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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ooooooh, shiny!

Covers of Soviet kids' books from the 1920s and 1930s!

The early years of the Soviet Union were a time of cultural and artistic ferment. The graphic style of that era has become so familiar that present day art and advertising often lifts designs from Soviet propaganda posters. Most people [including me, until now] don't realize that the same innovative graphics appeared in children's books of the time.


Soviet-era children's book

Fedorino gore [Fedora's grief], c. 1930.
[Cover art: V. Tvardovskii]



The book cover shown above comes from an excellent online exhibition of Soviet-era children's book covers from the collection of the International Institute of Social History in the Netherlands. In trying to find out more about Soviet children's literature, I also found an equally good online exhibit of Soviet kids' books from the special collections at Canada's McGill University. Both are big fun!

From the intro to the McGill exhibit:
Among the many radical changes in the Soviet Union after the 1917 Revolution, the transformation of children's books offers one of the most vivid reminders of the vast ambitions of the new social order. Building simultaneously upon the progressive legacy of the 19th century Russian literature and upon the dazzling tradition of Russian Futurism, a linguistic, literary and artistic movement that galvanized Russian intellectuals in the early decades of this century, post-Revolutionary publishing for children introduced a vast array of new measures that transmogrified this previously undistinguished genre. In addition to the powerful visual impact of the boldly designed books, there were marked increases in the number of titles published annually, a skyrocketing in the size of individual editions and the creation of an entire branch of the publishing industry dedicated solely to children's literature.

In the first decade after the Revolution, general book production climbed from 26,000 to 44,000 titles a year; the number of copies published rose from 133 million to 190 million. Children's books naturally followed the mass trend and a first printing of 100,000 and up was common.... Other significant factors included, on the one hand, an often blatantly propagandistic service to the demands of Communist education but, on the other, the possibility of creative refuge for major authors and artists unwilling or unable to participate in the standard celebratory odes to Soviet leaders.

Thanks to MetaFilter for the tip about the IISH collection.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:05 AM | Get permalink




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