An interesting bit from Chapter 6 of Gregory Freidin’s A Coat of Many Colors:
The years immediately preceding and following the Revolution of 1917 were not only some of the most productive in the development of Russian literature, and especially poetry, but they also constituted a period of extraordinary verbal intensity, which permeated every aspect of Russian life. The relaxation of censorship after the Revolution of 1905 and the growing professionalism and education of urban Russia created an enormous and highly diversified market whose demands, thanks to modern means of communication, were well catered to. Originally a rather esoteric group with a minor circle of readers, Russian modernist poets profited immensely from this development. Whether they sought it or not, by 1910 they had become a highly visible and, where public sensibility was concerned, influential group. Indeed, it was during this period that the literary culture of the Russian intelligentsia, without losing its frame of reference in the elite educational tradition, began to acquire features we associate with the popular culture of our own time: the institution of the celebrity, emphasis on performing arts, and the attendant large-scale public exposure. Tolstoy was perhaps the first man of letters to be processed into an international star by the most modern forms of mass media, including the phonograph and film. Among the earlier modernists, Aleksandr Blok, the exemplar for the postSymbolist generation, was to benefit from this duality the most. He was the “tragic tenor of the epoch,” as Akhmatova called him, combining in a concise formula a reference to the atemporal high mimetic genre, a popular idol’s acute sensitivity to the mood of the present, and the celebrity status of the stage star. It should come as no surprise, then, that Blok’s appearance was replicated in the dandified lover protagonist in a whole series of films produced around 1910.