Samuil Marshak: 1887-1964

By Eidelman, Tamara | Russian Life, November-December 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Samuil Marshak: 1887-1964


Eidelman, Tamara, Russian Life


Back in the perestroika era, all of Moscow clamored to see Henrietta Yanovskaya's marvelous Goodbye America, at the Young People's Theater. The production was supposedly based on "Mister Twister" by Samuil Marshak, but in fact the fairytale show had very little to do with the ideologically-surefooted tale that we all knew from childhood about

  Mister
  Twister,
  Former minister,
  Mister
  Twister,
  Businessman and banker,
  Owner of factories,
  Newspapers, and ships ...

  [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

... who came to Leningrad and refused to stay in a hotel because a black person was among the guests. After some time in the Soviet Union, he quickly came to see things differently.

Yanovskaya's play had less to do with Mister Twister than it did with the image of America in the minds of a generation that could not dream of one day seeing the United States. But Marshak's presence could be felt and, after an hour and a half of side-splitting comedy, one of the actors suddenly stepped to the edge of the stage and addressed the audience:

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

  Kids, don't believe it. I don't wish to shock,
  But you have been tricked by your Uncle Marshak.
  This silly tale couldn't happen here,
  Not in the Hotel Astoria or even the chic Angleterre.

  [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Many years have passed, but from time to time I still ponder the question of the extent to which the marvelous poet and translator Samuil Yakovlevich Marshak deceived me and my fellow readers, that the facts of his life contradict the beauty of his art.

Marshak entered every Soviet citizen's world while they were still in early childhood. He came in the form of "Mister Twister," with lines that instantly stuck in your memory.

  If the daughter so wills it,
  No question! So be it.

  [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Or:

  You're not in Chicago, my dear.
  [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Or the charming "Tender Age in a Cage."

  Look at the little owlets
  Babies sitting side by side.
  When they are not sleeping,
  They are eating,
  When they are eating,
  They are not sleeping.

  [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Or the lady who "checked her baggage--a couch, a suitcase, a valise, a painting, a basket, a cardboard box, and a little doggie ..."

And of course there was the unforgettable "Oh, forgetful scatterbrain, who resides on Basin Lane," who "instead of putting on his hat, which was his daily plan, walked outside with head adorned by a frying pan" and who "to purchase the beverage he most often drank, went straight to his local savings bank." Furthermore, "having reached the station platform, he walked inside a railway car, but as it wasn't part of any train, he wasn't going far." Every now and then he would look out the window and ask what station he had reached and was always surprised to hear that the station was Leningrad.

These lines were such an essential part of our childhood, that today they easily roll off our tongues. Marshak's works, much like Griboyedov's verse comedy [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (known in English translation as The Woes of Wit or Woe from Wit) that appeared over a century earlier, spawned countless sayings--his words become our words.

Years passed, and the theatrical Marshak entered our lives. I remember one of my very first visits to the theater and the excitement I felt as the chandeliers of the Maly Theater gradually dimmed before the curtain was raised on Marshak's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Smart Things). And I cannot begin to calculate how many dozens of times I read and reread [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Twelve Months), feeling pangs of empathy for the poor stepdaughter, sent out into the pre-New Year's forest to hunt for snowdrops, or how I laughed at the young queen mangling the words of the dictation, "The grass is greening, the sun is shining.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Samuil Marshak: 1887-1964
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.