She later divorced Vasily Lunacharsky and married Antonov, but Anatoly kept his former name. From , he studied at the University of Zurich under Richard Avenarius for two years without taking a degree. Career[ edit ] In , Luncharsky returned to Russia, where he was arrested and sent to Kaluga in Siberia through —, when he returned to Kiev. In February , he moved in with Alexander Bogdanov , who was working in a mental hospital in Vologda , Russia. In , he attended the International Socialist Congress , held in Stuttgart. Like many contemporary socialists including Bogdanov , Lunacharsky was influenced by the empirio-criticism philosophy of Ernst Mach and Avenarius.

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I shall only refer to what I know of him from our personal relations and to my own direct impressions of the man. After that I heard no more than rumours of his arrest and exile at Krasnoyarsk [6] with Martov [7] and Potresov. The next book to reach us was On the Development of Capitalism in Russia.

It seemed to me at the time as was indeed to be the case that this book would give the death-blow to all the misconceived notions of Populist Narodnik [10] ideology. I was in exile when news of the 2nd Congress [11] began to reach us.

This was the time when Iskra [12] had begun publication and was already consolidating its position. I had unhesitatingly declared myself a supporter of Iskra, but I knew little of its contents because although we did get all the issues, they reached us at very irregular intervals. The first clause [16] of the Party statute — was this really something which justified a split? We were disturbed more than anything else by this split and tried, from the meagre information which filtered through to us, to unravel what on earth was going on.

There was no lack of rumours that Lenin was a trouble-maker and a splitter, that he wanted to set himself up as the autocrat of the Party at all costs, that Martov and Axelrod had refused, as it were, to swear fealty to him as the Grand Cham of the Party. This interpretation was, however, largely contradicted by the stand taken by Plekhanov, whose initial attitude, as we know, was one of close and friendly alliance with Lenin.

We Marxists had nothing to gain by such rapid changes of position. In short, we were somewhat in the dark. I should add that the comrades in Russia who supported Lenin were also rather vague about what was happening. If we are to mention personalities, it was undoubtedly A. Bogdanov [18] , who gave him the most powerful support. If he had not sided with Lenin things would probably have progressed a great deal more slowly.

But why did Bogdanov associate himself with Lenin? It soon became clear what sort of people were drawn to each of the two factions: the Mensheviks attracted the majority of the Marxist intellectuals in the capitals; they also had an undoubted success among the more skilled working men; the chief adherents of the Bolsheviks were in fact the committee members, i.

These were largely made up of intellectuals of an obviously different type — not academic Marxist professors and students but people who had committed themselves irrevocably to their profession — revolution. Bogdanov by then had served his term of exile and was spending some time abroad.

I was absolutely convinced that he must have made a reasonably correct assessment of the problems and therefore, partly out of confidence in him, I also took up a pro-Bolshevik position. My exile over, I managed to see comrade Krizhanovsky [20] in Kiev; he at the time was playing a fairly big part in affairs and was a close friend of comrade Lenin, although he was wavering between the strictly Leninist position and one of conciliationism.

It was he who gave me a more detailed account of Lenin. He described him with enthusiasm, dwelling on his enormous intellect and inhuman energy; he described him as exceptionally kind and a magnificent friend, but he also remarked that Lenin was above all a political creature, that if he broke with somebody politically he would at once break off personal relations with him as well.

I spent several months in Paris, partly because I wanted to make a closer study of the causes of the Party split. However, once in Paris I immediately found myself at the head of the very small local Bolshevik group and was soon involved in fighting the Mensheviks.

Lenin wrote me a couple of short letters, in which he urged me to hurry to Geneva. In the end it was he who came to Paris. To me his arrival was somewhat unexpected. He did not make a very good impression on me at first sight. His appearance struck me as somehow faintly colourless and he said nothing very definite apart from insisting on my immediate departure for Geneva. I agreed to go. At the same time Lenin decided to deliver a major lecture in Paris on the subject of the prospects of the Russian revolution and the fate of the Russian peasantry.

