Red Arts

The arts were major weapons in the Bolsheviks’ work to embed the revolution in the minds and hearts of the people.  This book, October in art and literature, 1917-1927, was contributed to by one of the most important figures in this area – Anatolii Lunacharskii.  The Council of People’s Commissars (also known by its Russian acronym Sovnarkom), effectively the executive body of the Bolshevik state, had been set up after the Revolution, and Lunacharskii was one of its first Commissars.  His responsibility was for prosveshchenie – education, or enlightenment.  Lunarcharskii oversaw major initiatives such as the drive to stamp out illiteracy and the use of agit-prop trains to spread the message of the revolution.

Lunacharskii’s contribution to the book whose cover is on display is a piece called “Theatre and cinema”.  It is the first of the five chapters which make up the book; the others are “Our literature” (A.K. Voronskii), “Musical life” (E.M. Braudo), “Painting” (Vs.V. Voinov), and “Artisanal and artistic industry in the USSR” (D.M. Aranovich).  The striking cover illustration, shown here, is the work of Sergei Chekhonin.

Okti︠a︡brʹ v iskusstve i literature, 1917-1927 / avtory A.V. Lunacharskiĭ … [et al.] (1927)  CCB.54.124