Vol. 16 (2023): XVI International Symposium Contemporary Issues of Literary Criticism Socialist Realism in Literature and Art
Models and Forms of Socialist Realism

Representing Women in the Struggle for Socialism: Alexandra Kollontai and Lydia Chukovskaia as Alternatives to Socialist Realism

Soma Marik
RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhavan

Published 2023-12-11


  • Socialist Realism,
  • Class and Gender,
  • Alexandra Kollontai,
  • Critical Bolshevik and Feminist Fictions


Mainstream Socialist Realism had a fundamentally gender stereotyping of women from the 1930s. By contrast, Alexandra Kollontai in the 1920s (The Love of Worker Bees) was socialist, feminist, and realist, but not Socialist Realist. She presented a critique of an emergent new hierarchy, and also challenged the re-inscription of patriarchal norms. Lydia Chukovskaya, writing immediately after the Great Terror, (Sofia Petrovna, written 1939-40) produced a text that started in a typical Socialist Realist mode only to reveal the brutality of Stalinist terror and subverted the Socialist Realist structure by positing the possibility that only horizontal solidarity of communities of the oppressed, rather than a top-down party led hierarchy, could provide wider ideas and awareness.