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Full Access The Changing Nature of Literary Censorship, 1961-1965

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The Changing Nature of Literary Censorship, 1961-1965

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From 1961-1965, the Writers’ Union was transformed from a place where writers debated and primarily made their own decisions about what to publish to an organization under watchful gaze of official censors at Glavlit (the Main Administration for the Protection of Military and State Secrets in the Press). In these years, decision-making authority switched from give and take within the union to censors who had ideological, not literary expertise.Although Glavlit played a secondary role in late Stalinist and early Khrushchev censorship, its power and relevance grew before Khrushchev’s fall. Glavlit began to censor ideological content and remove the decision-making process from the hands of editors. Censorship began to take on the same characteristics as ideological work throughout society in that it became increasingly disconnected from real questions of the moment. The censors strove to reproduce approved ideological formulations with much less attention to actual content. Glavlit’s new approach to censorship and increasing power drove innovative writers away from the official channels of publication. Thus, the internal struggles of the Moscow Writers’ Union and their confrontation with literary censors during the early years of the 1960s were crucial for ushering in a more repressive age.

Affiliations: 1: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Email:, URL:


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