Brodsky Explains Lenin

You saw the statues of Lenin falling in Ukraine, but maybe wondered about the significance? Let me let Joseph Brodsky explain:

“I began to despise [Lenin] when I was in the first grade – not so much because of his political philosophy or practice, about which at the age of seven I knew very little, but because of his omnipresent images which plagued almost every textbook, every class wall, every postage stamp, money, and what not…In a way, I am grateful to Lenin. Whatever there was in plenitude I immediately regarded as some sort of propaganda.” From Less than One.

Brodsky goes on to detail the different types of Lenin images one would come across (baby Lenin looking like a cherub with blond curls; Lenin addressing the “masses” from the top of an armored car; etc.).

As I read Brodsky’s essay, I was reminded of a book that I found while visiting my husband’s grandparents in Ukraine. The title was “Always We Remember Lenin” and it was a child’s picture book of Lenin’s life.


Brodsky was writing about Lenin’s ubiquitous image from his childhood in the 50s, but even today a child’s book of Lenin images still exists. And statues of Lenin still dot the Ukrainian countryside.


Lenin the statesman. Lenin the soldier. Lenin the messianic figure who says “let the little children come to me.” Young Lenin the chemist.

A century separates us from this man, but still he evokes vastly different responses (like this opposed to this).


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About Stephanie Y.

I'm a professional news writer in Frederick, Maryland. I blog at S.Y. Ciphers.

2 responses to “Brodsky Explains Lenin”

  1. Vanda says :

    Love your stories and posts, but with this one, I would like to see your more elaborated conclusion. Not about what to think, but where in what direction to look! Love you!

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