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A People Passing Rude

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Anthony Cross

19. ‘Unity in difference’: The Representation of Life in the Soviet Union through Isotype

Emma Minns

Texte intégral

  • 1 John Macmurray, ‘Preface’, in Maurice Lovell, Landsmen and Seafarers (London, 1945), p. 5. Macmurr (...)
  • 2 Two Commonwealths (London, 1945) was written by the historian Christopher Hill (1912-2003) under t (...)
  • 3 For a discussion of Anglo-Soviet relations in this period see Claire Knight contribution in this v (...)
  • 4 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, How do you do, Tovarish?, p. 5.

1Between 1945 and 1947 a series comprising three slim volumes, The Soviets and Ourselves, was published with the aim ‘to promote understanding and prevent misunderstanding […] to understand is to recognize unity in difference’.1 The first book, Landsmen and Seafarers, aimed to present the diverse climate, geography and natural resources of the Soviet Union and compare them to those of the British Commonwealth; the second, Two Commonwealths, discussed the political evolution of the USSR and the function of contemporary institutions; the final volume, How do you do, Tovarish? claimed to provide an accurate impression of the everyday life of ordinary Soviet men and women.2 The series was by no means unique in presenting the Soviet Union in a favourable light to a British audience; after the USSR joined the allied forces in the Second World War numerous pamphlets appeared designed to foster pro-Russian feeling in Britain.3 However after victory in 1945, Anglo-Soviet relations became strained, and the creators of the series felt an even greater need to overcome the ‘fear, suspicion, and distrust’ that ‘have darkened the atmosphere’.4 The Soviets and Ourselves (hereafter referred to as The Soviets) is a fascinating British representation of the Soviet Union, due in part to a number of the personalities involved in its creation: Peter Smollett, John Macmurray, Christopher Hill, and Otto Neurath. This chapter focuses on the role played by Neurath in the evolution of the series and the contribution made by his picture language ‘Isotype’ to the visual element of the books.

  • 5 There have been numerous studies of Neurath’s life and the different areas of his work, particular (...)
  • 6 The term Isotype was first used in 1935 and was inspired by C.K. Ogden’s term BASIC (British Ameri (...)
  • 7 Otto Neurath, ‘Pictorial statistics—An International Problem’, Listener, 27 September 1933, p. 471

2Otto Neurath (1882-1945) was a polymath whose occupations and interests included philosophy, political economy, sociology, education, and visual communication.5 His time as Director of the Gesellschaftsund Wirtschaftsmuseum in Vienna (1925-34) gave him the opportunity to develop an innovative visual method that could present complex statistical data in ways that would engage the man in the street. Neurath and his team of designers and technicians produced charts on subjects such as housing, employment, health and education in order to inform the Viennese public about improvements and changes in their standard of living, as well as the economic situation overseas. The charts used a system of pictorial statistics devised by Neurath that was known as the ‘Vienna Method’ and from which evolved Isotype (International System Of TYpographic Picture Education).6 The Vienna Method, and later Isotype, used a ‘dictionary’ of pictograms to construct charts that transformed technical information and statistical data into a visual form that could be understood by as wide an audience as possible. Neurath’s ambition was for these symbols to create an international picture language. Writing in the Listener in 1933, he stated: ‘Here is a new method capable not only of conveying social and other information to the masses, but also of serving as a new means of cultural interaction as a whole. The pictures used are composed of symbols intelligible in all countries alike’.7 Neurath was given an unprecedented opportunity to test the intelligibility of the Vienna Method when he was invited to help establish an institute for pictorial statistics in Moscow in 1931. Indeed, The Soviets was not the first time Isotype had been used to present data on aspects of the Soviet Union to an English-speaking audience.

  • 8 For an excellent introduction to Neurath, Izostat and the 1931-4 period, see Vladimir Krichevskii, (...)

3The All-Union Institute of Pictorial Statistics of Soviet Construction and Economy (Vsesoiuznyi institut izobrazitel’noi statistiki sovetskogo stroitel’stva i khoziaistva) or, as it was more commonly known, the Izostat Institute, or simply Izostat, existed for almost a decade; although, Neurath and his team only worked there until 1934, employed to train Russian Izostat staff in the conventions and application of the Vienna Method.8 Throughout the 1931-4 period Izostat produced a wide variety of materials including charts, books, window displays, and even exhibitions for Soviet holidays and celebrations. The majority of these were concerned with displaying the claimed achievements of the First Five-Year Plan (1928-32) and predicting the successful fulfilment of the Second Five-Year Plan (1933-7).

  • 9 The Struggle for Five Years in Four (Moscow, 1932); The Second Five-Year Plan in Construction (Mos (...)
  • 10 ‘Otto Neurath visits Russia’, Survey Graphic, XXI (1932), pp. 538-9.
  • 11 U.S.S.R: The Strength of Our Ally (London, 1941).

4Although the charts were designed with a Russian audience in mind, some publications were also produced in English language editions. The extent to which titles such as The Struggle for Five Years in Four and The Second Five-Year Plan in Construction9 were of interest to readers in Britain (outside members of the Communist Party or Trade Union officials) is questionable, and it is difficult to ascertain the print run of these volumes and their availability overseas. However, Neurath’s time in Moscow and the development of Soviet pictorial statistics did not go completely unnoticed outside of Russia: the American journal Survey Graphic featured a number of Izostat charts that had first appeared in the newspaper Izvestiia.10 The work of Izostat also influenced an early manifestation of British war-time support for the Soviet Union—U.S.S.R: The Strength of Our Ally.11 This booklet credited the Izostat Institute as one of its sources and like The Soviets featured a combination of both pictorial statistics and official photographs. A number of the pictograms in U.S.S.R seem to have been inspired by those featured in Izostat publications, but this work does not use Neurath’s Isotype, and the construction of many of the charts is not in harmony with Isotype principles.

