Wit Larded with Malice

Or: The Satirical Russian Magazines of 1905-08

In Russia, following a string of embarrassing defeats in the Russo-Japanese War and the infamous Bloody Sunday incident, during the period of the so called Failed Revolution, no less than 480 underground magazines sprung-up to voice the outrage of the many disparate groups and factions and movements—nihilists, anarchists, socialists,  Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, etc—which though unorganized, were united in their calls for Tsarist reform. This outpouring of printed materials, critical of the State, was no small thing in a country with a long history of strict censorship and brutal punishments for dissension. These many short-lived publications are referred to, collectively, as “satires.” 



That second to last picture, “Invasion”, I’ve seen before somewhere, years ago.  What a strange image to have evoke nostalgia for the public library.

posted on 08.12 at 01:52 PMJustin


Justin, you may be thinking of The Bolshevik by Boris Kustodiev, which is at the Tretyakov. I wonder if the two images have a common antecedent. Anyway, brilliant post, as is the one about the coca wine.

posted on 08.12 at 02:11 PM.


Hey guys, It just dawned on me that I’d forgotten to post the text from the intro to the book which I’d wanted to include. The post is now updated. -J

posted on 08.12 at 04:26 PMjmorrison


Wonderfully written and researched. I keep coming back to your blog for your pieces. They are truly exquisite :)

posted on 08.13 at 03:17 AMRicardo Reis


I don’t know why - I just did, it felt right after all - I awarded your site The Poetman Award…

posted on 08.14 at 01:41 AMPoetman


Hello…I came from Poetman’s site.  He’s so right.  Your site is beautiful.  Lovely pieces.  Thank you very much.

posted on 08.14 at 05:02 PMJulie


Pretty tough gig back then. I feel a kind of sympathy.
I feel like a spoiled brat too…

Beautiful illustrations, dark-like.


Thank you

posted on 08.14 at 11:03 PM.


Thanks all. My pleasure.

@Poetman: Thanks for the kudos. Appreciated. And believe me when I say I’ve often asked myself the same question you pose. Its’ been suggested to me that perhaps people were intimidated somehow. After I created the Annex however, with short digestible posts, I found I get even fewer there. Doesn’t much matter in the end I guess. Thanks again.

posted on 08.15 at 12:34 PMjmorrison


Public domain! And look how many of these cry out to be incorporated into a CD sleeve design.

This has a similar flavor to that book of Russian prison tattoos (which might be ripe for a repost?)

posted on 08.15 at 09:58 PM.

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