Pushkin House is the English-language partner of a web-based project giving users a unique way to experience the human drama of the Russian Revolution. In partnership with Project1917 in Russia, we are bringing you translations from their ambitious exploration of the thoughts and deeds of a remarkable group of people whose lives were caught up in fateful events of 1917. Drawing on primary sources, some previously unpublished, Project1917 provides daily postings on social media of selected writings by some 300 historical figures as they witnessed and participated in the making of history.
Listen in and learn about the everyday life of the Tsar’s family, or the plot to murder Rasputin. Track over the year the postings of poets such as Blok, Tsvetaeva and Mayakovsky, painter Malevich, or of revolutionaries Lenin, Kropotkin and Krupskaya, members of the Provisional Government, and many others. To make Project1917 more accessible for English speakers, Pushkin House posts regular translations, some of which will be appearing in English for the first time.
Project1917 provides an immersive, multimedia experience. The atmosphere of the time is evoked through a kaleidoscope of sources, most of them primary: diaries and letters as well as photographs, newspaper articles, poems, film and paintings. Users looking for help piecing together the broader narrative will also find a series of useful charts and diagrams created by the Project1917 team. While those fancying an encounter with Russia’s most notorious monk may visit the Rasputin chatbot on our joint Facebook page. Ask the Black Monk any question you like, and receive one of his famously cryptic and grammatically dubious responses.
Project1917 is led by journalist, writer and historian Mikhail Zygar, author of the recently-published All the Kremlin’s Men and former Chief Executive of Television Channel Dozhd. Zygar has assembled a group of 40 young historians (students, researchers, journalists) to carry out archival research to find evocative and original material relating to this pivotal moment in world history.
The Russian version of Project1917 commenced in November 2016 in Moscow and will run until January 2018. With the support of Pushkin House, an English-language Facebook page and website www.project1917.com was launched in February 2017, with a party at Pushkin House.
Throughout 2017, Pushkin House is holding a series of events in connection with Project1917: lectures, film screenings, exhibitions and performances.
Pushkin House Director Clem Cecil says: “we are delighted to be partnering up on this important project. We fully support the values and aims of Project1917 – to make the primary sources of 100 years ago available, without editorial intervention or spin. Zygar has assembled a fantastic group of young historians and researchers in Russia. It cannot be overstated how important the events of 100 years ago were: the lead up to the revolution, and the revolution itself, profoundly affected the course of world history. This is a playful, yet serious way to become immersed in those events.”
Project 1917 Director Mikhail Zygar says: ''The purpose of the project was to use social media not as service but as generator of art. To revolutionize the way of learning and teaching history. We consider it to be "educa-ment" - a mix of education and entertainment aimed at a much broader audience. You can watch it as a TV show day by day waiting for something new and interesting to happen to your new friends who lived one hundred years ago 1917 is the highest peak of Russian culture and civil society. It is the best and the most tragic moment of Russian history.''
Pushkin House Co-Chair Craig Kennedy says: “The consequences of 1917 still shape our world today, no more so than in Russia. And yet public awareness of what happened and why it matters has been fading, notably among younger Russians. Enter the Project1917 team. They have fashioned a creative, ground-breaking approach to history that both enlightens and delights and can help rekindle our interest the meaning of this fateful year. We are excited at Pushkin House to help make this important initiative more accessible to a broader audience.”