Moscow: Komissiia po uluchsheniiu zhizni detei pri VTsIK i koop. izdatel’stva “Zhizn' i znanie”, 1924. Item #1047
48 pp. 17,5x13 cm. In original wrappers with decorated frame. Tear of the spine along the staple, some stains.
First edition. One of 10 000 copies. Extremely rare.
Signed by the author on the title page: ‘For the Library of the Sun of Russian Writers from the author. Iv. Lebedev. 22/VIII/1924’. The copy contains an enlarged version: some ink phrases complement the text on p.42.
One of the folk plays by the popular peasant writer Ivan Lebedev (1859-1949). It was ordered by The Commission for the Improvement of Children’s Life under the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. Headed by F. Dzerzhinsky, this institution was established to decrease the number of homeless children and existed from 1921till 1938. Among its activities were the directing of the working communes, the publication of relevant decrees, as well as fundraising campaigns.
Popular Lebedev’s works were staged and recited in rural areas. Provincial theatrical performances promoted new values of the socialist state and had more influence on peasants than cinema. The spectaculars were impressed by the main characters - young, promising, positive. There were Komsomol members, Red Army soldiers, provincial activists, who solved social tasks and found personal happiness. In the meantime, the antagonists were kulaks, priests, etc. Thus, conflicts between generations went alongside conflicts of economic and social systems.
“Mother and I turned to communism and we don't need to be churchly anymore” - a young female character said to her religious father. This book became a part of the mass anti-religious campaign denouncing clerics. The story itself told how provincial believers ‘got well’ and turned away from the church. It is seen even in a list of characters where almost everybody is described by relevant adjectives: “a rural priest - sloppy, shaggy, drunk-faced”, “priest’s cook - silly peasant woman”, but “24-year-old Red Army soldier”, “young and educated village man”.
Ironically the front cover design resembles a Christmas tree while the atheist Soviet state fought against this holiday. The lower edge features a monogram AK of an unknown artist.
Most likely, the copy was preserved up to our days because it was not used for stagings.
The only copy is located in The British Library.