It was at this lecture that I first heard him as an orator. Lenin was transformed. I realized that as a tribune this man was destined to make a powerful and ineradicable mark. I think it was on the day after the lecture that we, for I forget what reason, called on the sculptor Aronson [22] , with whom I was then on quite friendly terms. He pointed out to me the amazing resemblance between Lenin and Socrates. I should add, incidentally, that Lenin bore a much closer likeness to Verlaine than to Socrates.

One has to study him for a little while and then instead of the first impression of a plain, large, bald head one begins to appreciate the physical power, the outlines of the colossal dome of his forehead, and to sense something which I can only describe as a physical emanation of light from its surface.

The sculptor, of course, noticed it at once. Beside this, a feature which gave him more in common with Verlaine than with Socrates was his pair of small, deep-set and terrifyingly piercing eyes.

Only when he speaks do they become sombre and literally hypnotic. Lenin has very small eyes but they are so expressive, so inspired that later I was often to find myself admiring their spontaneous vivacity. The eyes of Socrates, to judge by the busts of him, were rather more protuberant. With Socrates, Verlaine and Lenin the beard grows in a similar way, slightly jutting and untidy. With all three the lower region of the face is somewhat shapeless, as if flung together as an afterthought. A big nose and thick lips give Lenin something of a Tartar look, which in Russia is of course easily explicable.

But exactly the same or nearly the same nose and lips are to be found in Socrates, a fact particularly noticeable in Greece where a similar cast of features was usually only attributed to satyrs.

It is the same with Verlaine. I believe, however, that if there is a grain of truth in the descriptions of him left by Xenophon and Plato, Socrates must have been a man of wit and irony and that in the lively play of his features there would, I submit, have been an even greater likeness to those of Lenin than the bust shows.

Equally there predominates in both the famous portraits of Verlaine that mood of melancholy, that minor-key air of decadence which of course dominated his poetry; everyone knows, however, that Verlaine, especially in the early stages of his drunken spells, was a man of gay and ironic temper and I believe that here again the likeness was more than is apparent. What is there to be learned from this strange parallel between a Greek philosopher, a great French poet and a great Russian revolutionary?

The answer is, of course — nothing. When I came to know Lenin better, I appreciated yet another side of him which is not immediately obvious — his astonishing vitality. Life bubbles and sparkles within him. Today, as I write these lines, Lenin is already fifty, yet he is still a young man, the whole tone of his life is youthful. In the worst moments that he and I lived through together, Lenin was unshakeably calm and as ready as ever to break into cheerful laughter.

There was even something unusually endearing about his anger. Despite the fact that of late his displeasure might destroy dozens, perhaps even hundreds of people, he was always in control of his anger and it was expressed in almost joking manner. I have often noticed that alongside that outward seething, those angry words, those shafts of venomous irony there was a chuckle in his glance and the instant ability to put an end to the angry scene which he had apparently whipped up because it suited his purpose.

Inwardly he remains not only calm but cheerful. In his private life, too, Lenin loves the sort of fun which is unassuming, direct, simple and rumbustious. His favourites are children and cats; sometimes he can play with them for hours on end. Lenin also brings the same wholesome, life-enhancing quality to his work. I cannot say from personal experience that Lenin is hard-working; as it happens I have never seen him immersed in a book or bent over his desk. He writes his articles without the least effort and in a single draft free of all mistakes or revisions.

He can do this at any moment of the day, usually in the morning after getting up, but he can do it equally well in the evening when he has returned from an exhausting day, or at any other time. Recently his reading, with the possible exception of a short interval spent abroad during the period of reaction, has been fragmentary rather than extensive, but from every book, from every single page that he reads Lenin draws something new, stores away some essential idea which he will later employ as a weapon.

He is not particularly stimulated by ideas that are cognate with his own thought, but rather by those that conflict with his.

