Nick Hordern reviews 'Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931–1941' by Katerina Clark

Soviet leadership and high culture

Nick Hordern reviews 'Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931–1941' by Katerina Clark

Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931–1941

by Katerina Clark

Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 hb, 428 pp, 9780674057876

In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hero Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, receives some advice from Karkov, a Russian ‘journalist’ at the unofficial Soviet headquarters in Madrid.

Jordan has been pressing Karkov on whether the Soviets consider the assassination of political opponents a legitimate technique. Musing ironically on the show trials of Stalin’s rivals then under way in Moscow, Karkov parodies the rhetoric used by prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky: the accused are ‘the dregs of humanity … we execute and destroy such veritable fiends … These are destroyed. They are not assassinated. You see the difference?’

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Nicholas Hordern

Nicholas Hordern

Nick Hordern took an Arts degree at the University of Sydney, concentrating on Indian history and Islamic studies, before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs. As well as postings in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, his public service career included stints in the Office of National Assessments and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. For five years he worked in Parliament House Canberra as a political staffer and journalist, then for fifteen years he was an editor and senior writer with the Australian Financial Review in Sydney. He now lives on the South Coast of New South Wales.
Published in March 2013 no. 349

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