The Red Atlantis
Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism
Philadelphia Book Clinic Certificate of Award, 1999
Association of American University Presses Book Jacket Award, 1999
Publication: Apr 00
Publication: Nov 98
5 x 9
A delightful and witty examination of Communism as an art formRead an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).
For most of the twentieth century, American and European intellectual life was defined by its fascination with a particular utopian vision. Both the artistic and political vanguards were spellbound by the Communist promise of a new human eraso much so that its political terrors were rationalized as a form of applied evolution and its collapse hailed as the end of history.
The Red Atlantis argues that Communism produced a complex culture with a dialectical relation to both modernism and itself. Offering examples ranging from the Stalinist show trial to Franz Kafka's posthumous career as a dissident writer and the work of filmmakers, painters, and writers, which can be understood only as criticism of existing socialism made from within, The Red Atlantis suggests that Communism was an aesthetic projectperhaps the aesthetic project of the twentieth century.
"These essays, at once funny and heartbreaking, survey the work of Soviet and Eastern European artists, writers, and filmmakers. Hoberman is an expert gifted with high intellectual spirits, but he doesn't take cheap shots: he never lets us forget the pressures and dangers that affected even the most devoted Communists under Communism." —New Yorker
"Zooming back and forth from Berlin to Moscow to the Lower East Side, J. Hoberman has compiled the best evocation of the lost world of Jewish communism since the historian Raphael Samuel's memoir of working-class East London in New Left Review." —The Lingua Franca Book Review
"In J. Hoberman, the ruins of communist culture have found a passionate and erudite archeologist. A collection of essays on communist art, film, and literature, The Red Atlantis is an elegy for the 'Communist utopia which, in fact, never existed.'" —Dissent
"This is a superb collection of essays—deft, penetrating, erudite, witty and altogether a pleasure to read." —Washington Post
"Provocative, insightful, funny, J. Hoberman's The Red Atlantis explains how—with Philistines generally in charge—Communism, in contrast always to anti-Communism, managed to encourage some of the most interesting, most Jewish, and silliest art of the century." —Paul Buhle, co-author of Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist
"Intelligently stitched together from Hoberman's many reviews, this volume introduces readers to the lost continent of communist culture....Well documented and written with enviable verve, this provocative book should reopen old debates and spark useful reevaluations of the countless compromised masterpieces produced by well-meaning but ultimately misguided intellectuals over more than 70 turbulent years." —Choice
"...an easy book to read, but a hard one to review.... The articles were written at different times and have been thoroughly revised for publication. They all deal with Hoberman's major interests: cinema, Jews, and communism. Perhaps not surprisingly, he manages quite often to bring these three interests together." —Slavic Review
Table of Contents
Introduction: Missing...The Berlin Wall
1. "I Saw Stalin Once When I Was a Child": Socialist Realism, the Last Ism
2. Realist Socialism: Documenting the Undocumentable
3. Beyond the Pale: Soviet Jews and Soviet Jewish Cinema
4. Who Was Victor Serge (and Why Will We Have to Ask)?
5. Life in Czechoslovakia, or a Cage in Search of a Bird
6. A History of Communism in Twenty-four Scenarios
7. My Nuclear Family
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Culture and the Moving Image edited by Robert Sklar
The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.