The ardent polemicist is always alive in him. But if there is something slightly ridiculous in calling Lenin industrious, he is on the other hand capable of enormous effort when required. I would almost be prepared to say that he is absolutely tireless; if that is not strictly so it is because I know that the inhuman efforts which he has lately been forced to make have caused his powers to flag somewhat towards the end of each week and have obliged him to rest..

But then Lenin is one of those people who knows how to relax. He takes his rest like taking a bath and when he does so he stops thinking about anything; he completely gives himself up to idleness and whenever possible to his favourite amusement and to laughter. In this way Lenin emerges from the briefest spell of rest freshened and ready for the fray again. This fascination is colossal: people who come close to his orbit not only become devoted to him as a political leader but in some odd way they fall in love with him.

This familiar form of his name, Ilyich, has become so widespread that it is used by people who have never seen Lenin. When Lenin lay wounded — mortally, we feared — no one expressed our feelings about him better than Trotsky. Lenin was a good man to work with as an editor. In the first period of our life in Geneva up to January we spent most of our time on internal Party quarrels. He failed to attend a number of solemn discussion meetings and made no effort to suggest that I should go to them either.

He preferred me to spend my time on writing full-length papers and essays. In his attitude to his enemies there was no feeling of bitterness, but nevertheless he was a cruel political opponent, exploiting any blunder they made and exaggerating every hint of opportunism — in which by the way he was quite correct, because later the Mensheviks themselves were to fan their erstwhile sparks into a sizeable blaze of opportunism.

He never dabbled in intrigue, although in the political struggle he deployed every weapon except dirty ones. The Mensheviks, I should point out, behaved in exactly the same way. Relations between the factions were in any event pretty bad and there were not many of those who were political opponents at that time who were able to maintain any sort of normal personal relations. For us the Mensheviks had become enemies. With the forward march of revolutionary events, matters changed considerably.

Firstly we began to gain something like a moral superiority over the Mensheviks. It was then that the Mensheviks turned firmly to the slogan: push the bourgeoisie forward and strive for a constitution or at the best for a democratic republic.

We could feel firm ground under our feet. Lenin in those days was magnificent. With the utmost enthusiasm he unfolded a prospect of merciless revolutionary struggle to come, and set off in a passion for Russia. I next met him in Petersburg. Of course, even then he wrote a considerable number of brilliant articles and remained the leader of what was politically the most active of the parties — the Bolsheviks.

I watched him closely throughout that period, because it was then that I had begun to make a close study from good sources of the lives of Cromwell and Danton.

It was bitter news to hear that discussions with the Mensheviks, to define the precise bounds between the two factions, were even going on whilst Moscow was prostrate from the effects of an unsuccessful armed uprising.



When he was fifteen he joined an illegal Marxist study-circle in Kiev. Lunacharsky was aware of the lack of academic freedom in Russia so he decided to study social sciences at Zurich University. Lunacharsky was sentenced to internal exile in Siberia where he met Alexander Bogdanov, who later became his brother-in-law. Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters.


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I shall only refer to what I know of him from our personal relations and to my own direct impressions of the man. After that I heard no more than rumours of his arrest and exile at Krasnoyarsk [6] with Martov [7] and Potresov. The next book to reach us was On the Development of Capitalism in Russia. It seemed to me at the time as was indeed to be the case that this book would give the death-blow to all the misconceived notions of Populist Narodnik [10] ideology.


Anatoly Lunacharsky

Source: A. I FORTY years in the literary career of a great writer will always cover a large area on the ever-growing map of world culture. It is only at a distance that such a mountain range can be evaluated as a whole. All the more so since the mountain range that is Gorky has not yet been completed, and we hope to see him grow most wonderfully and gigantically for many years to come. And yet, forty years is a long time. When a person who has worked for forty years looks back from the vantage point to which life has brought him he sees a long and winding river whose source appears as remote as ancient history, while the ribbon itself acquires an integral significance which such a person wants to discover and establish for himself, and sometimes for others as well. It was approximately after forty years that Goethe, for instance, felt the irresistible need to comprehend the meaning of his life and his work and tell others about it.

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