|Princeton University Library has acquired a full set of all 14 issues of Даешь (daesh’ or dayosh’ – “you give”), an illustrated magazine published in Moscow in 1929 and 1930. The masthead in the second issue gives an address on Tverskoi passazh (№ 11) for the editorial office, and names Mariia Mikhailovna Kostelovskaia as the editor-in-chief.
Bearing the generic subtitle “общественно-политический и литературно-художественный журнал” (sociopolitical and literary-artistic magazine), Даешь is a forum for the discussion of all things related to the still yet-to-gel sociopolitical, cultural and aesthetic expressions of the Soviet polity five years after Lenin’s death; two years before the end of the first five year plan, the dissolution of RAPP, and the establishment of Socialist Realism as the mandated narrative and representational mode of Soviet art and literature; and six years before the beginning of the Great Purges. The texts represent the preoccupations traditionally associated with the period following the end of the New Economic Policy and the introduction of the five-year plans: progress towards the objectives of the first 5-year plan, industrialization, the industrialization and productivity race with America, political correctness of the new Soviet art and literature and their relationship to pre-Revolutionary Russian art and literature, the economic motors which were to replace the private enterprise monetary economy of NEP and drive Soviet productivity and innovation, and the need to streamline the Party bureaucracy.
The magazine has a section where it publishes prose and verse by fledgling proletarian Soviet authors (the “литературная страничка”) and the first issue advertises a club for the workshopping of new talent and discussion of the education of the modern worker-writer. In one issue a lengthy piece contemplates the appropriate assimilation by exponents of the new literature of the oeuvre of Lev Tolstoy, often admired in Soviet literary circles as a proto-Socialist owing to his populism and criticism of the idle wealthy. There are equivalents to these pieces on pre- and post-Revolutionary literature (“The writer then and now”) for other art forms, including an item on music (“Music – for or against”), in which the author asks “Shall we make the violin a weapon of the class struggle? Whom will music serve – the bourgeoisie or the proletariat?” and adds “Our comrades who do not understand that music is one of the means by which we can influence the masses, organize them, incite them to struggle, and orient them within that struggle – they will answer that this is an unimportant question”.
Similar concerns are engaged vis-à-vis the theatre. One issue features an item entitled “On the new actor”, and Pavel Novitsky has a running theatre-review column in Даешь. The first issue contains his highly favorable review of Mayakovsky’s “Bedbug” (as staged by Meyerhold), in which he calls it “the first true Soviet comedy” and praises it for “exposing the enemy and delivering a precisely-aimed blow”.
Aside from the content concerned with literary and artistic culture, the magazine focuses on politics and the Soviet economy, with many items on productivity and innovation in agriculture and other industries. There’s a piece in the fifth issue by Stalin in which he disabuses “some of our “comrades” among the bureaucrats” (who had, presumably, expressed the sentiment that competitive economy was incompatible with the Socialist order) and explains that competition is the motor that drives productivity and innovation and an essential element in the construction of Socialism. The issues feature sardonic attacks on Trotsky and other traitors of the Bolshevik cause, and some, in retrospect, ominous calls to mount a purge (“чистка”) to rid the State apparatus of politically maladjusted elements.
The issues are richly illustrated, and include photographs and photomontage by Alexander Rodchenko, Boris Ignatovich, Dmitrii Debabov, and graphic images by D. Moor (Dmitrii Orlov), Aleksander Deineka, Vladimir Liushin, and Mechislav Dobrokovskii. Most if not all of the contributors of the photographic, photomontage and graphic components of Даешь were members of the avant-garde Constructivist group “October”, which also included among its membership Sergei Eisenstein. “October” was one of the avant-garde collectives against which proponents of realism in art and photography, such as ROPF (the Russian Association of Proletarian Photographers – Российское Общество Пролетарских Фотографов) were pitting themselves between the last years of NEP and the imposition of Socialist Realism in 1932.
This was a collaborative purchase paid for on the Graphic Arts and Slavic funds, with additional assistance from the Art History fund.