Bestiary in the party discourse of 19401950 

Leibovich O.L. (Ekaterinburg, Perm, Russian Federation)


                page 170175


The present article covers issues associated with changes in the party language in the late Stalinist era and aims to determine the meaning expressed by the changed linguistic forms in the official communication of CPSU(B.) members in 19461953 within the current Perm Territory. In this work, the method of thick description was employed (C. Geertz). The author studied two types of materials found in the archives of regional party organisations: 1. documents prepared by the party authorities (official speeches, fables and feuilletons); 2. requests and complaints addressed to the authorities. The novelty of the study consists in introducing archival materials previously unknown to researchers; revealing the cultural aspect of reviving the fable in the Soviet press; identifying sociocultural functions of fable characters; defining the status of folklore imagery in the political communication of the Perm Territory residents. A historical and anthropological analysis of materials revealed that since the mid-1940s the party language incorporated the folk language full of animal and bird imagery. Apart from editorials and resolutions, the newspaper publications of political nature also included fables. The fable became an important literary genre, constituting an artificial analogue of rural folklore, adapted to the pressing tasks that the party faced: the formation of a mythological worldview among the general Soviet public, as well as the fight against the bourgeois remnants in the consciousness and behaviour of the Soviet people. In line with the literary tradition, the officially approved animals (bears, hares, foxes, etc.) personified vices that had to be eradicated: bureaucracy, conceit, cosmopolitanism, or lack of patriotism, utilitarian approach, egoism, heavy drinking, etc. The introduction of folklore images suggests growing archaisation of the Soviet culture associated with the new party recruits individuals from collective farm villages and first-generation industrial workers. The archaisation of the language used by the authorities constituted a side effect of the governments policy of cultural isolation. The studied materials indicate that the ample use of clear folklore imagery in the party language simplified communication between the upper and lower classes of the party in the late Stalinist era. The language of the authorities became more accessible to its recipients. In turn, citizens could use common forms of verbal behaviour when dealing with government institutions. At the same time, the partial replacement of the Bolshevik language, canonised in the Short Course of the History of the CPSU (B.), with fabulous imagery subsequently lead to the depoliticisation of the Soviet culture.

Key words: Ural, 19451953, nomenclature culture, party language, folklore images.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2019-46-3-170-175


Funding. This work was supported by a grant from the the Russian Science Foundation No. 19-18-00221.


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Submitted: 20.05.2019

Accepted: 10.06.2019

Article is published: 26.09.2019


Leibovich O.L.

Institute of History and Archaeology of Ural Branch RAS, S. Kovalevskoi st., 16, Ekaterinburg, 620990, Russian Federation

Perm State Institute of Culture, Gazety Zvezda st., 18, Perm, 614000, Russian Federation