Verse from the battlefield: Russian poetry of the Great Patriotic War

Autumn 2020

This article considers the historical, political, and cultural contexts of both Russian Soviet and Russian émigré poetry about the second world war. It outlines the reasons for and the foundations of the extraordinarily abundant outpouring of Russian Soviet poems during the war (unmatched by any other country taking part in the war), including the platforms created by the state to receive and broadcast poetry, the importance of war correspondents, and the role of propaganda. It delineates the way poets were viewed as important allies and moral compasses during the war (their poems were consid- ered weapons), and shows how and why this was all changed after the war. It also considers the situation in the main émigré literary centres when the war broke out, and the difference in attitudes toward the Soviet Union.

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