By Nikolai Krementsov
This booklet examines a specific fascination with the dream of immortality and where of technology and fiction in its pursuit in Russia in the course of approximately a decade that the country’s political revolutions of 1917. It argues that modern clinical experiments geared toward the keep watch over over existence, demise, and illness encouraged many Russian writers to behavior their very own literary experiments with the information and strategies provided through experimental biology and drugs, which discovered expression in either popular-science writings and a brand new literary style, technology fiction. due to this excessive, if usually oblique, discussion among technology and fiction, esoteric, really good wisdom generated by means of experimental biology and drugs turned reworked into an influential cultural source. This booklet investigates the contexts and ideas of this alteration, a number of the teams of actors—scientists, their Bolshevik buyers, and their literary fans/critics—who participated in developing this source and formed its contents to their very own ends, and the relative roles of technological know-how and literature in pursuing the dream of immortality in Nineteen Twenties Russia. It demonstrates that this cultural source facilitated the institution of enormous really expert associations for biomedical examine, encouraged various technological know-how fiction tales, displaced spiritual ideals, and gave the centuries-old dream of immortality new varieties and new meanings in Bolshevik Russia.
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Additional resources for Revolutionary Experiments: The Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction
But, as Bulgakov put it in his novella, “everything in the world eventually comes to an end. 15 The new rulers paid a steep price for the victory: the economy was shattered and cities depopulated, factories stood still and fields empty, epidemics were rampant, and famine reigned supreme. Faced with severe economic crisis, in late 1921 the Bolsheviks abandoned War Communism and adopted NEP—a New Economic Policy, which proved highly successful in reviving the country’s economy, repopulating its cities, and restoring its agricultural production.
45 As Bulgakov vividly portrayed it in “The Dog’s Heart,” enterprising scientists cleverly exploited this “human” side of the Bolsheviks to satisfy their own material needs, advance research interests, or promote institutional agendas. Yet the immediate utility (either real or imaginary) of biomedical investigations was certainly not the only reason the Bolshevik government generously supported research in various branches of visionary biology. To a large extent the growing union between the newborn Soviet state and “visionary biologists” stemmed from a particular cultural atmosphere of ever-present death and high hopes for the future, which permeated the country.
Fascinated by the effects of the rays on “the egg’s deiteroplasm,” Persikov plans to expand his experiments to other egg-laying animals and uses his newly acquired access to state agencies to get the necessary equipment and materials from abroad. With the help of his assistant, he constructs three much larger incubators for his experiments with the red rays and orders eggs of various reptiles and birds from Germany and the United States. At this very moment, a “chicken plague” hits the Soviet republic, killing chickens all over the country with horrifying speed.
Revolutionary Experiments: The Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction by Nikolai Krementsov