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Five main novels of Nikiforov : a critical discussion Rosval, Sergei James


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the five main novels of Georgii Nikiforov, "Beside the Street Lamp", (1927), "The Woman", (1929), "Into the Wind", (1930), "Unity", (1933), "The Mastercraftsmen", (1936). They will be discussed separately and comparatively, pointing out character, situation, and political developments. The unifying element throughout Nikiforov's works is his development of the old professional worker as compared with the psychological development of various contemporary (1920-1935) Soviet Bureaucrats. Nikiforov's attacks upon the role of the Communist Party is counterbalanced by his personal objectivity in presenting a vivid unfalsified representation of Soviet life during this time. The Introduction is an elaboration of the Abstract and presents the overall outline of the paper. At the same time describing Nikiforov's personal life and the internal influences that were beneficial or a hindrance, as' the case may be, in formulating Nikiforov's realism through complete disillusionment in the new state. Chapter I, "Beside the Street Lamp", describes the corrupt Soviet bureaucracy that existed during the 1920s and early 1930s. Through the bureaucrats Nikiforov is able to launch a direct attack upon the Party. He also presents a new type of individual. In the midst of the building a.new socialist state during the early N.E.P. period, the appearance of Ramzaev, a former member of the nobleman-intelligentsia class is quite startling to any Soviet reader. But Ramzaev's moral regeneration into a "first rate Communist" is constrasted with the degeneration of a Party bureaucrat. Chapter II, "The Woman", presents the role of the women in the Soviet system during the last stages of N.E.P. and into the First Five Year Plan. Nikiforov's "professional labourer type" has now slowly begun evolving and reaches its climax in this novel. The position of Trade Unions and the Party form a sub-theme. In Chapter III, "Into the Wind", Nikiforov discusses the truth concerning collectivization and the kulak question. For this he was taken to task by the Party. He portrayed the peasant question with an alarming amount of truth and did not devote it to the agricultural phase of the First Five Year Plan as did Sholokhov "(Virgin Soil Upturned)", Leonov, and the others. He also presented the "city-village" question concerning itself indirectly with collectivization and industrialization. Nikiforov developed this novel frequently by mere hints,consequently the literary value of it suffered. In contrast to "Into the Wind", Nikiforov wrote "Unity", a hastily poorly written Five Year Plan type novel depicting industrialization through the attempted adaptation of the author into this sphere of the "proletarianization" of the country. But Nikiforov failed because of complete lack of character analyses and the absence of a definite plot. The theme of complete subordination of the individual to Industrialization was the main element throughout. Chapter IV, "The Mastercraftsmen", indirectly deals with the question of Soviet reality and Christian Socialism. Nikiforov develops his professional revolutionaries against the background of the Japanese War and the 190$ Revolution. One of the most significant elements in Nikiforov's writings is his complete and final development of the ideal man, a philosopher on one hand, and the professional labourer on the other. This ideological representation is fully realized in this chapter together with an indirect representation of Stalinist Russia through this philosophical ideology. The last chapter, Chapter V, attempts to trace the line of the old professional worker and his psychology through all of Nikiforov's works. The different character types, the party bureaucrats, the professional labourers, the philosophical individual - all are discussed here. Also, Nikiforov's associations with the Trotskyite faction of the party and his sympathy toward their industrial development programme is mentioned.

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