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Paris, Capital of the Soviet Avant-Garde**

Paris, Capital of the Soviet Avant-Garde** Paris, Capital of the Soviet Avant-Garde* MARIA GOUGH This essay tells the story of Walter Benjamin’s “The Author as Producer” (1934), a text considered central to the writer’s much celebrated Brechtiania.1 While not seeking to contest that centrality, my aim is nevertheless to bring to the surface another story of that text—a story that has so far been largely occluded by that which Irving Wohlfarth well describes in another context as “the lingering controversy over the ‘editorial monopoly’ exercised over Benjamin’s writings by the so-called ‘Frankfurters.’”2 This other story foregrounds Benjamin’s producer essay as one of the most valuable and indeed poignant documents in the early history of the Western European reception of the Russian and Soviet avant-garde’s pioneering attempts to theorize the role and efficacy of the artist and, more broadly, of the intelligentsia, in revolution. Benjamin’s text holds open—as a philosophical possibility for not only his own historical present but also myriad other presents-—a process of theorization otherwise shut down in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s by social engineering and socialist realism. My reading of “The Author as Producer” is thus necessarily a story of * An earlier version of the final section of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png October MIT Press

Paris, Capital of the Soviet Avant-Garde**

October , Volume Summer 2002 (101) – Jul 1, 2002

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
© 2002 October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
ISSN
0162-2870
eISSN
1536-013X
DOI
10.1162/016228702320275445
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Paris, Capital of the Soviet Avant-Garde* MARIA GOUGH This essay tells the story of Walter Benjamin’s “The Author as Producer” (1934), a text considered central to the writer’s much celebrated Brechtiania.1 While not seeking to contest that centrality, my aim is nevertheless to bring to the surface another story of that text—a story that has so far been largely occluded by that which Irving Wohlfarth well describes in another context as “the lingering controversy over the ‘editorial monopoly’ exercised over Benjamin’s writings by the so-called ‘Frankfurters.’”2 This other story foregrounds Benjamin’s producer essay as one of the most valuable and indeed poignant documents in the early history of the Western European reception of the Russian and Soviet avant-garde’s pioneering attempts to theorize the role and efficacy of the artist and, more broadly, of the intelligentsia, in revolution. Benjamin’s text holds open—as a philosophical possibility for not only his own historical present but also myriad other presents-—a process of theorization otherwise shut down in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s by social engineering and socialist realism. My reading of “The Author as Producer” is thus necessarily a story of * An earlier version of the final section of

Journal

OctoberMIT Press

Published: Jul 1, 2002

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