A Letter To Stalin

A Letter To Stalin

HONORED JOSEPH VISSARIONOVITCH:

One who has been condemned to the supreme punishment—the writer of this letter—appeals to you for commutation of his punishment.

My name is no doubt known to you. For me, a writer, to be deprived of the right to write is the equivalent of the death penalty. Furthermore, my situation has become such that I cannot continue my work because work is inconceivable if it must be carried out in an atmosphere of systematic persecution that grows year by year.

It is not my intention to put on an act of outraged innocence. I know that in the three or four years after the revolution there were things in my writings which lent themselves to attack. I know that I have the unfortunate habit of saying not what is opportune at a given moment, but what seems to me the truth. Particularly, I have never concealed the feelings that servility, complaisance and conformism in literature arouse in me. Such things I have always regarded—and continue to regard—as degrading both to the writer and to the revoltuion. And precisely this question, which I dealt with in the review House of Arts (No. 1, 1920) in an incisive way which many found offensive, was the signal for launching a press campaign against me.

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