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Bolshevik Festivals, 1917-1920
by James Von Geldern
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In the early years of the USSR, socialist festivals--events entailing enormous expense and the deployment of thousands of people--were inaugurated by the Bolsheviks. Avant-garde canvases decorated the streets, workers marched, and elaborate mass spectacles were staged. Why, with a civil war raging and an economy in ruins, did the regime sponsor such spectacles?
In this first comprehensive investigation of the way festivals helped build a new political culture, James von Geldern examines the mass spectacles that captured the Bolsheviks' historical vision. Spectacle directors borrowed from a tradition that included tsarist pomp, avant-garde theater, and popular celebrations. They transformed the ideology of revolution into a mythologized sequence of events that provided new foundations for the Bolsheviks' claim to power.
About the Author
James von Geldern is Assistant Professor in the Department of German and Russian at Macalester College.
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