Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) is considered to be one of the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century. He was a leading figure in the Russian Futurism movement, which was concerned with dynamism, speed, machinery and urban life. Its members, also, publicly repudiated the literature of the past, outlining their intention in the introduction of their manifesto: A Slap in the Face of Public Taste (published December 1912) to: “Throw Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy overboard from the ship of modernity.”
Rather than use words to express romanticized thoughts and sentiments, as did his literary predecessors, Mayakovsky believed they were the raw production materials for manufacturing new poetic techniques that experimented with and expanded language. To express modernity, he used street slang and discarded traditional poetic rhythms, such as, iambic and trochaic metres.
Throughout his career, Mayakovsky inextricably combined art and politics. He enthusiastically embraced the October Revolution, designing propaganda posters for the Russian state news agency; but his Avant-garde radicalism soon clashed with the culturally philistine Soviet State under Stalin, which he attacked in his 1928 play: The Bedbug. Sadly, Maykovsky’s increasing political disillusionment and artistic curtailment contributed to his depression that led him to take his own life at the age of only thirty-six.
The book in the photographs is a collection of Maykovsky’s plays, articles and essays in English translation, published by Raduga Publishers, Moscow, in 1987.
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