A major lacuna in Pascale Casanova’s account of world literature in her World Republic of Letters is the Soviet venture into establishing a “world literature” (mirovaia literatura) to be centered not in Paris but in Moscow. This aim was most actively pursued between the wars, when many writers were implicated in its international network. This moment in literary history provides a missing link in the progression from the more elitist world literature as conceived by Goethe and others in the early nineteenth century to world literature in our postcolonialist present and era of globalization. This article outlines the networks that sought to foster such a world literature and the main aesthetic controversies within the movement. In particular, the article looks at the efforts of such official spokesmen as Andrei Zhdanov, Karl Radek, and Georg Lukács to proscribe “bourgeois” modernism. It takes members of the British Writers’ International and their associated journals the Left Review and New Writing as case studies in the interplay between Moscow as putative “metropole” and the “periphery.”

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