Author Archives: Thomas Keenan

Бредовые англо-американизаторы (Feverish Anglo-Americanizers) – 1951


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This volume is a collection of Post World War II caricatures produced by the “Kukryniksy”, a trio of artists who met in the early 1920’s at the ВХУТЕМАС (Высшие хужожественно-технические мастерские, “Higher Art and Technical Studios”): Mikhail Vasil’evich Kupriianov (1903-91), Porfirii Nikitich Krylov (1902-90) and Nikolai Alexandrovich Sokolov (1903-2000). The group’s moniker was a conflation of the members’ names and surnames, and their functioning as a single unified artistic agent was presented – both by the artists themselves and in the contemporary Soviet reception of their works – as an exemplary instantiation of the Soviet ethos of triumphant collectivism.

“Our collective, to tell the truth, is made up of four artists: Kupriianov, Krylov, Sokolov and the Kukryniksy. All three of us treat the fourth with great care … that which is created by the collective is beyond any of our individual capabilities.”*

Known primarily for their caricatures produced for satirical publications and agitprop materials, the Kukryniksy also produced paintings in the Realist and Socialist-Realist traditions, taking for their subjects contemporary political and military figures and events, as well as Soviet literary works and literary works from the nineteenth-century Russian canon. They held to a strictly orthodox Soviet ideological orientation in all their works. Their paintings lionized the heroes of the Revolution and of the Great Patriotic War, and vilified their domestic monarchist and foreign Nazi-Fascist foes. In their caricatures their early-1930s satirical targets were kulaks and other domestic class enemies of the proletarian dictatorship, who gave way to the Spanish Fascists later in that decade and to the Nazis during the second half of World War II. The Kukryniksy were awarded the Stalin Prize numerous times for plying their art in the service of the Soviet State and using their trenchant and sardonic visual wit against its enemies.

In this 1951 assembly of caricatures the Kukryniksy take satirical aim at the Soviet people’s newest antagonists, their erstwhile allies against the Nazi scourge – the English and American Capitalist Imperialists.

This purchase was financed by the Slavic and Graphic Arts funds

The volume is housed in the Princeton University Library Graphic Arts Collection.

*“Наш коллектив, по правде говоря, состоит из четырех художников : Куприянова, Крылова, Соколова и Кукрыниксы. К последнему мы все трое относимся с большой бережностью и заботой … то, что создано коллективом, не смог бы осилить любой из нас в отдельности.” Вавилов, С.И. (глав. ред.). Большая советская энциклопедия. 2. изд. Москва : Большая советская энциклопедия. 1950-1958.

East View Election Ephemera Collection


Princeton University Library has purchased a database of digital and digitized ephemera associated with recent highly controversial elections in four republics within the territory of the Former Soviet Union. The materials in these collections document some of the most crucial events in the struggle of post-Soviet fledgling democracies against opposing anti-democratic forces working to reëstablish top-down power structures, often with the support of a Moscow Kremlin maneuvering to reassert dominance over the newly independent states of the region and reverse the centrifugal disaggregation of the post-Soviet sphere. East View Information Services has assembled a body of digital documents associated with recent elections in Russia, Belarus, South Ossetia and the Ukraine, documents produced by legislative bodies, state agencies of electoral oversight, registered and unregistered candidates and political parties, domestic and foreign independent observers, and opposition and protest organizations and movements. The collections contain both digital surrogates of print-format materials gathered on-site and born-digital documents harvested from the Websites of government agencies, political parties and candidates, blogs, etc.

The first collection contains materials associated with the 2010 Presidential Election in Belarus which resulted in the reëlection of the highly controversial incumbent Alexander Lukashenko and drew intense international scrutiny for reputed widespread violations of electoral regulations and human rights, including freedoms of speech, assembly and the press.

