cover image Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia After Communism

Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia After Communism

Masha Gessen / Author Verso $60 (256p) ISBN 978-1-85984-841-8

With keen understanding of the Russian ethos and of the conflicts between the Westernizers and Slavophiles, freelance journalist Gessen, a Russian emigre who has now returned home, tackles the venue of how her country's intelligentsia survived with integrity in the USSR, and what today's climate augurs for them, especially those who came of age during the 1970s. She broods on how the honorable arrange their lives in a dishonorable society. Under Communism the collective conscience of intellectuals directed that personal ethics could be preserved only in certain kinds of jobs, such as a watchman in a non-strategic industry; some found refuge in non-crucial fields of scholarship like mathematics and in minor research institutes. Many of them were novelists, playwrights, poets. The people discussed in this book are not the much-publicized dissidents, and their names are often unfamiliar, other than the likes of Andrei Sakharov and the Orthodox priest Alexander Men, whose moral weight was viewed as heroic. In the New Russia many of the intellectuals have become successful entrepreneurs; several turned to politics but with limited effectiveness. Less adaptable, or perhaps simply apathetic, are those born later: among the highly educated in their 30s, one in three is unemployed, as are half of all recent college graduates. United under Communism, when the Party fell, the opposition intelligentsia splintered and the ""once-glorious concept"" disintegrated. Gessen assesses the new times with a stimulating and instructive new perspective. (June)