Two Essays by Kirill Medvedev

A PDF of two essays by Kirill Medvedev, ‘An antifascism for everyone’ (originally ‘Антифашизм для всех’) and ‘Lenin, Stalin, the 90s’ (‘Ленин, Сталин, 90-х’). This completes my initial trilogy of posting some prose fiction, some verse, and some non-fiction, which is satisfying.

Medvedev is a writer I’m becoming increasingly obsessed with: he has a conception of how historical perspectives collide and interact that I find fascinating (which is most overt in the ‘Stalin’ section of the second essay, as well as his poem ‘history lies’, elsewhere on this blog), as well as an interesting writing style and challenging and well-argued perspective on the role of the modern Russian writer and activist. He also publicly renounced his copyright in 2004, meaning that, as far as I can tell, this is now as official a translation of Medvedev as any other (especially as his work is entirely posted in plaintext on his website or via facebook statuses).

My only regret in this translation is an image that gets lost: Medvedev calls Stalin a “неоднозначная фигура”, a phrase meaning simultaneously ‘a controversial/multiplicitous figure’ and ‘an optical illusion’ (the Russian is literally ‘a not-one-meaning figure’). This is a fantastic way to summarise the ability to switch between modes of perspective, just refocus your eyes and all of a sudden, he’s a different shape. In English, I can recreate the semantic meaning (more or less), but the emphasis and fun of the phrase is lost. Так бывает.

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