Alexander Jacobson

alj3@princeton.edu
Articles by Alexander Jacobson

A Soviet Imprimatur on Imperial Smut: Politizdat’s “Luka Mudishchev” as Parody of the Soviet Book

On January 11, 1970, the British émigré newspaper Wiadomości reported on the publication of a new Russian book, a pocket-sized volume that had been a London bestseller during late 1969. In its article, Wiadomości emphasized the volume’s pedigree, writing “[t]he book was published in Moscow by the Central Committee of the CPSU, the editorial board was composed of eight of the most eminent members of the Soviet Writers…the book is dedicated to Sholokhov, and the preface was written by Furatseva, the Minister of Culture.” However, after laboriously establishing these credentials, the newspaper continues in an unexpected direction: “the reader, so prepared, opens the book – and is unable to believe his eyes.” Rather than a work of socialist prose, the book constituted an edition of Luka Mudishchev, an infamous pornographic poem popularly attributed to the eighteenth-century poet Ivan Barkov.

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