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Vsevolod Anissimovich Kochetov
Born Всеволод Анисимович Кочетов
February 4, 1912(1912-02-04)
Novgorod, Russian Empire
Died November 4, 1973 (aged 61)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR
Occupation Agronomist, Journalist, Novelist, Editor
Language Russian
Nationality Soviet
Education Technical school
Notable work(s) The Zhurbin Family
Brothers Yershov
What Do You Want Then?
Notable award(s) Order of Lenin

Vsevolod Anissimovich Kochetov (Russian: Всеволод Анисимович Кочетов; * 4 February [O.S. 22 January] 1912 in Novgorod, Russian Empire; † 4 November 1973 in Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR) was a Soviet Russian writer and cultural functionary. He has been described as party dogmatist[1] and a classic of socialist realism. Some of his writings were not well received by the official press, as Kochetov was considered too reactionary by Soviet standards of the 1960s.

Contents

Early life

Vsevolod Kochetov was born into a peasant family. In 1927, he moved from Novgorod to Leningrad, where he graduated in 1931 from a technical school and worked thereafter as agronomist. In 1938 he became a reporter of the newspaper Leningradskaya Pravda. During the second world war, Kochetov worked as a reporter for various newspapers at the Leningrad Front.

Career

Since 1946, he devoted himself to literary activities (On the Plains of Neva («На невских равнинах»), described recollections of the war. His writings were characterized from the start with rigorous following of the political line.

In 1952 he published the novel The Zhurbin Family («Журбины»), which portrays the life of a worker dynasty. It was adapted as the film A Big Family. The book was re-published numerous times and translated into a number of languages.

His next novel Brothers Yershov was composed as a sort of counterpoint to Dudintsev’s Not by Bread Alone, but was criticized even in Pravda for exaggerations[2]. His last important work was the novel What Do You Want Then? («Чего же ты хочешь?»).

As a pro-Soviet figure, Kochetov worked for numerous years as a cultural functionary, wherease he maintained a militant communist attitude, always wary of liberal or pro-Western influences. For example, when Ilya Ehrenburg's memoirs were published, Kochetov complained of certain writers “burrowing in the rubbish heaps of their crackpot memories.”[3]

As a bureaucrat, on the other hand, he managed to help his colleagues in need, including those he strongly disagreed with. Kochetov was awarded a number of awards (Order of Lenin etc.). From 1955 to 1959 he was the editor in chief of Literaturnaya Gazeta, from 1961 editor in chief of the journal Oktyabr'[4], that was in effect the conservative counterpart to Tvardovsky's Novyy Mir, a more liberal journal that also published texts of critical authors like Solzhenitsyn.

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What Do You Want Then?

In the novel What Do You Want Then?, Vsevolod Kochetov treats mercilessly phenomena that he had always opposed and criticized. The novel has been compared with a pamphlet. The author rejects the values of the Western world, criticizes ‘bourgeois propaganda‘, the alleged lack of vigilance among the Soviet people, that enables the class enemies and Western imperialists to further their goal of undermining socialism. The plot includes a number of disguised Western agents, including а former SS man, who have been sent to the USSR to pursue subversive activities and corrupt the Soviet youth. The novel was not well-received by Pravda and was never again published in Russia. 20 Soviet intellectuals signed a letter of protest against the publication of such an ‘’obscurantist‘’ work. [5]. The novel has later been characterized as the Soviet version of The Possessed[6].

A number of parodies of the novel were written by Russian intellectuals, that circulated on Samisdat), e.g. «Чего же ты хохочешь?» (What Are You Laughing Then?), in which one also alludes to the novel The Brothers Yershov (in that text referred to as The Brothers Yezhov).

Death

Kochetov apparently committed suicide in 1973, as pains caused by cancer became intolerable [7]. It is sometimes noted that his stoic, manly decision actually reconciled him with some of his opponents of his lifetime. [8].

Works

  • On the Plains of Neva («На невских равнинах»)
  • The Zhurbin Family («Журбины», 1952)
  • Brothers Yershov (1958)
  • What Do You Want Then? («Чего же ты хочешь?»)

Footnotes

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ «Правда», 1958, 25 сентября
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ Диссидентская активность
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ Михаил Герчик, Халява
  8. ^ [5]

Reference

  • Vsevolod Kochetov: a paragon of literary conservatism by Joseph William Augustyn. Brown University, 1971.

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