I. M. Feigenberg Jerusalem, Israel
L. P. Latash Chicago, Illinois
Habent sua fata libelli ("Books have their own fate"), just like their authors. In both cases, an individual fate reflects the epoch, the social situation, and, in general, what is called the spirit of the times. The book by N. A. Bernstein On Dexterity and Its Development has its own fate, one resembling the fate of its author. Both were hard and dramatic, nearly driving the book and the author to the edge of annihilation, a fate similar to that of many people in Russia ( Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in the middle of this century. A great Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov, said, "Manuscripts do not burn." However, manuscripts and books did burn in the 20th century, both in Germany and in Russia. This book was lucky--it did not burn to ashes. More precisely, we are lucky to be able to read it.
We are going to describe briefly the biography of On Dexterity, the biography of its author, and the biography of some of his ideas. So, this chapter consists of three circles. There will certainly be intersections of the circles because some of the material is relevant to two or even to all three of the biographies. However, at each of these intersections, we try not to repeat the facts but to present their new meaning with respect to the book, its author, or his ideas.
Let us move half a century back, to Moscow of the middle 1940s, when the manuscript of this book rested on the desk of its author. The time was just after the end of 4 years of exhausting war with Nazi Germany and its allies. Despite