Soviet Children's Books and more
April 9, 2003 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Children's books of the Early Soviet Era [more]
posted by hama7 (11 comments total)
The Collections: Rare Books and Special Collections Division, McGill University Libraries.
posted by hama7 at 6:48 AM on April 9, 2003

Good stuff, cheers hama7.
posted by plep at 7:04 AM on April 9, 2003

I have a set of history books for children published by the Sandinistas. I've been thinking of scanning the images and translating the text into english, but it's a big project.
posted by lisatmh at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2003

Really intriguing. Thanks, hama7.

The defining children's book of socialist Yugoslavia was this little blue book called Pionirka sem! Pionir sem! (I am a female pioneer! I am a male pioneer!) and it starts with the words: Za Domovino s Titom Naprej! (Forward for the Homeland and Tito!)

It's hard to imagine little children reading it, but the content doesn't get too hardcore beyond that. There's a lot about WWII partisans, lots of pictures of little kids with red sashes frolicking about, and the book ends with a moral lesson about children's duties, which are to study hard, respect their elders, take care of the sick, etc...

Since Yugoslavia ran on Socialism Lite, I'd be interested to know if Soviet books were a little more demanding. Or if they were pretty much the same.
posted by Ljubljana at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2003

Man, this is great; I love early Soviet design. I just wish they included more interior spreads. My favorite section, of course, is this, but they're driving me nuts by not giving the language of this one (last on the page):
Ghafuri, Mazhit, 1880-1934. Xeder anhat ul, elek qijin ine : ikense baima / M. Gefyrej. Ofo, R.S.F.S.R. : Jungiz, 1934. Description: 23 p. : ill. ; 15 x 22 cm. Notes: Title on p. 4 of cover: Teper legko ono, ran'she bylo trudno. Other titles: Teper legko ono, ran'she bylo trudno.
Of course, the reason it's driving me nuts is that they only used Latin transcriptions for Turkic languages for a few years before Stalin made everybody switch to Cyrillic, so it's hard to identify stuff from that intermediate period, which is probably why they couldn't identify it... never mind, I'm babbling. Great post, as per usual.

On preview: apples and oranges, Ljubljana. The Yugoslav books come from a much later period, when the stony hand of Stalinism was crushing everything to uniform flatness. These books come from the early days of Bolshevik triumphalism, when everything seemed possible and artists were allowed lots of leeway (so long as they didn't criticize communism, needless to say!). It didn't last long, but some magnificent stuff was produced. Check out MOMA's The Russian Avant-Garde Book exhibition (posted by taz here).
posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2003

lisamuth, that would be a great project. :)
posted by plep at 10:25 AM on April 9, 2003

My favorite SCTV episode comes to mind:

Stand By. Do not adjust your set. You are watching Telescreen. It is an offense to adjust Telescreen.

(Orson Welles over SCTV logo) "Big Brother Is Watching You Watching Telescreen" announcer - staff announcer

Komrade Kangaroo

Komrade Kangaroo makes a megaphone and uses it to eavesdrop on mommy and daddy. He then notifies Mr Screen. Next week: Bunny Rabbit will be vaporized and stuffed to make decorations for hate week.

posted by y2karl at 11:27 AM on April 9, 2003

A great link. Thanks hama7
posted by TimeFactor at 12:39 PM on April 9, 2003

oh, this is good, good,

posted by taz at 3:15 PM on April 9, 2003

Beautiful stuff. Exquisite examples of Soviet children's books were on display at MOMA last year as part of The Russian Avant-Garde Book, 1910–1934 exhibit.

More revolutionary kid lit.
posted by psychoticreaction at 11:56 PM on April 9, 2003

Whoops, missed languagehat's earlier post, all tired and shit.
posted by psychoticreaction at 11:58 PM on April 9, 2003

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