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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article is an effort at comparative history: it treats the intelligentsia in the Soviet Union along with the zhishi fenzi (literally, ‘knowledgeable elements’) in the People’s Republic of China. Starting from a discussion of these terms and ways in which they differ from the Western notion of intellectuals, the article then focuses on the creative work of artists under the two communist regimes. Looking also at the daily conditions, in which writers, musicians, painters, and other members of the artistic intelligentsia in both countries lived and worked, and at their collective image within their societies, the article concludes with a consideration of the legacies and possible prospects of the intelligentsia following the demise of communism in Russia and the introduction of a capitalist market in China.

Keywords: intelligentsia, zhishi fenzi, intellectuals, Soviet Union, communist China, Russia and China, comparative history

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