Gasparov Boris

Stalin and the “dialect of the Kursk-Orel region”

Gasparov Boris (2022) "Stalin and the “dialect of the Kursk-Orel region” ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2022, vol. 72, pp. 20-28 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII202272.20-28


The article explores a link between the “discussion on the problems of theoretical linguistics” in 1952, which culminated with the demise of Nikolai Marr's teaching upon the publication of Stalin's piece on the subject, and the formation of the Union of Soviet writers under Maxim Gorky's chairmanship in 1934, in which Stalin took a very active albeit largely behind-the-scene part. In both cases, the tenor of the abrupt ideological and institutional reorganization of literary and academic life lay in the rejection of heteroglossia and conflicting plurality of voices as the mode of linguistic and literary practice, a principle that had dominated the early Soviet avant-garde literature and the “new teaching about language” by Marr and his followers. The Union of Soviet writers rejected stylistic experiments of the 1920s in favor of the imagined normative purity of “Russian literary language.” The idealized image of the gentry estates in the Kursk and Orel region (podmoskovnye usadby) as the cradle of national literature and “pure” literary language of Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Turgenev, was eloquently expressed by Bunin in emigration. Embraced by Gorky and supported by Stalin, this idea was established as the strategic guideline for Soviet writers. It apparently also stood at the root of Stalin's fantastic assertion, eighteenth years later, of the dialect of the “Kursk-Orel district” as the place of the origin of the Russian national language.


the Kursk-Orel dialect, Bunin, Gorky, Panferov, Stalin, Marr, the Kursk-Orel dialect, Bunin, Gorky, Panferov, Stalin, Marr


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Information about the author

Gasparov Boris

Academic Degree: Doctor of sciences* in Philology;
ORCID: 0000-0001-7271-5740;
Email: bg28@columbia.edu.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.