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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(French, “clarity,” “light”), the first international society of writers and cultural leaders to condemn the imperialist war of 1914–18 and to advocate the rebuilding of society on socialist principles.

Clarté was founded by H. Barbusse in 1919. Among the members of the international steering committee were Barbusse, A. France, P. Vaillant-Couturier, R. Lefebvre, and the artist T. A. Steinlen, all of France; H. G. Wells, T. Hardy, and G. B. Shaw, of England; and V. Blasco Ibañez of Spain, G. Brandes of Denmark, and U. Sinclair of the USA. Among the organizers of the movement in Austria was S. Zweig; in Germany, H. Mann; and in Turkey, Nazim Hikmet. There were also Clarté groups in Latin America. In Czechoslovakia the writers S. K. Neumann and I. Olbracht and the scholar Z. Nejedly headed the group. The pamphlet Light From the Abyss: The Aim of the “Clarté” Group (1920), written by Barbusse, became the group’s manifesto; in it Barbusse discussed the worldwide significance of the Russian Revolution, condemned the blockade and foreign intervention in Soviet Russia, and defined the basic goal of Clarté as a “revolution in men’s minds”—a struggle for the liberation of humanity from the prejudices created by bourgeois society and religion. In October 1919, Barbusse began publishing a newspaper, which in November 1921 became the journal Clarté. The journal led the struggle against reaction in the 1920’s; it fought for progressive art and described the successes of culture-building in Soviet Russia, including the works of Gorky and V. V. Mayakovsky. Works by V. I. Lenin, A. V. Lunacharskii, and Gorky were printed in the journal. Lenin placed a high value on the antimilitarist activity of the Clarté group and sent it his greetings in 1922 (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 45, p. 299).

The diversity in social and political views of the members led to disagreements in the group. The collapse of Clarté became inevitable when anarchistic, leftist, and sectarian writers like M. Fourrier and G. Michael took over the journal. Barbusse, who was a supporter of the Third International, formally left the editorial board of the journal in 1924, having already virtually ceased to direct the publication. The journal lost its earlier identity and ceased publication in 1928.


Vidal, A. A. Barbius—soldat mira. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from French, with a foreword by J. Duclos and afterword by F. S. Narkir’er.)
Narkir’er, F. S. Frantsuzskaia revoliutsionnaia literatura (1914–1924). Moscow, 1965.
Brett, V. H. Barbusse: Sa Marche vers la clarté, son mouvement Clarté. Prague, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.