The second collection is composed of documents associated with the State Duma Elections in Russia in December 2011, which fomented the watershed митинг на болотной площади, set in motion a groundswell of protest and gave rise to the vigorous opposition movements which have presented the first serious challenge to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

The collection of ephemera related to the 2011 and 2012 Presidential Elections in South Ossetia documents one of many instances in the Commonwealth of Independent States of alleged aggressive anti-democratic practices deployed in the struggle between forces seeking to consolidate power over larger regions, and forces seeking to establish more local independence. Moscow’s support of South Ossetia in its 2008 effort to establish independence from Georgia was largely viewed as part of a larger project to reëstablish Russia’s political dominance over the other Former Soviet Republics. The 2011 Presidential contest in South Ossetia, which ultimately came down to a race between the presumedly pro-Russian candidate Anatolii Bibilov and the dark horse former Minister of Education Alla Dzhioeva, was judged to be so pervasively corrupted that the following year there was a second election in which all of the 2011 candidates were barred from running.

The Russia Presidential Election 2012 collection contains digitized and born-digital ephemera documenting the complex landscape of fierce protest and propaganda wars amid which Vladimir Putin reassumed the presidency for a third term.

The 2012 Parliamentary Elections in the Ukraine collection documents one in a long series of episodes in the struggle between West-facing Ukrainian forces and Moscow’s push to reassert dominance over the Ukraine and prevent it from forming stronger relations with Western Europe as an independent entity, a struggle spanning from the 2004 Presidential Elections and the ensuing Orange Revolution, to the increasingly violent struggle currently playing out on the streets of Kiev. International observers for the most part judged that electoral regulations had been respected in the 2012 Elections and that the process had been fair and its results valid, but there were extra-procedural circumstances which seemed to bespeak a much darker political reality. These circumstances include imputed abuses via law enforcement agencies and other channels, and the fact that former Prime-Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, one of President Viktor Yanukovich’s fiercest opponents, remained incarcerated in what is widely viewed as a political imprisonment.

Document genres represented in the collections range from: official regulatory documents and reports issued by electoral commissions and other government agencies; reports produced by independent observer organizations; promotional materials (fliers, cards, leaflets, calendars, newsletters, posters), financial disclosure statements, legal statements, programmatic statements and other documents and materials issued by parties and candidates (registered and unregistered); texts of speeches and transcripts of interviews given by candidates; complaints filed alleging misconduct and violations of electoral regulations; reports of exit-poll data and public opinion polls; materials produced by opposition and protest groups (fliers, cards, placards, newsletters, pamphlets, booklets); photographs taken at demonstrations and protests; blog posts.

These collections are available to the Princeton community through the East View Universal Database Portal accessible through the Library’s Database List.

First-Edition Copy of Pasternak’s Translation of Hamlet


First-Edition Copy of Pasternak’s Translation of Hamlet

A rare copy of the first edition of Boris Pasternak’s famous Russian translation of Shakespeare’s classic. When, in the early 1930’s, socialist realism was first established and enforced as the only officially sanctioned mode of narration and representation in literature, Pasternak withdrew from the sphere of contemporary literary authors and turned his hand to translation. He would produce translations of Goethe, Schiller, Keats, Shelley, Verlaine and several works by Shakespeare. His translation of Hamlet was widely celebrated and has in some sense become a Russian literary classic. It was published in 1941, several years into Pasternak’s silence as a poet and 15 years before his largely autobiographical novel Dr. Zhivago was first published by the Italian communist publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.

Purchased by the English and American Literature fund
Held in the division of Rare Books and Special Collections.
One of 4 copies listed in North American libraries.

1944 Edition of Russian Translations of Garcìa-Lorca, 3 by Tsvetaeva


1944 Edition of Russian Translations of Garcìa-Lorca, Including 3 by Tsvetaeva

The poetry of Garcìa-Lorca would likely have been deemed suitable for translation and publication in the Soviet Union in the 1940’s because the Spanish poet is widely perceived as having been martyred by Franco’s Nationalists at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. He may also have seemed a particularly congenial figure to the Soviets in the early 1940’s by virtue of the posthumous publication in 1942 of his 1929 collection of verse Poeta en Nueva York, which was written after the stock market crash and expresses the poet’s violent reaction against American capitalism. This 1944 volume of Russian translations of Garcìa-Lorca’s verse includes translations of three poems from his Cante jondo by Marina Tsvetaeva, who had committed suicide in 1941 two years after her return to the Soviet Union from a life as a Russian émigré poet in Paris.

