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Lenin's love of literature and the Russian Revolution

Lenin, the father of the Soviet Union, also had a Latin side.

By Shoaib RahmanPublished 2 years ago 10 min read
Lenin's love of literature and the Russian Revolution
Photo by Soviet Artefacts on Unsplash

Lenin, the father of the Soviet Union, also had a Latin side. Goethe was revered by him. He liked to compare his enemies with the characters in the novel.

Literature influenced the political culture of Russia. In the meantime, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin has grown up. It was difficult to publish public political writings under the Tsarist regime. The essayists had to hide in shelters until they ‘recovered’; In other words, there was no exemption until their views were publicly rejected. However, even among these, novels and poems were viewed with a somewhat softer view, though not in all cases.

Naturally, the main thing was the sensor. Before the publication of Pushkin's poem "Father of the People", Nicholas-I did not use to permit to publish poems. As a result, some poems were banned, some were delayed, and the most aggressive poems were destroyed by the frightened author himself for fear that his house might be attacked. We will never know what was in Eugene Onezin's burnt feet.

Nevertheless, politics and diversity in a different sense confused Russian fiction in a way that was unparalleled in the judgment of any other European country. As much as political literature and literary criticism could be done, there were many options to choose from for Russian intellectuals. They swallowed up the bitter conflict between the powerful critic Visarion Belinsky and the playwright and novelist Nikolai Gogol. Gogol's fierce satirical Dead Souls of 1842 invigorated the whole country. Even the ignorant were read aloud.

However, success was the cause of Gogol's downfall. In a later article, he withdrew an article on resisting stinking peasants and illiteracy. In the preface to the second edition of Dead Souls, he wrote, ‘Much of this book is misspelled. These are not happening in Russia. Dear reader, correct me. Don't skip this topic. I want you to correct me. '

Outraged Belonsky severed ties with Gogol in public in 1848. The recipient of Belonsky's widely circulated "Letter to Gogol" had a long sleepless night:

I know very little about the people of Russia. Your book terrified me because it created the possibility of having a bad effect on the government and censorship, not on the people. My friends were disappointed when rumors spread in St. Petersburg that the government would publish thousands of copies of your book (selected paragraphs of communication with friends) and sell it at very low prices. But I told them right away that despite all this, the book would not succeed and would soon be forgotten. The articles that have been written about books are now more remembered than books. Yes, although still immature, the Russians have a deep instinct for truth.

Critics later began to act more maliciously. They would not hesitate to condemn the work of a novelist and playwright if they did not find it so influential.

Lenin grew up in such an intellectual environment. His father was a highly educated conservationist and the chief inspector of schools in his area. He was highly respected as an educator. Literature of Shakespeare, Goethe, Pushkin, and others was read aloud at home on Sunday afternoons. The Yulianov family (Tsar took the name ‘Lenin’ as a pseudonym to dust in the eyes of the secret police) couldn’t stay away from high culture.

In high school, Lenin fell in love with the Latin language. Lenin's headmaster had high hopes that he would one day become a linguist and a scholar of Latin. But the will of history was different. But Lenin's addiction to Latin and his preference for classics never left him. Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and Juvenal read in the language of origin. He also read the speech of the Roman Senate. During his two years in exile, he devoured Goethe's literature. First, he read repeatedly.

Lenin took advantage of his classical knowledge at a time when the October Revolution of 1917 was in full swing. In April of that year, he severed ties with the Russian Social-Democratic Orthodoxy and called for a social revolution in Russia with a bunch of extremist theories. Some of Lenin's comrades condemned him. In a quick retort, Lenin quotes from Mephistopheles, Gate's best work, saying, "Friend, the theory is gray, but green is the eternal tree of life."

Lenin knew better than anyone else that classical Russian literature had always been infiltrated with politics. Even the most ‘apolitical’ writers found it difficult to hide their hatred of the state of the country. Ivan Goncharov's novel Ablomov is an example of this. Lenin loved this novel. There was a picture of the lifelessness, apathy, and emptiness of the subjective polite community. Due to the success of this book, a new word was added to the Russian lexicon: Oblomvism.

The term was used to denote the class that had helped the dictatorship to survive for so long. Lenin later said that the disease was not confined to the upper classes, but that a large part of the Tsar's bureaucracy was affected by atomism and spread to the lower classes. Even Bolshevik members were not free from the disease. This example shows that the mirror that Goncharov held up reflected the whole of society. Lenin often attacked the opposition in his arguments by comparing the always unhappy characters in Russian fiction and sometimes the petty ones.

There are statements like appearances in the hit experimental writings from the power of the calculus. In the first Nolosar, Pushkin supports Hamid Asin's December 1825 uprising. Gogol is a comforting breedpost when again the cake is hot. Gathering day about the snowy germs, but the period of observation given by the terror sprinkled is extremely miserable. Dostoevsky's study of anarchy and terror in St. Petersburg describes horrific. The opposite has happened. For that, ask Lenin, how can a revolutionary be re-published with a piece of writing?

Dostoevsky's cult of saffron has already disgusted Lenin, although Dostoevsky's ability to write was undeniable. However, Lenin's views on literature did not become state policy. Less than a year after the revolution, on August 2, 1917, the newspaper Iztevestia published a list of several individuals. It was a list of the names of those who were offered the monument. Dostoevsky's name was thereafter Tolstoy. In November of that year, the Moscow Soviet Union unveiled the monument in Moscow in tribute to the symbolic poet Vyacheslav Ivanov.

