Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children's Literature 1920-35

The subtitle

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to this singular book by Redstone Press is 'Beautiful Books: Terrible Times': a short but terrifying phrase that speaks volumes. It couldn't be more apt however, as Inside the Rainbow is a treasury of images from Soviet children's picture books from the 1920s and 30s. That period – the first twenty years of Soviet rule after the Russian Revolution – was an incredibly rich time if you were a Russian writer or illustrator working on children's books, as somehow (presumably because the genre was not taken seriously) the books escaped censorship. As a result, the images are beautiful and inventive; infused with great charm and poetic irony, as well as full of hope for what was promised to be a Brave New World — all things that would soon disappear from their readers' lives. In many ways, it's a heartbreaking book. This is the first time such a compendium has been published in English, and Redstone have done a wonderful job of it. The introduction is by Philip Pullman, and there are extracts from some of the books themselves  – poems and stories – as well as fascinating chunks of texts by people like André Gide, Nadezhda Krupskaya (Lenin's wife), and others who were part of or witness to the Russian Revolution. 

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Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children's Literature 1920 - 35: Beautiful Books, Terrible Times
— Daisy
16th October 2013

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