Drawing on contemporary critical theory as well as postmodern post-Soviet literature and film, Lilya Kaganovsky discusses the ways Stalinist socialist realist fiction, and in particular, Nikolai Ostrovskii's How the Steel Was Tempered, articulates the “dominant fiction” of Stalinism: that is, the relationship between heroism, male subjectivity, power, and bodily integrity. Positing two models of exemplary masculinity (the healthy and virile Stalinist subject on the one hand, and the wounded, mutilated, blind, and paralyzed, but nonetheless, celebrated male subject on the other) this essay seeks to understand what purpose bodily mutilation serves in Stalinist texts. By examining Pavka Korchagin's insatiable desire to keep returning to the “ranks” of the party despite the toll each return takes on his body, Kaganovsky points to the mechanisms of power and pleasure at work in socialist realist texts that, in turn, reflect the cultural fantasy of Stalinism— the (un)making of the New Soviet Man.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-596
Number of pages20
JournalSlavic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


  • SOVIET Union
  • POLITICS in literature
  • POLITICS in motion pictures
  • SOCIALISM in literature


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