Works of David Riazanov

Marxists’ Internet Archive

David Riazanov

1870 – 1938

David Borisovich Goldendach. Born in Odessa, Ukraine, March 10, 1870. At 15, joined Narodnik revolutionaries. Arrested by Tsarist police, spent five years in prison. At age 19, made first trip to Russia Marxist circles abroad. When returning from second such trip in 1891, was again arrested at the border. After 15 months awaiting trial, was sentenced to four years solitary confinement and hard labor.

With the February Revolution of 1917, Riazanov returned to Russia. In August, he joined the Bolsheviks. In 1918, he began organizing Marxist archives. In 1920, Riazanov was made director of the new Marx-Engels Institute (which became the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in 1931). Soon, Riazanov’s emissaries were out buying up whatever copies of Marx/Engels works and letters they could find. As Dirk Struik noted in a brief 1973 introduction to Riazanov: “By 1930, [the Institute] possessed hundreds of original documents, 55,000 pages of photostats, 32,000 pamphlets, and a library of 450,000 books and bound periodicals. Apart from the administrative offices, the archive, and the library, it had working rooms, a museum, and a publishing department.”

A contemporary of that time described Riazanov:

“The impression he left was one of immense, almost volcanic energy—his powerful build added to this impression—and tireless in collecting every scrap about, or pertaining to, Marx and Engels. His speeches at Party congresses, marked by great wit, often carried him in sheer enthusiasm beyond the bounds of logic. He did not hesitate to cross swords with anyone, not even with Lenin. He was treated for this reason with rather an amused respect, as a kind of caged lion, but one whose bark or growl usually had a grain of two of truth worth listening to.”

Riazanov’s Menshevik sympathies finally caught up with him in 1930, when he was relieved of duties and spent more time in prison. Kirov granted him permission to return to Leningrad, but after Kirov’s assassination, Riazanov had to return to Saratov, where he died in 1938.

Essays on Riazanov

Political Biography by Boris Souvarine

An Essay on Riazanov’s Founding of the Marx-Engels Institute

Criticism of Riazanov's translation of Capital

Archived Works:

February 1924: The Posthumous Writings of Marx and Engels

1925: On Engels’s The Peasants’ War in Germany: Comments and Notes

1926: Karl Marx on China

1927: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (book)

1928: On Engels’ “Anti-Dühring”

1928: The Relations of Marx with Blanqui

July 1928: Lassalle and Bismarck

April 1929: The New Translation of Marx

eBooks by Riazanov

Thumbnail portrait of Marx
M.I.A. Library

Last updated on 9.6.2023