The Silver (Age) Linings Playbook

No, this is not a blog about Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s chemistry in an incredible RomCom. (I wish)…. however, we can use media and the arts as a powerful way to address issues within society. Similarly to the impact of popular culture American society has seen through social media and the messaging of Hollywood, Russia challenged the hegemony of the nationalistic ideals on religion, metaphysical ideas, and philosophical findings in Russia in 1905 to spark a revolution.

A powerful (and often overlooked) element of the Revolution of 1905 existed from within the cultural movement of the people of Russia, through the use of media and popular culture, known as the “Silver Age” (Freeze, 265). According to Freeze, poetry, fiction, theater, music, and plastic arts all challenged a new age of modernism in a society struggling to stay together. These ideals were all used in order to beckon a new age of thinking, embracing the movement away from conservatism.


I discovered a fascinating piece highlighting Maxim Gorky, playwright based in Moscow; discussing his opinion on the future of Russian “peace” and the governments handling of power in relation to the peasant class. Gorky emphasizes the importance of introspection as a necessary tool for the government to heal Russia, rather than turn to expansionism.

“But inside from the effects of the peace’s upon the chances of liberty being won by the Russian people, the colonial venture should have been finished once for all.”

He also discusses the major social injustice faced by the Russian population at hand. “Besides we have nothing to give others.” This point I found very interesting. It was, in my opinion, a selfless way of acknowledging that expansionist ideals would further divide Russia both internally and damage the reputation of the “Great Power”.

“Political freedom having been obtained, there is bound to be a marvelous unfolding of the spiritual and intellectual faculties of the people. We may experience a veritable Elizabethan age of Russian literature and art. The expansion of the mental horizon to the gold generation of Shakespeare’s day, due to the discoveries of navigators, and the exploits of sailors, cannot be compared with the coming discovery of themselves by the hundred millions of Russia’s benighted workfolk.”

 To add to the cultural ramifications for the “Silver Age”, I critically examined Manifesto of 17 October 1905. Using the powerful jargon: “on the improvement of order in the state”, signifying that it was very powerfully grant change, the first tenet was “Fundamental civil freedoms will be granted to the population, including real personal inviolability, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association”. This tenet can be confirmed through the explosion of the arts in the time period, as a way to exercise the freedoms of speech, assembly, association, and consciousness. The freedom of consciousness was so desperately needed, and the media acted as a way of connecting peasants and workers to the causes of the intelligentsia and the Marxist movement.

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This post received the “Comrades Corner” distinction from the Editorial team.

Works Cited:


GORKY’S INTERVIEW.: Complete Text of Russian Author’s Opinion of Peace. New York Times (1857-1922); Oct 2, 1905; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times. pg. 8

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

6 thoughts on “The Silver (Age) Linings Playbook

  1. Caroline,
    First, I love the title (and the movie). It certainly made me want to read your blog! I think you did an awesome job addressing cultural shifts during the time. People often look at the big events as catalysts but forget to analyze the undercurrent of cultural shifts. These arts clearly allowed the people of Russia to reinvent their ideals and played a huge part in the revolutions. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your reference to the film and ability to tie in Hollywood/media in general with art’s role in revolution and culture. As we move further into the twentieth century, you will see art’s influence increase in Russia and Hollywood’s more direct impact in regard to propaganda. Also, great quotes from the New York Times article you found!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I found it very interesting to read what you wrote concerning the cultural movement and it’s impact through the use of media. I would agree that it is an overlooked, yet important, part of the 1905 revolution. I thought it was cool to see you wrote about the art being used as a means of freedom of expression.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very cool title that allows you to pivot to your main topic. Love it! And I’m really intrigued by the interview with Gorky you cite. It’s a powerful statement from an intellectual who will be key in the post-revolutionary period as well, so good find! What do you make of his critique of the government? What peace is he referring to and why does he sound only guardedly hopeful for the country’s prospects going forward?
    Also (and you can remind me to mention this in class too), hyperlinking to the original can be tricky but in this case the database makes it a bit easier. Just use the URL generated when you click the “cite this article button”:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the help with the hyperlink- I totally missed that they were not correct!

      I believe Gorky’s critique of the government was very accurate and an interesting take on the issues. He wishes to move on from the “traditional” totalitarian rule to more rights to people, especially the peasants.

      By “peace” I believe that Gorky is referring to a more equally represented society through government, which will then appease the peasant class.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the part where you quoted Gorky stated that the past generations and innovations “cannot be compared with the coming discovery of themselves by the hundred millions of Russia’s benighted workfolk”. This just shows how important and influential the people of Russia during this time were to history. Great use of using quotes and different sources!

    Liked by 1 person

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