Synopses & Reviews
War is always far more than just a military event, and the cultural effects of world war are massive. The Great War suffused Russian culture to an extraordinary degree. In this heavily illustrated book, Hubertus Jahn explores a variety of ways in which Russians expressed their patriotic fervor. He assembles little-known evidence from diverse sources - postcards and fairground peepshows, operettas and circuses, posters and movies - to illuminate the cultural life of the nation in the last years of the tsar. Patriotism invaded the world of entertainment and popular culture during World War I, shaping the imagination of Russians of all classes and changing with the fortunes of the nation at war. Between 1914 and 1917 cartoons of a bewhiskered kaiser gave way to caricatures of greedy speculators; the exploits of Cossack heroes faded into sentimental images of heroic nurses tending to wounded soldiers; and sensationalist movies offered an increasingly popular escape from the disasters of the eastern front. Jahn correlates these metaphoric shifts with changes in the way the Russians understood their nation; the revolutions of 1917 reflected not only social and political cleavages but also, he suggests, a crisis of national identity.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 209-221) and index.