Letters have always been an important medium between rulers and subjects in the Soviet Union and Russia. This article looks at letters from young people to Soviet party officials, newspapers and youth organizations, using them as texts in their own right rather than as sources for the events they describe. A close and detailed analysis of the letters' language, structure and style reveals the subjective universe of their authors and the function of letters both in the personal life of their writers and in the Soviet system overall. Particular attention is paid to letters that employ confessionary narratives. The eschatological trajectory of other Soviet autobiographical texts, which chart the inevitable progress from an unenlightened state to ideological conviction, is reversed in these letters, leading the reader from a happy Soviet life to a point of confusion and ideological doubt. While the crises, which are at the heart of these letters, reveal the difficulties of young people in making sense of the Soviet world around them, they also demonstrate the extent to which young people's norms, values and language were infused by Bolshevik thought. The process of letter writing was thus both an affirmation of the system and a testimony to its failings.
|Translated title of the contribution||In Search of Soviet Salvation: Young People Write to the Stalinist Authorities|
|Pages (from-to)||327 - 345|
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Contemporary European History|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2006|
Bibliographical notePublisher: Cambridge University Press
Other identifier: E-ISSN: 1469-2171