Hello HQ readers! Additionally, I may have accidentally purchased Communist propaganda.

Welcome to my site! I was really excited to be featured on this month’s HQ Quarterly, a fine publication back in my home state of New Jersey.

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Isn’t it nice?

 As you can see, I’m gearing up for the release of the newest book in my Paths series, Path of Pins.  The story takes place in Manhattan and Prague, and follows Kat Finnegan as she discovers that there’s more to the world–and her family–than she’d ever thought possible.  

Path of Pins launches on March 14th, but you can learn more about the series by clicking on the Paths tag below. If you’re here for more poetry (in which case I’m flattered!) try the poetry tag. 

Which brings me (kind of not really but hey, non-sequitors are fun) to the second part of today’s post: Communism. 

For those not in the know, I’m currently living & teaching English in Prague, in the Czech Republic. On my way to work this morning I ran across a used bookstore with 5 kc books for sale. Combing through, I found a couple of ancient books in English, one of which was a thin volume of O. Henry stories. I bought them both, not really looking at them too hard. I may or may not have been late for work. 

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Imagine my surprise when I take out my O. Henry book on the metro, and find this on the back:

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Yup–that’s Cyrillic script, and by my deductions, Russian. You can see that its also from 1972, when Czechoslovakia was in the throws of USSR rule. And then there’s these quotes from the preface:

“This book comprises 15 stories…which are…unknown to the broad English reading circles in the USSR.”

Ok, USSR? Check. And the audience is clearly English speakers (probably non-native) from the USSR, which would have included Czechoslovakia at the time. 

“…these stories show the grim realities of the American mode of life where the dollar rules supreme.”

Anti-capitalist, and targeting America specifically? Double check. 

“…but they all [characters] in their own way reveal the essence of bourgeouis society & the laws that govern it.”

Oooh, bringin’ out the ‘b’ word. Classy, text. Very socialist-republic of you. 

Finally, to hammer home the message:

“…if this book has awakened a new interest in the reader for [O.Henry]…hitherto known just as a brilliant humorist but not as a relentless exposer of capitalist America, the work has not been done in vain.”

Ouch. 

So, yeah. Best find ever? Best find ever. My guess is that this was circulated amongst language students as an example of a native text that was also palatable to the anti-capitalist crowd. Here’s my question now: was O.Henry a socialist? Or are his works being appropriated here? 

I don’t know but this was definitely the best thing I’ve bought in this country. Perhaps ever. It’s real history, man! 

If only the publication information wasn’t in Russian, I might be able to find out more. On the front cover it does say “Home-Reading Library.” A clue? Perhaps. 

 

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2 thoughts on “Hello HQ readers! Additionally, I may have accidentally purchased Communist propaganda.

  1. That book must have been for publication within the Soviet Union itself, not Czechoslovakia (apologies to the Czech Republic and Slovakia). It isn’t surprising that it would have made it to another Eastern Bloc country, though. The anticapitalist preface may be relevant to the story selection, but I bet it was just a pretext to publish a collection of English-language stories without arousing suspicion.

    “This book comprises 15 stories…which are…unknown to the broad English reading circles in the USSR.”

    That sentence would be unknown to the broad English reading circles in the US—no one over here uses “comprises” correctly.

    Great find!

  2. Pingback: What’s That? Only 10 Days Till Path of Pins?!? …Also updates on yesterday’s propaganda | HannahKollef

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