The great voyage

The great voyage is not the one that takes you far or lasts long. The great voyage is the one about which you feel the need to write a diary or a logbook, a travel blog, mirabilia Urbis and Milione, even if you ultimately fail to do so.

Such a voyage was in the last century, in 1937 to go up from Tula to Moscow, laying not quite two hundred kilometers far, to the celebrations of the seventh of November. A member of the Ivanov family – presumably the head of it, as the male hand suggests it – collected all the documents of the journey in a log opened for this occasion.

They went by fast train, buying tickets for three persons. They went there on 5 and came home on 9 November. We have no document about where they spent the three nights. A hotel is almost certainly excluded. More thank likely they lived with their Moscow relatives, in a kommunalka.

For the day of arrival they planned “getting acquainted with Moscow, our beloved capital”. As the tickets indicate, they arrived by the metro, opened recently, on 15 May 1935, to the Red Square, where they wished to see first of all the mausoleum. However, “to their great bitterness”, it turned that “the entrance to Ilyich” is paused from 3 to 9 November. Therefore they only walked around the Kremlin, and then, as witnessed by the top ticket, on the same day went to the zoo. On the following page – here below – the sights of the Kremlin are detailed, including the walls and the churches, in particular the Saint Basil’s Cathedral (“now a historical museum”), and the beautiful mosaics. Then they walked about the streets of Moscow. And on the 6th they went to the planetarium.

On the same day, 6 November they returned once more to the zoo, this time “to another section”. Then they went to a circus. They were delighted. “How beautiful is everything in our capital!” is repeated three times on this page.

Their enthusiasm is confirmed by the detailed program of the circus, which began with the Stalin Song by Suleiman Stalsky. I only found it in a late version, on the 1988 CD of the Kommunism Band, strongly influenced by the estrade music of the period, but this is just perfect for a circus overture.

“Song about Stalin”. Moscow, Bolshoi Teatr, 1949

Сулейман Стальский: Песня о Сталине (performed by Коммунизм, 1988)

Живое двигая вперёд,
Могучих партия ведёт,
Шагает трудовой народ,
И ты их знамя, Сталин.

Для всех трудящихся, как свет,
Горишь ты с юношеских лет,
Ведя туда, где горя нет.
Где только радость, Сталин.

Идут года — за годом год,
Нас охраняешь от невзгод,
И дальний виден небосвод
Тебе, вершина, Сталин.

Ты вражью жадность иссушил,
Ты нас победам научил,
Ты в руки слабых ключ вручил
От новой жизни, Сталин.

Известен всей вселенной ты,
Деяний славных мастер ты,
Познавший мысли бедноты.
Тебе пою я, Сталин!
Life moves forward,
Powerful Party leads us,
The working people walks ahead
And you’re their banner, oh Stalin.

For all workers, as the light,
You shine on with your youth,
Leading to where there’s no sorrow,
But only joy, oh Stalin.

The years go by, year after year,
You guard us against adversity,
And the distant sky is visible
For you, our summit, oh Stalin.

You have killed the greed of the enemy,
You have taught us victories,
You have given key to the weak hands
To the new life, oh Stalin.

You’re known throughout the universe
You’re master of famous deeds,
You live in the desires of the poor,
To you I sing, oh Stalin!

Robert Capa, “Song about Stalin”, Moscow, 1947

The rest of the program also abounded in exciting items: acrobats, including the Kadyr-Gulyam group jumping from camels and the riding dzhigits of the Ali Bey group, trained bears and horses, trapeze artists, jugglers, tightrope walkers, tightrope cyclists. The show was closed by a ballet.

On the celebrations organized for the twentieth anniversary of the Revolution on 7 November a detailed description was made. The family took part in the Red Square parade in the ties of the Voroshilov factory, which shows that even guests could not individually roam about on this occasion. They were lucky, as they saw Comrade Stalin just before he left the platform on the top of the mausoleum. In the afternoon they walked in the city, and for the evening they were invited to the house of some friends.

On the eighth they went to the Pushkin Museum – this was the one whose paintings were so much damaged from 1958 to 1990 by the evaporation of the gigantic open-air swimming pool established on the place of the Christ the Savior Cathedral. They were impressed by the size of the museum as well as by the large number of exhibited objects, and especially by the real mummy they saw there.

According to the last page, on the same day they also wen to the Tretyakov Gallery, where they “saw the paintings of many artists and a lot of beauty”. And the diary is closed by a personal exhibition: “Tram tickets of our capital.”

2 comentarios:

Effe dijo...

Around the World in Eighty Tickets

TC dijo...

A mesmerizing (and haunting) reminder that the "off-screen action" (what I suppose we are reduced to calling History) has only an oblique, shadowy relation to the palpably personal.

And yet, and yet...