God, vodka, and gender relationships : depictions of Soviet life in the fiction of Vasily Shukshin, 1958-74

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Nickerson, Craig D.
Barber, John R., 1937-
Issue Date
Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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This thesis analyzes the work of Vasily Shuksin, an actor, director and writer in the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev and early Brezhnev eras, roughly 1958-1974. Shukshin's short stories, in particular, are of great value to anyone interested in Soviet attitudes during this period. The research suggests that Shukshin's work represents a sort of underground history. While the writer's stories are fictional, the issues are very real. Much of Shukshin's work provided the means for discussion on important topics such as gender relationships, alcohol use, and religious worship.Under Communism, nearly all sources of information were unable to tell the truth about Soviet society, but Shukshin's depictions of Soviet life appear to present a truer picture of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras. The author portrays women as "second class citizens" and often equates them with evil, while Shukshin's depictions of drunken males indicate that alcoholism was a serious problem in the Soviet Union. Finally, the author's religious symbolism provides evidence that Russian Orthodoxy was alive and well, despite a Communist government that continued to wage war against religion.