This volume is one of several recent acquisitions of Soviet-era Russian translations of communist-sympathetic or leftist Western authors. See also Two Soviet-era Russian Translations of Doris Lessing.

1 of 2 copies listed in North American libraries.

This volume is housed in the Princeton University Library Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

This was a joint purchase financed by the Latin American & Iberian and Slavic funds.

Two Soviet-era Russian Translations of Doris Lessing


Two Soviet-era Russian Translations of Doris Lessing

Copies from the original editions of Doris Lessing’s first appearance in Russian: Муравейник – the 1956 translation of her 1953 novel The Antheap – and Марта Квест – the 1957 translation of her 1952 novel Martha Quest. Lessing is one of a number of Communist-sympathetic Western writers whose works were published in Russian translations in the Soviet Union. She developed an interest in Marxist politics while living in Rhodesia and joined the Communist party when she moved to London in 1951. By the time these two translations were published, however, Lessing had already become disillusioned with Communism because of its “propensity for dogmatic and tyrannical thought”*, a theme addressed in subsequent works such as A Ripple from the Storm and The Golden Notebook.

These volumes complement a series of recent acquisitions of Soviet-era Russian translations of communist-sympathetic or leftist Western authors. See also 1944 Edition of Russian Translations of Garcìa-Lorca, 3 by Tsvetaeva.

Муравейник: Rare Books (Ex): Item 6751932
Марта Квест: Rare Books (Ex): Item 6751934

The only copies listed in North American libraries.

This was a joint purchase financed by the English & American Literature and Slavic funds.

*Raschke, Debrah. “Lessing, Doris.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. : Oxford University Press, 2006. Oxford Reference. 2006. Date Accessed 25 Dec. 2013

Count Carlo Brentano de’ Grianti Journal (1795-1801)

Count Carlo Brentano de’ Grianti Journal (1795-1801)

Count Carlo Brentano de’ Grianti Journal (1795-1801)

An unpublished autograph manuscript journal in two volumes by the Milan Music Conservatory founder and Director of Theatres Count Carlo Brentano de’ Grianti, featuring an extensive and detailed record of his visit to Russia and the Russian court at the end of the 18th century. The author’s position gave him access to aristocratic society in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and he was a frequent guest at the court of Catherine the Great. His journal gives a lengthy account of the circumstances surrounding Catherine’s death in 1796, her funeral, and the accession to the throne of Paul I. It also reports on Paul’s coronation in Moscow in 1797, at which the author was present, and on the author’s travels between St Petersburg and Moscow. Descriptions of his visits to various towns and regions are given, including local customs of the noble circles in which he moved. Many Russian noblemen and women, among them some of the most famous in Russian society at the time, figure in Brentano’s narrative. Buildings in St Petersburg and Moscow, their furnishings and art collections are described in great detail. The travelogue is accompanied by itemized accounts of the author’s expenses during the trip.

In the second volume, Brentano describes the government and reforms of Catherine the Great, and his visits to Kronstadt (the seat of the Russian Admiralty), and the royal residences of Tsarskoe Selo, Peterhof and Oranienbaum. He writes of the role of women in Russian society, their enthusiasm for learning Italian and reading Metastasio, Ariosto and Tasso and gives accounts of the customs and pastimes of women and men of the Russian aristocracy. The journal records Brentano’s visits to St. Petersburg during Carnival, Holy Week, and Easter, when he attends midnight mass and witnesses the distribution of eggs made of porcelain, glass, sugar, and filigree. The manuscript concludes with some notes, probably written in Vienna a few years later, documenting the fear which swept Vienna around Christmas 1800 on account of the progress of the French in Austria. Another note speaks of the death of Paul I in 1801, attributed first to sickness, but later, in a second note, to the action of his enemies.

The text of the journal is written in Italian and French.

Rare Books: Manuscript Collection (MSS) C0938 (no. 649).
Purchased with funds given by the Deputy University Librarian with additional support from the Music & Performing Arts and Slavic funds.