Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties

By Edmund Wilson | Go to book overview

THE POETRY OF
ANGELICA BALABANOFF

ANGELICA BALABANOFF is a once well-known Russian Socialist, who has been living of recent years in this country. The career of Comrade Balabanoff has involved her in political defeats which have brought her, also, much disillusion in regard to personalities and movements. She played an energetic and a high-hearted role in the campaigns of the Italian Socialists of the period before the first world war, and was a friend and confidante of Mussolini in his early pseudo-Socialist phase; she was a member of the Socialist minority who kept alive the Zimmerwald peace movement in Europe in the teeth of the belligerent nations; she joined the Bolsheviks in 1917, returned to Russia after the Revolution and became the first secretary of the Comintern. In those early days of the Soviet Union, she remained on good terms with Lenin, but was unable to reconcile herself to the splintering tactics of the Comintern leaders and the provocative methods of the Cheka, and was eventually eliminated in a way that today seems gentle, at the end of 1921, in the days before critics of the official line were forced to appear at public trials and confess themselves guilty of treason.

On her departure from the Soviet Union, as she was crossing the sea to Sweden, she found herself ill and depressed; and to fortify herself against seasickness, in

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