The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War

Paperback | September 8, 2005

byDavid Caute

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The cultural Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West was without precedent. At the outset of this original and wide-ranging historical survey, David Caute establishes the nature of the extraordinary cultural competition set up post-1945 between Moscow, New York, London, and Paris, withthe most intimate frontier war staged in the city of Berlin. Using sources in four languages, the author of The Fellow-Travellers and The Great Fear explores the cultural Cold War as it rapidly penetrated theatre, film, classical music, popular music, ballet, painting, and sculpture, as well aspropaganda by exhibition. Major figures central to Cold War conflict in the theatre include Brecht, Miller, Sartre, Camus, Havel, Ionesco, Stoppard, and Konstantin Simonov. Among leading film directors involved were Eisenstein, Romm, Chiarueli, Aleksandrov, Kazan, Tarkovsky, and Wajda. In the field of music, the Soviet Union in the Zhdanov era vigorously condemned 'modernism', 'formalism', and the avant-garde. A chapter is devoted to the intriguing case of Dmitri Shostakovich, and the disputed authenticity of his 'autobiography' Testimony. Meanwhile in the West the Congress forCultural Freedom was sponsoring the modernist composers most vehemently condemned by Soviet music critics, notably Stravinsky. The Soviet Party was unable to check the appeal of jazz on the Voice of America, then rock music, to young Russians. Visits to the West by the Bolshoi and Kirov ballet companines, the pride of the USSR, were fraught with threats of cancellation and the danger of defection. Caute dampens overheated speculations about KGB plots to injure Rudolf Nureyev and other defecting dancers.Turning to painting, where socialist realism prevailed in the USSR and dissident art was often brutally repressed, Caute explores the paradox of Picasso's membership of the French Communist Party. Re-assessing the extent of covert CIA patronage of abstract expressionist artists like Jackson Pollock,Caute finds that the CIA's role has been much exaggerated.Caute also challenges some recent accounts of 'Cold War culture', which virtually ignore the Soviet performance and cultural activity outside the USA. Soviet artistic standards and teaching levels were exceptionally high, but the regime's endemic fear of free innovation finally accelerated itscollapse.

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The cultural Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West was without precedent. At the outset of this original and wide-ranging historical survey, David Caute establishes the nature of the extraordinary cultural competition set up post-1945 between Moscow, New York, London, and Paris, withthe most intimate frontier war staged in the...

David Caute is at Harvard University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:780 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.57 inPublished:September 8, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199278830

ISBN - 13:9780199278831

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Culture WarPart I: Marking the Territory1. Propaganda Wars and Cultural Treaties2. The Gladiatorial ExhibitionPart II: Stage and Screen Wars: Russia and America3. Broadway Dead, Says Soviet Critic4. The Russian Question - A Russian Play5. Soviet Cinema under Stalin6. Hollywood: The Red Menace7. Witch Hunts: Losey, Kazan, Miller8. Soviet Cinema: The New WavePart III: Stage and Screen Wars: Europe9. Germany Divided: Stage and Screen10. Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble11. Dirty Hands: The Political Theatre of Sartre and Camus12. Squaring the Circle: Ionesco, Beckett, Havel and Stoppard13. Andrzej Wajda: Ashes and Diamonds, Marble and IronPart IV: Music and Ballet Wars14. Classical Music Wars15. Shostakovich's Testimony16. All that Jazz: Iron Curtain Falls17. The Ballet Dancer DefectsPart V: Art Wars18. Stalinist Art: Tractor Driver's Supper19. Passports for Paintings: Abstract Impressionism and the CIA20. Picasso and Communist France21. The Other Russia: Pictures by 'Jackasses'ConclusionBibliographyNotes and References

Editorial Reviews

`Extraordinary stories ... Caute is at his best when he drily lampoons today's (mostly) American academics who retroactively see cold war cultural politics in just abouteverything.'Peter Aspen, Financial Times