REVOLUTIONARY PROFILES by Anatoly Vasilievich Lunacharsky


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Lenin's Commissar for Education wrote the first of these portraits immediately after the October Revolution. By 1923, when his full catalogue of fellow revolutionary leaders appeared, most of the principals were already dead. Perhaps for this reason translator Michael Glenny calls these brief, black-fringed profiles ""silhouettes."" Long suppressed in the Soviet Union, they nonetheless add few facts of scholarly value: Lenin remains the possessor of a ""firm, extremely forceful will,"" Trotsky ""the greatest orator of our age"" who tried to upstage the revolution. For general readers the cast may include some new names: Zinoviev, Plekhanov, Sverdlov, Volodarsky, Uritsky, Martov, Kalinin, and Bessalko. The most interesting portrait is the one that emerges of Lunacharsky from his open-minded memories of his comrades. He saw dissent as error not outrage-a fact that led to his disagreements with Stalin. Lunacharsky never added a portrait of Stalin, for it would have been scathing. Clearly a risk of too calculable proportions. The introduction is by Isaac Deutscher who has written definitive biographies of Trotsky and Stalin. Glenny, who seems to be the chief translator and courier of long-hidden Russian documents, supplies extensive historical notes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Hill & Wang