Gorbachev’s collected works : the August 2016 Slavonic item of the month


The portraits from v. 1 and 26 of the newly acquired set

This month, we look at a recent political addition to the collections – the works of Mikhail Gorbachev – and examine the publications of his Soviet leader predecessors.

The University Library already holds dozens of titles by Gorbachev, chiefly from his 1985-1991 time in office.  The earliest is the 383-page ‘Izbrannye rechi i stat’i’ (Selected speeches and articles; 231.c.98.626) which is followed by a mixture of very short printings of speeches and much longer books.  The majority of our Gorbachev material is in English.  Russian comes a fairly distant second, and Chinese, German, and Belarusian account for the remainder.  Among our stock are biographies (Russian at 586:95.c.95.297-298; English at 586:95.c.95.315) as well as Soviet and post-Soviet political writings.

By the time Gorbachev’s works started to be published as a collected corpus, Politizdat (short for Izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury) – the official Soviet political publishing house – had long ceased to exist.  The set is instead being published by the private Ves’ Mir publishers in Moscow in conjunction with the Gorbachev Foundation.  Between 2008 and 2015, 26 volumes were published, covering the period of November 1961 (starting with a speech by the 22-year-old Gorbachev to the Stavropol’ Komsomol committee) to July 1991, with the Foundation’s preface to volume 1 stating clearly the intention for the set to cover the post-1991 period too.  The Library has managed to pick up 24 of the 26 volumes this summer, with volumes 22 and 25 lacking at the time of writing.  We intend to fill these gaps and order future volumes as and when they are published.  The volumes we have already can be ordered through the Reading Room from C211.c.5890- .

The University Library holds a large amount of publications, chiefly in Russian and English, by the seven main Soviet leaders.  A brief examination of the main titles by each follows below.  The vast majority of these are to be found in the Communism section (classmark 231) in South Wing 6.  This is one of the most overcrowded floors in the open Library stacks, so we try to avoid putting much new material there.  This is why the Gorbachev set has been classified to the closed (but borrowable) C200s classmark sequence.

A brief look at the UL’s catalogue gives an indication of the publishing records of the seven leaders.  The following are numbers of catalogue records on Newton today per leader where they are noted as the author or co-author: Lenin – 189, Stalin – 58, Khrushchev – 41, Brezhnev – 57, Andropov – 8, Chernenko – 14, Gorbachev – 81.  Malenkov, who held power briefly between Stalin and Khrushchev, is represented by only 3 titles; one is the 14-page eulogy he read at Stalin’s funeral (item 1 in 9586.d.103).

Please note that while many items by the Soviet leaders are on the electronic catalogue, many briefer works are still represented only in the card catalogue.

Lenin rather stands apart from his successors.  As we will see, the posthumous publication of Lenin’s collected works under his immediate successor (and many more times thereafter) was a pattern never to be repeated, given the swing to disapproval of one’s predecessor that so many Soviet leaders experienced on coming to power. The University Library has several full editions of Lenin’s works:

  • a 30-volume 1935 Russian edition (231.c.93.89-118)
  • a 55-volume 1958-65 Russian edition (231.d.95.84-138)
  • a 47-volume 1960-70 English edition (231.d.96.1-47)

Stalin‘s main publishing output was the 13-volume ‘Sochineniia’ (Writings) printed in Russian between 1946 and 1951.  Details of the UL’s holdings are below.  ‘Sochineniia’ covers the period of 1901 to January 1934, and at least three more volumes were originally slated to follow.  The Hoover Institute published their version of volumes 14-16 in 1967 and this was followed by a rather staggered publication in Russia of volumes 14-18 in the post-Soviet era.  The University Library unfortunately lacks both these later additions to the set, a situation we intend to remedy.

  • the 1946-1951 Russian edition of v. 1-13 is at 231.d.94.27-39
  • the 1952-1955 English edition is at 231.d.95.13-25

Covers of Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Chernenko, and Andropov books

An earlier blog post has talked about the 1959 ‘Secret Speech’ of Khrushchev and its editions in the Library’s collections.  Khrushchev’s removal from power in 1964 is reflected in an unsurprising patchiness in publications.  No collected political works was published under his successor, and the UL’s first book by Khrushchev published in Russia after his fall from power dates from as late as 1999.

  • ‘Vremia, liudi, vlast” (Time, people, power; 586:94.c.95.290-293), the 4-volume 1999 publication of Khrushchev’s memoirs
  • the memoirs had first been published in the West in English, produced initially in 1970 as ‘Khrushchev remembers’.  The UL’s most recent edition is the 3-volume 2004-7 edition ‘Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev’ (586:94.c.200.33-35)
  • Khrushchev’s chief non-memoir publication was the 8-volume ‘Stroitel’stvo kommunizma v SSSR i razvitie sel’skogo khoziaistva’ (The construction of Communism in the USSR and the development of rural economy), published from 1962 to 1964.  The set covers almost his entire tenure, from September 1953 to March 1964.  Presumably another volume would have followed, to reach his departure in October 1964, had there been political appetite for it.  The UL’s set (231.d.96.104- ) is sadly incomplete at the time of writing, lacking 2, 7, and 8.

Brezhnev has rather more to show than Khrushchev.  His memoirs were expanded after his death, with the authorship particularly of the 3 last chapters a point of controversy.  The fullest version is lacking at the time of writing in the UL but the chief 1983 edition is now on order [update: a copy now stands at 9004.d.6498].  Brezhnev’s main political work was ‘Leninskim kursom’, a multi-volume collection of speeches and articles which was published from 1970 to 1982.  Among our Brezhnev holdings are:

  • the 9-volume ‘Leninskim kursom’ (Following Lenin’s course; 231.d.97.246-254)
  • ‘Izbrannye proizvedeniia’, a 3-volume 1981 selection of works (231.c.98.83-85)
  • the Library has only scattered English-language holdings; these can be found by doing an advance search combining “Brezhnev, Leonid” as author and English as the language of the material

Andropov‘s brief time in power saw much fewer publications than those by his predecessors, and no books were published after the year of his death.  Given the many theories about Andropov and the Soviet Union he might have led had he survived for longer, it seems a particular shame that fuller sets of his writings are not available.  The University Library has a selection of what has published, including:

  • the 558-page 1984 selection of speeches and articles entitled ‘Leninizm – neischerpaemyi istochnik revoliutsionnoi energii i tvorchestva mass’ (Leninisim is an inexhaustible source of revolutionary energy and creativity of the masses; 231.c.98.482) and the more general 319-page 1983 ‘Izbrannye rechi i stat’i’ (Selected speeches and articles; 231.c.98.318)
  • and in English, the 262-page 1983 ‘Speeches and writings’ (586:95.c.95.6)

The poor health from which Chernenko was already suffering when he assumed office in 1984 meant that – as with Andropov – few works were produced by him during his brief time in power.  Moreover, the Gorbachev administration was dismissive of Chernenko as a Brezhnev throwback (Gorbachev was seen as Andropov’s successor).  Chernenko’s chief publications in the UL are below.

  • the 669-page 1984 ‘Izbrannye rechi i stat’i’ (Selected speeches and articles;  231.c.98.384)
  • the 256-page 1984 English selection’Speeches and writings’ (9230.b.120)

Mel Bach

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