During the Second World War, the Soviet Union found itself struggling to survive the German invasion. At this time, the ideals of communism came second to the victory against the Germans and the survival of the country. The “Big Deal” was an era of Soviet history that occurred after the conclusion of the Second World War. Its purpose was to reexamine what communism meant in post war Soviet society as well as to quell the nations anxiety about an unknown future.
One work released during this period was titled The Story of a Real Man (published in 1947). This novel, which was later adapted into a film, exemplified all the familiar themes of socialist realism. This was possibly done in an attempt to provide the general populace with familiar themes that would ultimately reemphasize the communist ideals that were so prevalent in the Soviet Union prior to the war.
The story follows a brave fighter pilot that is injured after being shot down. Upon crash landing, he is badly injured and unable to walk. In order to get to safety, he is forced to crawl many miles but receives help from Russian civilians along the way. He eventually does make his way back to Russian forces, but he ends up losing his leg. The pilot ends up recovering and manages to continue to serve in the war. What makes this story so fascinating is that it’s based off of true events. As a result, many children in the Soviet Union became infatuated by the book’s character and story. Many compare the popularity of this particular work to the Jack London series.
The combination of an amazing war story along with a plot containing themes of socialist realism (displayed through the pilot’s perseverance and determination to press on and keep fighting) resulted in a work that also reinforced key communist themes. It was through uplifting and exciting war stories such as The Story of a Real Man that the Soviet government was able to reemphasize the communist ideals that were predominant prior to the start of the war.
- MSU: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1947-2/veterans-return/aleksandr-stolper-story-of-a-real-man-1948/
- Mass Culture in Soviet Russia (pgs 416-421)
- Google Images