Perhaps Nikolai Chernyshevsky had the most profound influence on Lenin as a writer. He influenced an entire revolutionary generation. Chernyshevsky's father was a priest. He was also known as a materialist philosopher and socialist. He has written his fictional novel "What Is To Be Done?" at Peter and Paul Castle in St. Petersburg. It was here that he was imprisoned for his political beliefs. "What is to be done?" became the Bible of a new generation. The novel had the added appeal of being written in secret from prison.

Long before he became acquainted with Marx, Chernyshevsky's book encouraged Lenin to become politically extremist (Chernyshevsky exchanged letters with Marx). In memory of the former extremist popular writer, Lenin named his first notable political work "What is to be done?." He wrote the book in 1902. It was published in the same year.

The great success of Chernyshevsky's novels angered the novelists. Turgenev, in particular, terribly attacked Chernyshevsky's book. Fierce critics Dabraliubov and Picharev responded to the blaze with a burning nettle (Dabraliubov was referred to by students as "Our Diderot"). Turgenev was furious. At an open ceremony, he shouted at Chernyshevsky, shouting, "You're a snake, and that Dobrylubov is a rattlesnake."

The novel around which there are so many controversies, how is it? In the last 2 years, I have tried three times to read each page. All three attempts failed. It is not a classic of Russian literature. The novel was pervasive in its own time and has played an important role in the post-terror chapter of the Russian intelligentsia. Undoubtedly it is very extreme in all cases, especially in the area of ​​gender equality and the relationship between women and men.

Apart from this, the novel is also about how to fight, how to identify the enemy, and how to live according to certain rules. Vladimir Nabokov disliked Chernyshevsky, but could not ignore it.

Nabokov spent 50 pages in his last Russian novel, The Gift, denigrating and mocking Chernyshevsky and his supporters. But he admits that "there was certainly a hint of class hypocrisy among the lower-class contemporary writers," and that Tolstoy and Turgenev personally called him a "beetle-smelling gentleman" ... and ridiculed Chernyshevsky.

Their satire was partly out of jealousy, as their nose-high disposition was widely popular among the youth. Chernyshevsky wanted to make a revolution to destroy the zamindari taluk and distribute those lands among the peasants. So deep-rooted political animosity is also a factor, especially in the case of Turgenev.

When Lenin was in exile during the inter-revolution of 1905-1917, young Bolsheviks visited him. Lenin was angry with those young people when they mocked Chernyshevsky's book, saying it was not worth reading. Lenin sternly replied that they were not old enough to understand the depth and foresight of this book. They should wait until they are 40 years old. Then they will understand that the basis of Chernyshevsky's philosophy is very simple: we were not born of Adam and Eve.

We are descendants of apes; Life is a very short time biological process, so it is necessary to bring happiness to all people. That is never possible in a world controlled by greed, hatred, war, egoism, and class. That is why a social revolution is needed. By the time the young Bolsheviks were climbing the Swiss mountains with Lenin, they were in their late 40s, but the revolution took place in those days. Now the historians who are studying the evolution of Lenin's thought have to read more Chernishevsky. The wise progressive party is happily leaning towards Mayakovsky. But Lenin did not.

Lenin's passion for ancient literature was deeply ingrained. As a result, the exciting art and literature that arose before and during the Revolution did not affect Lenin. It was difficult for him to adapt to modernism in Russia or anywhere else. The works of Avangard, the forerunner of industrial progress, such as Mayakovsky and other constructivists, were not to Lenin's liking.

Poets and artists in vain told him that although they were fans of Pushkin and Lermontov, they were revolutionaries. They are reluctant to accept the old art. They are creating something different and new that fits Bolshevism and the revolutionary era. But Lenin did not move at all. Poets and artists can write and draw whatever they want. But why should he be forced to praise Sesab? Many of Lenin's colleagues were sympathetic enough to the new movement. Bukharin, Lunacharsky, Krupskaya, Kallontai, and some Trotsky also realized that the revolutionary spark had created a new scene. There were conflict, hesitation, and self-contradiction even among the Avangard's. Anatoly Lunacharsky was a supporter of Avangard in government. He was in the education department. Lenin's wife, Nadia Krupskaya, also worked in this department. Paper shortages during the Civil War led to intense controversy. Should they print promotional leaflets or Mayakovsky's new poems? Lenin was in favor of printing leaflets. Lunacharsky thought Mayakovsky's poetry would be much more effective. The poem was printed till the end.

Lenin was also hostile to the notion of "proletarian literature and art." He thought that from a broader point of view, in a country where the state of culture is so low, bourgeois culture and its ancient predecessors cannot be surpassed by mechanical and dead formulas. In this case, no shortcut method will work. In the bad times after Lenin's death, it was indisputably proved by the ‘socialist realists’. Creativity was wasted. A state of liberation that would transcend the state of necessity and make everyone's life rational was never created in the Soviet Union. In that sense, it is not made anywhere.


About the Creator

Shoaib Rahman

Shoaib Rahman is a British-Bengali author, entrepreneur, atheist activist, film director, & screenwriter. Rahman is the chief editor of Fadew. He is a correspondent for American Atheists. He made his directional debut with Thusment (2023)

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