Faust and the City

Anatolii Lunacharskii has featured earlier in this exhibition, as the People’s Commissar for Education.  An author in his own right, Lunacharskii wrote the play Faust and the City initially in 1908, but only in March 1918 would he find himself writing the foreword to its first ever publication.

“Any reader who know Goethe’s great Faust will realise that my Faust and the City is inspired by the scenes from the second part of Faust in which Goethe’s hero creates a free city.  The interrelations between the genius and his brainchild, the resolution in dramatic form of the genius’ problems with his striving for an enlightened absolutism, on one hand, and democracy, on the other [the play sees Faust’s city journey from the former to the latter] – this is what exercised me for a long time and called me to this work.  Some who are familiar with my writings will think that this play is a lively reflection of the experience of the current revolution.  In this case, I consider it necessary to state that the text has not changed one bit since December 1916.”

The page on display here is an intricate coloured illustration from the 1918 publication.  The artist, Sergei Chekhonin, used his exquisite talents widely, from ceramic painting to book illustration.  It shows the Krasnyi angel, the Red Angel, above the city.

Faust i gorod / A.V. Lunarskii (1918) S756.b.91.19