№ 9 2020

УДК / UDK: 821.111

Author: Olga Yu. Panova
About the author:

Olga Yu. Panova (Doctor Hab. in Philology, Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University; Lead research fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)

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Kenneth Burke’s performance at the First American Writers’ Congress in 1935 has been already considered by American scholars; for this reason the paper aims to complement the existing research with some facts and details that have to do with the Soviet reception of Kenneth Burke’s speech “Revolutionary Symbolism in America” presented on April 27 1935 (the second day of the Congress). The paper is based on the archival material stored in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) – a manuscript of the American Writers’ Congress proceedings, translated into Russian, edited and fully prepared for the press that nevertheless remained unpublished. The volume was based on the American record of the Congress edited by Henry Hart (International Publishers, 1935), but two papers were removed – Moissaye J. Olgin’s report about the Soviet Writers’ Congress and Kenneth Burke’s speech. The preface to the Russian edition written by the editor Sergei Dinamov throws light on the reasons for excluding Burke’s paper. In his introduction Dinamov dwelt at some length on Burke’s text and criticized his “errors”. Dinamov’s criticism makes it clear that the main problem was the fact that the American “fellow traveler” used the concepts “people” (narod) and “national spirit” (narodnost’) which at the moment were on the agenda in the USSR due to the Popular Front policy. Kenneth Burke’s speech “Revolutionary Symbolism in America” at the First American Writers’ Congress, translated into Russian by Tatiana A. Pirusskaia, is published herewith as an addendum to the essay.

Keywords: Kenneth Burke, “Revolutionary Symbolism in America”, 1935 American Writers’ Congress, Sergei Dinamov, Soviet publishing policy, archived materials.

[American Writers Congress 1935] – American Writers Congress, ed. H. Hart. New York: International Publishers, 1935.

[George Selzer 2003] – George, Ann; Selzer, Jack. “What Happened at the First American Writers’ Congress? Kenneth Burke’s Revolutionary Symbolism in America.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 33:3 (Spring 2003): 47–66.

[Logie 2005] – Logie, John. “‘We Write for the Workers’: Authorship and Communism in Kenneth Burke and Richard Wright.” KB Journal I:2 (Spring 2005). Online at

Mezhdunarodnyi kongress pisatelei v zashchitu kul'tury, Parizh, iiun' 1935: doklady i vystupleniia [International Writers’ Congress in Defense of Culture, Paris, June 1935: Reports and Speeches], ed., introd. I.K. Luppol, transl. E. Triole. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura Publ., 1936.

Pervyi vsesoiuznyi s"ezd sovetskikh pisatelei. Stenograficheskii otchet [The First All-Union Soviet Writers’ Congress. Verbatim Report]. Moscow: Khudozhest- vennaia literatura Publ., 1934.

[Williams 1989] – Williams, David Gratis. Kenneth Burke’s Thirties: The 1935 Writers’ Congress. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Speech Communication Association, Louisville, KY, April 6-8, 1989. Online at https://files.

[Yagoda 1980] – Yagoda, Ben. “Kenneth Burke: The Greatest Literary Critic Since Coleridge?” Horizon 23 (June 1980): 66–69.