№14 2023

УДК / UDK: 821.111(73).0+821.161.1Р.0


Author: Olga I. Shcherbinina
About the author:

Olga I. Shcherbinina, Junior Researcher, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia. Lecturer, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), prospekt Vernadskogo 82/2, 119671 Moscow, Russia.


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The article tracks Howard Fast’s literary contacts with the USSR until 1955, when he met Boris Polevoy, the chairman of the Foreign Commission of the Union of Soviet Writers. Fast’s fame reached its zenith in the late 1940s – early 1950s, the period of the Cold War and fierce anti-American propaganda campaign in the USSR. The paper considers how and why Fast caught Soviet attention, what literary contacts he maintained, how much he had to pay for them, what compromises — reputational, political, he had to make to remain for the Soviet audience “the most widely read author of his century”. Obviously, Fast was acknowledged as a loyal friend of the USSR not only due to his literary achievements, i.e. historical novels, which brought him popularity both at home and around the world. Soviet propaganda perceived Fast’s disgraced experience (in 1950 he was sent to prison for contempt of Congress) as a valuable fact, a compelling proof of his active struggle for the cause of communism. Left Western writers were expected to take part in pickets, rallies, international congresses, demonstrations, and publish their nonfictional materials in the party press. Fast who was a delegate to World Congresses for Peace (Waldorf Conference 1949, Paris Congress 1949), the laureate of the International Stalin Peace Prize in 1953, perfectly met these requirements. Fast’s correspondence with P.A. Pavlenko from the funds of the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art is published in the addendum.

Acknowledgement: The research was carried out at A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences and was financially supported by the Russian Scientific Fund, grant no. 23-18-00393 “Russia and the West viewing each other: Literature at the intersection of culture and politics, XX century”,

Keywords: American literature, Soviet-American literary contacts, Howard Fast, Boris Polevoy, Piotr Pavlenko, Konstantin Simonov, Cold War, archival documents.
For citation:

Shcherbinina, Olga. “Howard Fast and Soviet Writers. Article 1. ‘A Friendly Hand Reaching out Across the Ocean’: 1949–1955.” Literature of the Americas, no. 14 (2023): 285–314. 


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