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The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond

"Artists can make a hash of society as completely as the most cynical of politicians."—Boston Globe
From the ruins of communism, Boris Groys emerges to provoke our interest in the aesthetic goals pursued with such catastrophic consequences by its founders. Interpreting totalitarian art and literature in the context of cultural history, this brilliant essay likens totalitarian aims to the modernists' goal of producing world-transformative art. In this new edition, Groys revisits the debate that the book has stimulated since its first publication.


  • “This is not just a book, but an event ... The Total Art of Stalinism is an intellectual landmark.”
  • “Art and the celebration of power all too often coincide, and the controversial message here is that artists, for all their insights into the human condition, can make a hash of society as completely as the most cynical of politicians.”
  • “One of the most astute commentators on the art scene today.”


  • Reflections on the Russian Problem (1944)

    Throughout May, our Weekend Reads series will feature selections from books about or related to the Russian Revolution. 

    Delegates at the 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, 1919. 

    Published in 1985, 
    Marxism, Wars & Revolutions collects essays written by Isaac Deutscher over a period of more than thirty years. "From them," Perry Anderson writes in his preface to the book, "we can see Deutscher as he was, a much more complex and multi-dimensional figure than the terms by which he became best-known in his lifetime would suggest: not simply a scholar, but a thinker, of the Left; and not only a commentator on events, but a participant in them." 

    The text below, an assessment of the yet unfinished Russian revolutionary epoch, was written for Political Quarterly in 1944, five years before the publication of Stalin: A Political Biography, while Deutscher was working as a journalist for The Economist and The Observer. 

    Isaac Deutscher's
    Marxism, Wars & Revolutions and The Prophet are available for 50% off until May 28 as part of our Russian Revolution reading. See all the books on the reading list, here.

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  • Art and Aesthetics Undergraduate Reading List

    Alas, summer is ending and you need to know your Brecht from your Benjamin quicksharp. Luckily, Verso is here to help, All books on our undergraduate reading list are 50% off — we have your back arts students!

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Other books by Boris Groys Translated by Charles Rougle