SVETLOV, MIKHAIL (1903–1967), Soviet-Russian poet and playwright. Svetlov edited various periodicals of the Young Communist League before studying at the University of Moscow. His early volumes of lyrics, Relsy ("Rails," 1925) and Korni ("Roots," 1925), depict the heroism of the Revolution, and his famous poem Grenada (1926) glorifies the internationalism of the working classes. Two plays, Skazka ("Fairy Tale," 1939) and Dvadtsat let spustya ("Twenty Years Hence," 1940), portray the devotion of Russian youth to the building of the Socialist homeland.
Other poems and plays by Svetlov laud the heroism of those who fought in the Communist Revolution, the Russian civil war, and World War ii. Svetlov's works reflect the conflict between his political identification and his feelings for Judaism. He frequently emphasized his Jewishness and praised the Revolution for having freed the Jews from oppression. In a series of eight poems in Korni called "Stikhi o rebe" ("Verses about the Rabbi"), he expressed Jewish melancholy and a yearning for the Jewish way of life which was being destroyed by the waves of revolution. He nevertheless argued that the Revolution was more important and declared that he would himself be prepared to burn the synagogue, if the Revolution required him to do so.
A.O. Boguslavski and L.I. Timofeyev (eds.), Russkaya sovetskaya literatura (1936); B.Y. Braynina and E.F. Nikitina, Sovetskiye pisateli, 2 (1959), 304–10; E.J. Simmons, Through the Glass of Soviet Literature (1953), 188–9.
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