Vsia vlast’ sovetam! : October Revolution and the November 2017 Slavonic item of the month

This month, we look at a little ephemeral piece from the Catherine Cooke collection – a 1977 page-per-day calendar – soon to go on display online and in the Library’s entrance hall, and its entry for the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution.

1977 calendar; CCD.54.329.

When the Bolsheviks initiated their armed overthrow of the Provisional Government, in power since the February Revolution earlier that year, the date in Russia was 25 October 1917.  Elsewhere in Europe, where the Gregorian calendar had long been in force, it was 7 November.  The name of the October Revolution, however, as mentioned also in an earlier post, stuck in both East and West, even after the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the Soviets in 1918.

While the 25 October (the “Old Style” date for the revolution) entry in the 1977 calendar does make reference to the events of 1917, the chief entry for the revolution appears here on the page for 7 November (the “New Style” or Gregorian date).

The title wording in the lower band of the page, to the right of the date, announces the 60th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.  Lenin is the only subject of black ink here, standing out against a sea of red, with a flag declaring that all power should go to the soviets* (vsia vlast’ sovetam!) waving behind him.  *the administrative councils promoted by the Bolsheviks

The calendar is among several objects dating from 1977 in the Catherine Cooke collection, presumably collected by Dr Cooke herself during a visit to the Soviet Union.  Produced in an jaw-dropping print run of 16.5 million, the calendar cost 40 kopecks.

The calendar is one of several exhibits going on physical and electronic display in the next few days.  The online exhibition will track the first Bolshevik year, with items being added on a monthly basis, in co-curation with University undergraduates.  It had been due for launch on the 7 November anniversary, but revolutionary fervour had sadly spread to our exhibition software.  A further blog post will advertise both exhibitions when they do get off the ground in due course.  In the meantime, here is another preview exhibit – a 1927 Russian translation of the most famous eye-witness account of the revolution by a westerner, Ten days that shook the world by John Reed (Dzhon Rid here), the 90th anniversary of whose birth receives its own page in the 1977 calendar.

Mel Bach

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