Moscow: lithography of the factory of board games, [1939-1940]. [14 pp.] 16,5x21,5 cm. Cardboards. Very good.
Rare first unrecorded edition. Not in the Worldcat, Russian National or State Libraries.
The propaganda book produced for Belarusian children soon after WWII began and the Western part of nowadays Belarus was annexed by Soviets in November of 1939. From 1921 to 1939 the territories of Western Belarus belonged to Poland but after The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Poland was divided by Soviet and the Nazis and the Western Part of Belarus became the part of USSR.
The book uses anti-Polish rhetoric in which the wealthy Polish kids are not allowing Belarusian children to play in their gardens and declaring the ‘pan-free’ Belarus. It’s worth noting that in the 1930s almost half of the population of Western Belarussians had stated Polish as their native language. The annexation led to mass immigration and sovietization of Western Part of Belarus. In less than two years banks and businesses were nationalized, religion banned, the ‘money excesses’ were liquidated from the households and the military bases built. The swift nationalization led to the emergence of the black market and deficit.
The book, one of the pages of which showing Soviet tanks running over the Polish border post, promises quite a different scenario of Soviet life in Belarus, but such was the usual pathos of children’s propaganda books of the Stalinist period.
The author of this book is one of the most unorthodox Russian poets of his generation, Alexander Vvedensky (1904-1941), whose modernist and absurdist poems didn’t make it to print during his lifetime, but circulated in samizdat throughout the Soviet times and now are considered one of the most complex and progressive texts of the Russian Silver age. In his zaum’ poetry Vvedensky took the ideas of Alexei Kruchionykh to a new level. Vvedensky was one of the close allies of Daniil Kharms, with whom he created the group OBERIU (The Union of the Real Art), the group preached absurdism, primitivism in poetry, claiming that for their movement only meaningless phenomena is of interest. After Samuil Marshak’s suggestion both Vvedensky and Kharms started to write for children’s magazines ‘Yozh’ and ‘Chizh’ and publish children’s books such as this one in which the reader could not find (or could he?) any traces of absurdism.
At the time of the publication of this book Vvedensky lived in Kharkiv. He was arrested soon after the publication and days after the Nazi invasion and died in December of 1941 of unknown causes in captivity aged 37.
This book is not recorded in Vvedensky’s bibliographies.
Elena Safonova (1902-1980), the designer of this book, was an avant-garde artist and the student of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. She started as a constructivist, making wrapper designs for the art theory publications of LEF writers, later switching to children’s books. She was close to Vvedensky in the 1930s, illustrating his tales in children’s periodicals. Later she became the designer of children’s games and toys, many of her works remain unrecorded, also working as a stage designer in theaters and circuses of Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad and Sverdlovsk.
Not in the Worldcat, Russian National or State Libraries.