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Engineers of the Soul

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Engineers of the Soul

Frank Westerman

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$27.95


ISBN 13: 9781590200872
Trim Size: 5 3/8 x 8
Hardcover
Overlook
4/28/11

Product Description

Frank Westerman draws the reader into the euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality were bent to radically new purposes.

Writers of renown, described by Stalin as “engineers of the soul,” were encouraged to sing the praises of canal and dam construction under titles such as Energy and The Hydraulic Power Station. However, their enthusiasm—spontaneous and idealistic at first— soon became an obligatory song of praise as the massive waterworks led to slavery and destruction in the service of a deluded totalitarian society. On the dilemma of the Soviet writers, which he faced alongside contemporaries such as Maxim Gorky, Isaak Babel, and Boris Pasternake, novelist Konstantin Paustovsky wrote: "It is easy to die a hero’s death, but it is difficult to live a hero’s life." Combining investigative journalism with literary history, Westerman examines the books and lives of writers caught in the wheels of the system.



Frank Westerman was born in 1964 and lived and worked in Moscow as correspondent for the leading Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Westerman is the author of seven books and his work has been published in more than fifteen languages. He lives in Amsterdam.



Praise for Engineers of the Soul:

"Fascinating…In addition to tracing the Soviet style and telling the stories of individual writers, Westerman also follows the routes these authors traveled to gather material for their works." --The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Westerman writes a detailed and enthralling account of his journey through Soviet literature including discovering the revolution's best kept secrets while trying to appreciate the talented writers who created a web of deceit in the name of success." --Publishers Weekly

“[E]ngagingly written and extensively researched, the book covers compelling historical and literary ground. “ --The Sunday Times

“Brilliant, illuminating and rich.” --Literary Review

“Frank Westerman combines investigative journalism with literary history to tell the story of two journeys –– one literal, one imaginary –– through contemporary Russia and through Soviet-era literature.” --Publishers Weekly Spring Announcements

"An insightful history of the lives, times and works of some authors now virtually forgotten in the West, and a valuable addition to the study of Soviet letters." -- Kirkus

"Fascinating…In addition to tracing the Soviet style and telling the stories of individual writers, Westerman also follows the routes these authors traveled to gather material for their works." --The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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