Unknown fairy-tales by Korney Chukovsky - in the Presidential Library collections

31 March 2018

March 31, 2018 marks the 136th anniversary of the birth of Korney Ivanovich Chukovsky - poet, publicist, literary critic, translator and, of course, one of the most famous Soviet children's writers. More than one generation has grown on his tales. "Moydodyr", "Mukha-zokotukha", "Tarakanische", "The Adventures of Bibigon", "Fedorino Gore", "Aybolit" ... But very few people are familiar with the fairy tale "We Defeat Barmaley!", which has been under an unofficial ban for more than half a century. An electronic copy of the unique edition is available on the Presidential Library portal.

The last of the cycle fairy tale about the good doctor Aybolit and the evil robber Barmaley was written in the most difficult period for the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War - in 1942.

Chukovsky at this time, along with his eldest daughter and two grandchildren, was evacuated in Tashkent, worked in the Republican Commission for Assistance to Evacuated Children. He did not write fairy tales for about eight years, explaining this by saying that he "did not want to chant himself", but, meeting daily with children whose lives were destroyed by the war, he decided on. The work was hard. "Night. I do not sleep at all. I'm writing a new fairy tale. I started it on the February 1. At first, it was not written at all ... But on the night of March 1st and 2nd, I wrote dozens of lines straight as a dozen somnambulists. I wrote poetry sooner than I usually write prose; feather barely kept up with thoughts. And now it's stalled. Written before the words: You, the machine-gunner ... And what to write next, I do not know", - complained in his diary Chukovsky in the very beginning of March 1942. This is not surprising: he was worried about his sons Nicholas and Boris and their family, with whom he was separated by the war.

On April 1 of the same year Chukovsky writes in his diary: "Birthday. Exactly LX years ... Gifts at my birthday are like that. Boba is missing. The last letter from him - from October 4 last year from near Vyazma. Kolya is in Leningrad. With a damaged leg, on the most dangerous front. Kolya - became homeless: his flat was bombed. I obviously burned all my dacha in Peredelkino - with the entire library, which I collected all my life". Gloomy forebodings did not deceive the writer: as will become known later, Boba - the youngest son of Chukovsky Boris, - returning from intelligence, died in the autumn of 1941. Nicholas survived by a miracle: during the bombing, he was delayed because of the bridging of the bridges, and when he came to his house, he found that only ruins remained from him.

And "with such cards on his hands" Chukovsky wrote a "cheerful victorious tale" ... Although the "cheerful" in the struggle of the inhabitants of the country Aybolitia: hares, squirrels, cranes, deer and other cute and brave animals - against bloodthirsty jackals, jaguars and rhinoceroses by chapter with merciless and insidious Barmaley was a little. For example, how does a villain appear in a fairy tale: "He stands with his boas, / With his wolves bloody / Around him baboons filthy / On the grass drunk fell apart. / He stands over gay villages, / He stands over the cheerful fields / And mumbles in a meaningless voice: / "To destroy! To kill! / To bomb! / No people, / No children - / No one to spare!"

The whole fairy tale is a military chronicle of struggle not for life, but for death, in which machine guns are fired, grenades are broken, guns rumble. The inhabitants of Aybolitia are forced to live according to the laws of wartime. When the enemy is defeated, the defeated Barmaley is sentenced: "You are a traitor and a murderer, / Marauder and a buckler! / You listen, bloodsucker, / National judgment: / Hateful pirate / Shoot from the machine / Immediately! / And immediately on a quiet morning of autumn, / At eight o'clock on Sunday, / The verdict was carried out".

Later, Chukovsky was often scolded for not childish rigidity of the work. But ... what times - such fairy tales are. According to the writer, he wanted to inspire even small children that "in this Holy War, the battle is for the high values ​​of world culture, humanism, democracy, social freedom". To better represent the ideological goals of the war, he used the image of his kind, wise, self-sacrificing Aibolite and "set him against the destructive and vile power of fascism". And he spoke about it in a language understandable to every child, linking fairy-tale events with what the children heard on the radio every day.

Before completing the work, Chukovsky read the chapters for the children and suggested that they invent names for them. The writer did not flirt with the children - he really used their advice, preparing the work for printing. So, with the names of chapters invented together with the boys, the fairy tale was later released in "Pionerskaya Pravda".

Chukovsky showed his fairy tale to the adults, including colleagues in the literary shop - Anna Akhmatova, Alexei Tolstoy, who were like Chukovsky at the time in evacuation in Tashkent. In a letter to his son Nikolai Kornei Ivanovich wrote that Akhmatova, Tolstoy and other "understanding people ... say that this fairy tale will be the best one".

First, excerpts from the fairy tale were published in the newspaper “Pravda Vostoka”; and in August it was fully printed in “Pionerskaya Pravda”. In 1943 the fairy tale was released in separate books in Yerevan, Tashkent and Penza (these are the ones that are on the portal of the Presidential Library).

"We Will Defeat Barmaley!" it was written at the height of the Battle of Stalingrad and was accepted by readers and literary critics with a bang. But already in the second half of 1943, the year of the radical change in the Great Patriotic War, a barrage of criticism fell upon it. The author was accused of even mocking the information bulletins of the Information Bureau. As a result, the fairy tale was taken from the collection of Chukovsky that was being prepared for publication, and Stalin personally was crossed out of the anthology of Soviet poetry for the 25th anniversary of the October Revolution. On March 1, 1944, “Pravda” published a devastating article by P. F. Yudin, Director of the OGIZ, "The vulgar and harmful concoction of K. Chukovsky", where "We Will Defeat Barmaley!" was recognized not just as nonsense, but as "politically harmful" nonsense: "Military Tale by K . Chukovsky describes the author as a person who either does not understand the writer's duty in the Patriotic War, or consciously vulgarizes the great tasks of educating children in the spirit of socialist patriotism".

The military tale by K. I. Chukovsky in the Soviet Union was not published more. About the struggle of the brave inhabitants of the country Aybolitia with a ferocious Barmaley army was forgotten for almost half a century. Only in the 1990s Kornei Chukovsky's fairy tale "We Will Defeat Barmaley!" was released.

The electronic copy of the unique edition of 1943 today is available on the Presidential Library portal. In total, the Presidential Library collections contain more than 600 thousand items.