It was obvious to critics within the Soviet leadership, like Trotsky and Bukharin, that the move to embalm Lenin's body and...

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LENIN LIVES! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia

It was obvious to critics within the Soviet leadership, like Trotsky and Bukharin, that the move to embalm Lenin's body and display it in a great mausoleum was a caricature of the preservation of saints' relics in the Orthodox Church. The effort to turn Lenin into a cult figure in this obvious and literal sense is the subject, disappointingly, of Tumarkin's study. She runs through the traditions of the Russian believers; the inflated and rosy image of Lenin the leader--an image of unselfishness and modesty based in truth but blown into myth, partly by Lenin himself; the use to which he was put by his successors for the purpose of legitimacy; and his passage from cult to worshiped ancestor by the time of Stalin's consolidation of power. Along the way, she gives all the details on Lenin's autopsy, as much as is known on the embalming technique (which is not much, since the Soviets have kept it secret) and the procedure for choosing the mausoleum. The decision to go through with the display was never officially recorded, and was based at least partially on the desire by millions to view the body in state. What starts out as some kind of historical investigation becomes a study in medical and social pathology, with the result that Tumarkin only verifies the obvious: the entire affair was a confirmation of cultural and political regression by the so-called revolutionary regime. So, if you were expecting a work on the uses to which Lenin has been put posthumously, forget it. This also adds little to what is already known about the process of political legitimation that immediately followed his death.

Pub Date: April 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983