Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How to raise a child like Lenin

Don’t you lie – ever!
G. Shubina, 1965

Truth will triumph. It always does. However, I figure truth is a variable, so we're right back where we started from.

Galloway Gallegher, in "The Proud Robot" by Henry Kuttner

What a wonderful water-color poster it is! It gives a perfect opportunity to understand what Soviet educational system was about. Education is not only a social institution with kindergartens, schools, colleges and universities. These are the places where knowledge is passed on, but schoolbooks can not give an impression of what ideas all young soviet citizens were absorbing from the youngest age.

Honesty was one of the basic virtues. According to the point 7 of Moral Codex of Communism Builder approved at the 22 Soviet Party Convention in 1961, every Soviet Citizen was to be “Honest and sincere, was to be moral, was to be plain and modest in social and private life”.

In 1940 a talented Soviet writer Mikhail Zoschenko published his “Stories about Lenin” – a set of fiction short-stories abridged for children, with Vladimir Lenin as the main character. Every short-story was illustrating a virtue – kindness, courage, will, intelligence. The very first short-story called “Decanter” went back to Lenin’s child years. Once young Volodia went to his aunt where he occasionally broke a decanter. When asked neither Lenin nor the children he played with admitted the fault. Fortunately no punishment followed but Lenin’s remorse was torturing him for the next two months until he finally confessed to his mother. And only after that he managed to have a good sleep. A naive story told in a language simple enough for the young to read and comprehend it. So after the War “Stories about Lenin” became obligatory reading in all schools of the Soviet Union. The message was quite clear – Soviet leaders are the most honest and sincere people of the world and every Soviet child should do his best to be like them. Unfortunately in those schoolbooks there was no mentioning of the author of the “Stories”, as in 1946 Zoschenko was called the “most vulgar writer of all the Soviets’” for the humorous short-stories he was brilliant at writing, and got in disgrace. Again the bright fiction had loose connection with reality. Zoschenko was exonerated only after Stalin’s death in 1953.

1 comment:

Miki said...

Are you sure it is a water colour painting? At the first glance it looks like it could be, but I rather think it is charcoal and sanguine, because of the strong lines...
Anyway, a nice picture!
And a fabulous blog!