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The Readers of Novyi Mir


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About the Author

Denis Kozlov is Assistant Professor of History at Dalhousie University.


Writing to the papers was a surprisingly common activity in the USSR. It brought results: in the 1930s, a reader's letter was either printed or sent, as unprintable, to the NKVD so that the author could be dealt with. After Stalin's death, at least for readers of Novyi mir, there was no danger of the author being suppressed together with his or her letter. Given the paucity of outlets to express feelings and views, the 12,000 letters to Novyi mir that Kozlov has studied give unprecedented insight into the often confused and contradictory reactions aroused by the revelations, however guarded, of the horrors and lies of the past... Kozlov's book becomes not just an excellent study of a Soviet journal, its readers and letter-writers and the editorial responses they received, but also of a very complex and eventually admirable man [poet Aleksandr Tvardovsky, chief editor of Novyi mir for much of the 1950s and all of the 1960s] torn between his inner knowledge and his sense of duty.
-- Donald Rayfield * Literary Review *
Kozlov shows us how ordinary citizens reacted to the Thaw and how they came to regard the entire Soviet order and the legacy of the Stalinist years. Using the readers of Novyi mir's own words, he demonstrates that a skeptical view of the Soviet past was far more widespread than most have previously believed. It was not just a few writers who were expressing dissident views; the society as a whole was changing. -- Barry Scherr, Dartmouth College
The Readers of Novyi Mir represents a major breakthrough in our knowledge and understanding of postwar Soviet literature. Drawing on a treasure-trove of letters to the most important Soviet 'thick journal' of the time, it offers both new information and insightful commentary on readers, writers, editors, and important controversies. Absolutely indispensable for anyone interested in a beyond-the-cliches view of this fascinating period. -- William Mills Todd III, Harvard University
With the opening of the archives of the journal and of its bureaucratic keepers, Kozlov gained access to tens of thousands of unpublished letters from readers as well as the records of editorial meetings and accounts of the authorities scrambling to respond to the latest controversies. This fine history reveals the society-changing power of what Kozlov calls 'the relationship between texts and readers.' -- Robert Legvold * Foreign Affairs *

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