To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture

To See Paris And Die by Elenory Gilburd

2020 Prize in the Humanities

by Elenory Gilburd
Publisher: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Press Release
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Jury Statement

“A masterly and engrossing performance, To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture reveals just how ambiguous the Soviet Russian relationship was with Western people and art. In her remarkable and stunningly comprehensive work of scholarship, Eleonory Gilburd has the pulse of the people at her fingertips as she deftly counterpoints the ‘thaw’ of the 1930s with those of the 1950s and ’60s.

“From the long view of Soviet national politics in the international arena, Gilburd cuts to definable cultural sectors such as popular music and cinema, book publishing, and translation delivering the texture of experience during this period. Events such as foreign art exhibitions, book fairs, or the French and Italian film weeks allow Gilburd to track fashions and debates at the micro-level of individual responses, as well as through the usual introductions and pamphlets. Gilburd also offers a range of colorful vignettes of government disapproval, such as the story of Kruschev sleeping through much of a Fellini film at the Moscow Film Festival.

“Well-structured and jauntily written, To See Paris and Die succeeds because of its panoptic brio, audacious look at popular responses to cultural forms, accessible style, and a sustained sense that, within its pages, the destiny of Europe is at stake.”

Eleonory Gilburd, University of Chicago
Eleonory Gilburd, University of Chicago

About the Author

Eleonory Gilburd is an associate professor of history and college at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the history of modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular interest in Soviet culture, society, and their international context. 

2020 Final Jury

Dudley Andrew
R. Selden Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature
Yale University

JoAnn DellaNeva
Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
Academic Director of Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway
University of Notre Dame

Lydia Goehr
Professor of Philosophy
Columbia University

Michael Jennings
Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages and Professor of German
Princeton University

Declan Kiberd
Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies
University of Notre Dame