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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Literary heritage of Panteleymon Romanov, 1883-1938 Gattinger, Anna

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to establish the importance of Panteleymon Romanov in Soviet literature. Even though Romanov began writing many years before the Revolution, he became known as an author only after the Revolution when he published "Childhood", his first work, in 1920. Little success attended this effort. However, like any true artist he was not interested in writing merely to gain fame, but more to express his philosophy of life. He adopted the realistic style of the classical writers of the 19th Century and applied it to the conditions created by the Revolution and post-Revolutionary period. Thus he mirrored the life around him. At the time of War-Communism, 1917-1921, when most of the writers were engaged in political and internal struggle to define the path that the new literature was to take, Romanov wrote several volumes of humorous short stories on how the peasants greeted the political changes. By rewriting these humorous stories in a serious vein, he incorporated them into his greatest work under the title "Rus". His stories about the younger members of society and their attitudes toward love were also very popular. In these stories on love Romanov described the new attitude towards sex relationships between young people, the position of the unmarried mother, and the new family life without the sacrament of the church. His best stories on this theme are: "Without Cherry Blossom", "The Big Family", "The Right to Love" and the novel "The New Commandment". These were all widely read and discussed among the Komsomols and npn-Komsomols alike. Towards the end of the N.E.P. period, Romanov became more interested in the social conduct of the old intelligentsia as applied to its relationship with the new government. One of his best known stories of this period is "The Right to Live" which deals with a non-Party writer who tried unsuccessfully to conform to the demands of the Party. Romanov has developed this theme further in his novel "Comrade Kislyakov". In these two novels, Romanov expressed his regret that intellectuals did not have heroic qualities, energy, and will power to fight for their political and human rights. Romanov has often been regarded as a controversial writer both by the Soviet and the emigreé critics. The latter accused Romanov of slandering the morals of the old intelligentsia, while most of the former accused him of being blind to the growth of the Soviet masses because he had not accepted the Revolution. In studying literary life in the first decade of the Soviet government, one can say that Romanov and his works occupied a singular position of importance in Soviet literature. Romanov's style being easy and old-fashioned appealed to the masses. The humorous incidents in his stories, unlike those of Zoshchenko or O'Henry, follow one another continuously. Romanov also differs from Zoshchenko in the description of his heroes. Whereas Zoshchenko emphasises the individual characters, Romanov, on the contrary, develops the importance of the people, as a whole. He can truly be regarded as a popular sociological writer. After the Revolution, Romanov took the position of an independent creative writer and he maintained it as such until 1936. He insisted on his freedom to write what his conscience dictated and he never changed his position. For this reason a conflict between himself and the Soviet government was inevitable. After the confiscation of his work, "Comrade Kislyakov" in 1930, the doors to the publishing houses were closed for Romanov. However, through the intervention of Bukharin, the ban was lifted in 1936 when some of his short sketches about his excursion to the Molotov automobile factory in Nizhni-Novgorod were published. When Romanov died in 1938 of heart disease, there was no obituary notice from the Writers1 Union. Thus a bright star faded from the galaxy of Soviet literature, without any literary astronomer noticing it. Even today none of his works is published in the U.S.S.R. and he is not counted among those who have made a worthy contribution to Soviet letters.

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