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Russian Periodicals of the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries

Three centuries of Russian journalistic endeavour are represented on the shelves of the Russian periodical stock. The collection covers the whole range of such publications from the earliest journal, which appeared in 1755, to the latest magazines. Virtually the entire history of the country is reflected here, a chronicle of its affairs, achievements and errors. Besides actual periodicals the stock includes the transactions of learned societies and institutions, bulletins and other ongoing publications in Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian.

The collection is justly noted for its pre-revolutionary section, with a place of honour going to items from the eighteenth century. Among these are publications by the great Russian enlightener Nikolai Novikov, Andrei Bolotov's Ekonomichesky magazin (Economic Magazine), Mikhail Kheraskov's Poleznoe uveselenie (Useful Amusement) and Svobodnye chasy (Leisure Hours), Aglaya and Rastushchy vinograd (The Growing Vine).

The Golden Age of Russian journalism produced a host of different genres and directions: the publications of Slavophiles and Westernizers, revolutionary democrats and populists, publications on socio-political, religious, literary, artistic, professional and other issues, children's magazines and others. Here we find Sovremennik (The Contemporary) which Pushkin founded, Otechestvennye zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland) of Pavel Svin'in and Andrei Kraevsky, Nikolai Polevoi's Moskovsky telegraf (The Moscow Telegraph), Vladimir Korolenko's Russkoe bogatstvo (Russian Wealth) and other journals which helped to shape contemporary thinking. Prominent among the illustrated, artistic and satirical magazines of the turn-of-the-century Silver Age were Mir iskusstva (The World of Art), Vesy (The Scales), Zolotoe Runo (The Golden Fleece), Apollon, Niva (The Cornfield), Ogonek (The Light), Khudozhestvennye sokrovishcha (Artistic Treasures), Starye Gody (Bygone Years), Budil'nik (The Alarm-Clock), Shut (The Jester) and the celebrated Satirikon. Special mention should be made of the satirical publications of 1905-07 which provide a unique insight into the period of the first Russian revolution.

The library has an exceptionally comprehensive stock of the publications of different learned societies, educational institutions and other organizations, including the Russian Geographical Society, the Society for Russian History and Antiquities, the Academy of Sciences, the universities and municipal dumas. The oldest publication of this kind is Russia's first agricultural journal, Trudy Vol'nogo ekonomicheskogo obshchestva, which began appearing in 1756.

A large proportion of the pre-revolutionary periodicals are of a religious nature: a complete set of eparchial gazettes, theological, ecclesiastical and spiritual magazines. Many of them can now only be found in the National Library of Russia.

The collection also contains a rich stock of publications for children. Across the Russian Empire 242 children's magazines were being produced before the revolution. The majority of them, including the highly popular Zadushevnoe slovo (Cordial Word), are now in the library.

"White" and "Red" periodicals give us a fascinating chronicle of the events of 1917 and the subsequent period of civil war and foreign intervention. Although unimpressive in terms of design and printed on poor paper, these publications — Ezhenedelnik VChK (The Cheka Weekly), Vestnik zhizni (Herald of Life) and Plamya (Flame) — have preserved truly priceless information about that dramatic era.

The 1920s saw a resurgence of journalism in the country with periodicals such as Pechat' i revoliutsiya (The Press and the Revolution), Katorga i ssylka (Hard Labour and Exile), Prozhektor (Searchlight) and LEF (the journal of the Left Front in the Arts), earning themselves a permanent place in the history of the press. The same period saw the first appearance of publications that have been familiar reading-matter for several generations of Soviet people, among them Novy mir (New World), Zvezda (Star), Molodaya gvardiya (The Young Guard) and Krokodil (Crocodile).

Today we are witnessing the rebirth of religious, spiritual and family periodicals. The library's collection now also features publications produced by Russians living abroad. These include items returned from "special storage" such as Sovremennye zapiski (Modern Notes) and Volya Rossii (Russia's Will) and new acquisitions such as Kontinent, Grani (Frontiers), Novy zhurnal (The New Journal) and other publications created by the third wave of emigres.

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