He who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe

an exhibition of books which have survived Fire, the Sword and the Censors

University of Kansas Library 1955

Foreword ] Prelims ] England ] Germany ] [ Russia ] France ] Spain ] United States ] Various Countries ] Afterword ]


RULHIERE, CLAUDE CARLOMAN de. Sometimes attempts are made to suppress a book before publication (see Aldington). Rulhiere came to St. Petersburg in 1760 as secretary to the French embassy. After he returned to Paris, society was so curious about his experiences in Russia that he wrote Histoire, ou Anecdotes sur la Revolution de Russie; en l'année 1762.* He read parts of it around Paris so that, while it was still in manuscript, Catherine II heard about it. First she sent agents to buy the MS. Then she tried to have Rulhiere intimidated and threatened with the Bastille by French officials. He resisted every threat and temptation, only promising not to publish the book until after Catherine's death; which he did in 1797.

RADISHCHEV, ALEKSANDR N. Puteshestvie iz Peterburga v Moskvu [Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow], 1888.Click here for a more detailed image The first in a long series of literary works critical of serfdom, the Journey met with vigorous reprisals by the Russian government. After a preliminary draft had been passed by the censor, the final extended version was privately printed by the author in 1790. The first twenty-five, or fifty, copies (the sources disagree) had hardly been sold (and a few more copies given away by Radishchev himself) when the police, under orders from Catherine the Great, seized the remaining copies and tried to retrieve those already distributed. The author was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. This sentence was later commuted into ten years of exile in Siberia. Radishchev was pardoned seven years later and completely rehabilitated in 1801, but he was not able to readjust himself, and committed suicide in 1802.

The book in its first edition is of great rarity (only 17 copies are known now to exist). Still, its contents were well known in Russiamainly through handwritten copies, of which more than 30 are recorded. Not until 1905 was the publication of the Journey permitted in Russia, except for a greatly abridged edition in 1868 and two bibliophile editions in 1888 and 1889. The present is one of 100 copies of the 1888 edition, itself rare, particularly in Western countries. In an 1816 bibliography of books printed in Russia up to 1813, Vasilij Sopikov tried to include the preface of the Journey along with its titles, etc. This was forbidden by the censor, the leaf in question had to be destroyed, and the book shows now a blank page following the mention of the title of the Journey. (By Werner Winter.) (Sopikov lent by Harvard University.)

TOLSTOI, LEV NIKOLAEVICH. The Kreutzer Sonata. 1889. Because some of his works could not be published in Russia, the Russian editions of titles such as The Church and The State appeared first in the 1880's in Germany, Switzerland, and England. The Kreutzer Sonata, carrying Tolstoi's views on the role of sex in marriage, was forbidden by the U.S. Post Office Department in 1890. Part of the battle that followed was Theodore Roosevelt's denunciation of Tolstoi as a "sexual and moral pervert." In 1904, the work was allowed in this collected edition, published at Boston. Italy and Hungary have in the past banned all Tolstoi's works.

TOLSTOI. Tak chto zhe nam delat'? (What is to be done now?) Written in 1884-5, this work of Tolstoi was suppressed in Russia until after his death. Only severely abridged parts were included in the collected edition, Moscow, 1897. Meanwhile an edition (not quite complete either) had been published by Elpidin at Geneva; this was the basis for the first American translation, New York, 1887. Interestingly enough, the first complete edition was the German translation, Jena, 1911, which preceded the first complete Russian edition. On exhibit are the Moscow, New York and Jena editions (latter two lent by W. Winter).

DOYLE, SIR ARTHUR CONAN. Some works of his were banned in Russia in 1929 because they dealt with occultism and spiritualism.

ZOSHCHENKO, MIKHAIL. The best known representative of contemporary satirical writing in the Soviet Union. When the lessening of government and party control of the literary production came to an end in 1946 (during the war, artistic expression had been relatively free, though by no means as free as during the first decade after the revolution), he was singled out as an example of non-constructive writing and severely attacked. Since all book production is government-controlled in the USSR, this meant elimination of part of Zoshchenko's work from the book market. (By Werner Winter.)

BOLSHAIA SOVETSKAIA ENTSIKLOPEDIA. After the execution of Lavrenti P. Beria in December, 1953, articles praising him in the Soviet Union had to be re-written. By April, 1954, the Library of the University of California was one of the few U.S. libraries to receive the "replacement" for the Great Soviet Encyclopedia—an extended article on the Bering Sea. The University of Kansas copy remains the same.

Foreword ] Prelims ] England ] Germany ] [ Russia ] France ] Spain ] United States ] Various Countries ] Afterword ]

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