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Balabanoff, Angelica.



Balabanoff, Angelica. Tears. New York: E. Laub, 1943.
8vo.; red velour covered boards, stamped in gilt; red, white and black dust-jacket, lightly frayed.
First edition of Balabanoff's second book, preceded by her memoir; a review copy, so stamped on front dust-jacket panel and on the front endpaper. A presentation copy, with a lengthy inscription, in Russian, from Balabanoff, dated 1943, the year of publication. Angelica Balabanoff was a controversial figure, even within the volatile world of 20th-century international leftist politics. A Jew, she was born in Chernigov in the Russian Ukraine in 1877. Raised in a prosperous family, Balabanoff was well-educated and set her sights on becoming a writer. During her college studies she was exposed to European socialism, of which she became a fierce advocate. In Italy she joined the Socialist Party and became a member of its central committee; and for many years preceding World War I she was an advocate of Benito Mussolini, whom she later would denounce.
Balabanoff returned to Russia after the revolution of 1917 and joined the Communist Party, in which her oratorical gifts and knowledge of foreign languages secured her a prominent position. When the Communist International was organized in 1919 she became its first secretary; though she soon broke ranks with that organization due, in part, to her disagreement with its policy in regard to the Italian Socialists. When Emma Goldman traveled to Russia in 1919 she was appalled by the Bolshevik's treatment of Balabanoff and other renegade leaders; the conditions under which she found Balabanoff and others lead Goldman to protest directly to Lenin and would eventually lead to Goldman's denunciation of the harsh realities of Bolshevism.
According to Goldman's biographer Candace Falk:
[in 1919] Emma began to see that some of the leaders of the anarchist movement who had played such a crucial role in the victory of the Russian Revolution were now being discriminated against, assigned poor housing, given short rations, sent to work in remote, cold regions of the country, and even imprisoned. In particular, the sorry treatment of Angelica Balabanoff, the compassionate theorist of the revolution, convinced Emma that she needed to go directly to Lenin to challenge him with this information of which she hoped he was unaware... (Love, Anarchy and Emma Goldman, by Candace Falk, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984, pp. 301-2)
Balabanoff left Russia in 1922. Two years later, when she was permanently expelled from the Russian Communist Party, she moved to Paris, where she lived and worked as a Socialist activist until 1936, at which point she emigrated to New York City. In 1938 Balabanoff's first book, her memoir, My Life as a Rebel, was published. It was followed by this scarce collection of revolutionary poems in five languages-English, French, German, Italian and Russian. The book serves as a defense of Balabanoff's early forays into Socialisms-turned-wrong and as an attack on totalitarianism in its many forms. Two of the more notable poems are entitled "Solidarity," and "To the Victims of Fascism," in which Balabanoff mourns the martyrs who died in the name of international freedom.

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