Moscow: izdatelstvo komissii pomoshchi detiam pri prezidiume Mossoveta, 1924. 224 pp.: ill. 34x26,5. Original illustrated cardboard. Few bumps of the edges, but generally a very good copy.
First edition. One of 10000 copies produced. Very rare.
Of all the kaleidoscope of the editions dedicated to the death of Lenin, this one gives the widest overview of the perception of the leader at the time. The contributors of the collection are numerous and eclectic, and the man, responsible for putting the materials together - the professor of medicine, one of the organisers of the Soviet medical system, Nikolay Semashko (1874-1949), who knew Lenin quite well, fits perfectly for the purpose.
The different sides of Lenin’s life are represented in the panegyric: his economical views, the approach towards the science, foreign policy, etc. The whole edition could be considered naive comparing to the propaganda o fthe mid-, late- 1930s, when the art of praise of the ‘great leaders’ was taken to the new levels, but the principles were sampled and canonised after 1924, Lenin’s death became one of the main reasons.
If we regard the 1930s as the heyday of the Soviet propaganda parade book (paradnaya kniga - the term coined by Mikhail Karasik), this particular edition should be viewed as a early prototype of the tradition, well-established in Stalinist times.
The team of artists who worked on the edition is equally eclectic - they represent the spectrum from realism to avant-garde with possible deviations on the way. Alexander Shpir’s best known for his illustrations of Soviet fantasy writings of the 1920s-’30s and in some of his headpieces for the book we could see the cosmic motifs. Georgiy Pashkov (1886-1925), the designer of the first Soviet stamps, uses more traditional approach, his woodcuts resemble Chekhonin and echo his icon painter background. Nikolay Vysheslavtsev and Alexey Rybnikov, Failliev, Bekhteev, Ivanov also contributed to the different elements of the book design.
The works reproduced in the section ‘Lenin in Art’ include the sculptures, monuments and portraits. The works correspond well with the elements of typographic design of the artists mentioned above, especially portraits by Georgy Vereiskiy and Natan Altman and the proposed design of the monument to Lenin in Leningrad by professor Vladimir Schuko, the monument that was built, but in simpler design. Shchuko is best known for his design of the palace of the Soviets.
Worldcat shows copies at Amherst College, the British Library, National Diet Library (Tokyo).