Friday, July 25, 2008

Russian Book Covers

I'm a big sucker for propaganda images, and loved these - admittedly quite intense! - children's book covers found in the McGill archives. There were many things wrong with Communism, but the adulation of the worker and indeed, the mythology that surrounded the idea of labour itself was, I think, quite beautiful. Michael Ondaatje - a favourite writer of mine - has, of course, said it much better:

"On the west side of the bridge is Bloor Street, on the east side is Denforth Avenue. Originally cart roads, mud roads, planked in 1910, they are now being tarred. Bricks are banged into the earth and narrow creeks of sand are poured in between them. The tar is spread. Bitumiers, bitumatori, tarrers, get onto their knees and lean their weight over the wooden bock irons, which arc and sweep. The smell of tar seeps through the porous body of their clothes. The black of it is permanent under the nails. They can feel the bricks under their kneecaps as they crawl backwards towards the bridge, their bodies almost horizontal over the viscous black river, their heads drunk within the fumes...

In winter, snow removes the scent of tar, the scent of pitched cut wood. The Don River floods below the unfinished bridge, ice banging at the feet of the recently built piers. On winter mornings men fan out nervous over the whiteness. Where does the earth end? There are flares along the edge of the bridge on winter nights - worst shift of all - where they hammer nails in through snow. The bridge builders balance on a strut, the flares wavering behind them, aiming their hammer towards the noise of a nail they cannot see."

-Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion, (pp. 27-28)


  1. How amazing are Russian propaganda posters?! I went to see exhibitions of them in both Barcelona and Budapest - I think that's where my love of vintage posters comes that weird?!

  2. Well I'm in the weird boat if that helps!

    Vintage posters make the world go 'round. xx


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