V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written December 20, 1898 Sent from Shushenskoye to Podolsk
Published: First published in 1929 in the Journal Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya No. 5. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 37, pages 212-213.
Translated: The Late George H. Hanna
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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December 20

Dear Maria Alexandrovna,

Today Volodya has unexpectedly gone out shooting so I am writing. Recently the frost here has been as much as 20° below zero, but today it is only two and a half degrees below and Volodya was tempted to go out with his gun, especially as the Shushenskoye sportsmen have a theory that this is the best time to go after grouse; the birds have not eaten during the heavy frosts and are now so busy eating that they do not see a man approaching. Volodya has taken somebody else’s gun because he has broken his own; the barrel proved to be made of cast iron and cracked merely from being dropped on the ice. We sent the gun to Minusinsk but the gunsmith there refused to repair it. And so we shall have to buy another. We have heard that a very good double-barreled gun is for sale in Minusinsk and Volodya is thinking of acquiring it.

We are now busy preparing for a trip to Minusinsk. Actually our preparations boil down to Volodya pinning a sheet of paper to the wall and writing down everything we have to buy in town. Mother is not going with us—first she said “no” because the road was bad, and now she says it is too cold. We are going on Christmas Eve and shall return on the first or second, so Volodya’s next letter will be from Minusinsk. I do not know whether Volodya told you that Kurnatovsky and the Lepeshinskys are coming to Minusinsk for Christmas, and that they intend to skate, play chess, sing, argue, etc. It looks as though we shall have a good time.

When the “markets” are finished there is a plan to settle down to the study of languages in general and German in particular. Volodya is ordering Pavlovsky’s Russian-German Dictionary from the warehouse and asks Anyuta to get hold of Turgenev in German and a decent German grammar.   I have heard that one of the best German grammars is that of F. Fiedler but I do not know for sure.

Oh, by the way, we suspect that our surmise about Zhizn[2] was incorrect. If so, it is not, of course, worth while subscribing to it.

We have received only one letter from Manyasha. Why doesn’t she write? Perhaps her letters do not reach us—she should register them. Volodya has come home and is making a fuss about my staying indoors and not going skating. So I shall close now. “Happy New Year!” Kisses for you and Anyuta, regards to D.I. and M.T.[1] Mother sends best regards to all. There is nothing to write about at the moment, but there may be after Minusinsk. Again, kisses,


I add my New Year’s greetings.

With regard to the translation of Turgenev—I should think it would be best to enquire at Wolfe’s and at the same time to get a catalogue of Reclam[3] editions. It does not matter to us which of Turgenev’s books you get, the only thing is that the translation must be a good one. We should like a German grammar that is as complete as possible, especially as regards syntax. It would probably be better if it were in German. Perhaps we should go over to Wolfe altogether for ordering books and for information. Kalmykova’s warehouse is not very forthcoming with information; I asked them to get me a reprint of N. Karyshev’s article “Material on the Russian National Economy” from the Second Issue of the second part of Izvestiya Moskovskogo selskokhozyaistvennogo instituta for 1898, but they refused to fulfil my request or even send me the address of Izvestiya. Can you get it?

All the best,
V. U.


[1] Dmitry Ilyich Ulyanov and Mark Timofeyevich Yelizarov.—Ed.

[2] Zhizn (Life)—a literary, scientific and political journal published in St. Petersburg from 1897 to 1901. In April 1902 the publication of the journal was again started abroad by the Social-Democratic group Zhizn (V. D. Bonch-Bruyevieh, V. A. Posse, V. M. Velichkina, G. A. and M. A. Kuklin, and others).

The group ceased to exist in December 1902 and the publishing office was closed down.

[3] Lenin here refers to the German firm of Reclam that published several thousand booklets on literature (Universal Bibliothek) at 20 pfennigs each.

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