footsteps of Stalin's Writers

By (author) Frank Westerman , Translated by Sam Garrett

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Engineers of the Soul draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as 'engineers of the soul', were encouraged to sing the praises of construction. But the initial enthusiasm of Soviet writers faltered as these colossal structures led to slavery and destruction, and they were obliged to labour on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society. Frank Westerman sweeps the reader along to the dramatic final confrontation between writers and engineers that signalled the end of the Soviet empire.

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  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 22mm | 222.26g
  • 01 Dec 2011
  • VINTAGE
  • London
  • English
  • 0099461641
  • 9780099461647
  • 657,848

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Author Information

Frank Westerman was born in 1964 and lived and worked in Moscow from 1997 to 2002 as correspondent for the leading Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Westerman is the author of five highly praised books. His work has been published in more than ten languages and has won many prizes.

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Review quote

"A compelling combination of literary criticism and travelogue" Scotland on Sunday "Westerman is a very fine writer and his stories, characters and digressions are as delicately wrought as a watch mechanism. Like Bruce Chatwin and the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, he has elevated the authorial journalist-traveller into a brilliant, magic storyteller; like them he seeks out the smaller, human-sized epics that play out their tragedies against the backdrop of history" Sunday Times "Westerman completes a portrait at once engaging and devastating. As such, it comes closer than any conventional literary history to defining the elusive Socialist Realism." Independent "An extraordinarily compelling, imaginative and subtle mixture of history, literary criticism and travelogue" History Today "Brilliant, illuminating and rich" Literary Review

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Back cover copy

Engineers of the Soul draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as ‘engineers of the soul’, were encouraged to sing the praises of construction. But the initial enthusiasm of Soviet writers faltered as these colossal structures led to slavery and destruction, and they were obliged to labour on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society. Frank Westerman sweeps the reader along to the dramatic final confrontation between writers and engineers that signalled the end of the Soviet empire. 'The fate of Soviet writers under Stalin is movingly explored in this outstanding mix of travel book and literary study, which has about it more than a hint of Bruce Chatwin... Westerman has elevated the authorial journalist-traveller into a brilliant, magic storyteller' Sunday Times 'Brilliant, illuminating and rich' Literary Review 'Westerman completes a portrait at once engaging and devastating. As such, it comes closer than any conventional literary history to defining the elusive Socialist Realism' Independent 'This is a terrific read, with vivid, well-researched and reflective insights into Soviet society' Irish Times Also by Frank Westerman: [jpeg of Ararat]

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