CEERES of Voices: Eleonory Gilburd - "To See Paris and Die"

Monday, May 13, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Eleonory Gilburd

A reading with Eleonory Gilburd, author of To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture. A Q&A and signing will follow the event.

Presented in partnership with CEERES, the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at the University of Chicago

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the Book: The Soviet Union was a notoriously closed society until Stalin’s death in 1953. Then, in the mid-1950s, a torrent of Western novels, films, and paintings invaded Soviet streets and homes, acquiring heightened emotional significance. To See Paris and Die is a history of this momentous opening to the West.

At the heart of this history is a process of translation, in which Western figures took on Soviet roles: Pablo Picasso as a political rabble-rouser; Rockwell Kent as a quintessential American painter; Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway as teachers of love and courage under fire; J. D. Salinger and Giuseppe De Santis as saviors from Soviet clichés. Imported novels challenged fundamental tenets of Soviet ethics, while modernist paintings tested deep-seated notions of culture. Western films were eroticized even before viewers took their seats. The drama of cultural exchange and translation encompassed discovery as well as loss.

Eleonory Gilburd explores the pleasure, longing, humiliation, and anger that Soviet citizens felt as they found themselves in the midst of this cross-cultural encounter. The main protagonists of To See Paris and Die are small-town teachers daydreaming of faraway places, college students vicariously discovering a wider world, and factory engineers striving for self-improvement. They invested Western imports with political and personal significance, transforming foreign texts into intimate belongings.

About the Author: Eleonory Gilburd is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637