Fig. 19.1 ‘Coal output in the USSR’, The Struggle for Five Years in Four (Moscow, 1932). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.

  • 12 Lissitzkii first met Neurath and encountered the Vienna Method at the 1928 ‘Pressa’ exhibition in (...)
  • 13 Ivan Sautin and Ivan Ivanitskii (eds.), USSR: An Album Illustrating the State Organization and Nat (...)
  • 14 Letter from Neurath to Smollett, 19 January 1944 (Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, Univers (...)
  • 15 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, How do you do, Tovarish?, p. 6.
  • 16 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, Landsmen and Seafarers, p. 6.
  • 17 ‘A Russian Family at Table’, How do you do, Tovarish?, p. 22.
  • 18 G.M. Sverdlov, Legal Rights of the Soviet Family (London, 1945), p. 14.

5The most notable English-language Izostat publication is an album produced for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the design of which was overseen by the artist Lazar (El) Lissitskii (1890-1941).12 USSR: An Album Illustrating the State Organization and National Economy of the USSR13 could be seen as something of a precedent to The Soviets in its use of visual material; it intersperses Izostat charts with photographs of notable persons and events and woodcuts that present socialist realist scenes of Soviet life. Although USSR is never mentioned in any correspondence between Neurath and Peter Smollett, it is likely that as Director of the Russian Division of the Ministry of Information, Smollett would have, at the least, been aware of the work. Smollett had intended for woodcuts to appear in The Soviets, alongside photographs and Isotype charts, an idea Neurath rejected: ‘I think the PHOTOGRAPH-ISOTYPE-TEXT combination has a great importance […] I think in a “factual” argument, one should perhaps compare photograph with photograph or intentionally made simplified drawings with drawings’ and Smollett conceded to Neurath’s wish.14 The use of only photographs and Isotype charts brings an air of authority and gravitas to the books, and gives the impression that these are objective works concerned with facts, rather than anecdotes or points of view. In each volume the series editor, Macmurray, emphasised to readers the importance of the photographs and the Isotype charts and was at pains to stress that ‘they have been chosen and compiled with the intention, not so much to illustrate the text, as to supplement it’.15 The photographs ‘are studies in contrast and comparison, to be thought over as well as looked at’.16 Many were supplied by the Society for Cultural Relations with the U.S.S.R, and certain photographs may seem familiar as they appeared in a number British publications from this time. For example, in How do you do, Tovarish? the Koshelev family is shown sitting down to dinner and according to the caption, ‘they like a well-filled dish’—a wish that it is hard to believe was fulfilled in post-war Russia.17 However this image of domestic harmony also made an appearance in 1945, in the Legal Rights of the Soviet Family, in which the meal is presented to readers as breakfast.18

Fig. 19.2 ‘Isotype Vocabulary’, Landsmen and Seafarers (London, 1945). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.

  • 19 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, Landsmen and Seafarers, p. 6.

6The Isotype charts, perhaps seen by some readers for the first time, required more explanation: ‘They supplement the letterpress by saying through the eye something that cannot be expressed, or something that cannot be so well expressed in words. Each diagram has one important point to make, which should be obvious at first glance; but the reader who will make the slight effort to learn the simple language of the visual symbolism which they use will find that they repay careful and repeated scrutiny’.19 In Landsmen and Seafarers readers were first provided with an ‘Isotype vocabulary’ page of pictograms before they were presented with the charts.

7One important aspect of Isotype pictograms is their neutrality; no national characteristics or stereotypes are ascribed to them. Their aim is the representation of their subject in a manner that attempts to combine accuracy with minimalism, such as the modifications made to the soldier symbol in the ‘Isotype vocabulary’, which reflect changes in military uniform over the course of time.

  • 20 Letter from Neurath to Smollett, 6 November 1943 (IC 1/6).
  • 21 Ibid.
  • 22 In International Picture Language (London, 1936), p. 50, Otto Neurath wrote: ‘If colours have to b (...)
  • 23 ‘Large-town Development in Britain, Large-town Development in Russia’, chart 5, How do you do, Tov (...)

8The use of colour in the Isotype charts should also be noted. When a chart compares Britain and Russia, Britain is differentiated by red and Russia by green, the traditional colour coding used on maps since the 19th century to represent the British and Russian Empires respectively. Neurath was against using red for Russia and the Soviet Union as ‘red for tsarist Russia looks very strange’.20 It seems he would have liked to have used new colours to represent the two nations so ‘we may use RED for wars, revolution, killing people, etc’.21 Izostat charts had always used red to highlight Soviet achievement (in contrast to symbols showing pre-revolutionary data which were coloured in dark or dull shades). According to Isotype conventions, red was often used to signify industrialisation, urbanisation and other aspects of society and economy associated with modernisation and development.22 In The Soviets this colour association is also followed in some charts, not just for Russia but for Britain as well. Therefore in the chart ‘Large-town Development in Britain and Russia’, the pictogram for both British and Russian inhabitants of towns is coloured red. In the chart ‘Urbanization of Great Britain’ the pictogram for urban dwellers is red, whereas the one representing the rural populace is green.23

Fig. 19.3 ‘Large Town Development in Britain, Large Town Development in Russia’, How do you do, Tovarish? (London, 1947). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.

  • 24 Adprint was a leading British producer of illustrated educational books. It was founded by Wolfgan (...)
  • 25 See Maria Gough, ‘Back in the USSR: John Heartfield, Gustav Klucis, and the Medium of Soviet Propa (...)
  • 26 ‘Alex Kroll: Magazine Art Director and Publisher’ (Obituary), The Times, 27 June 2008, http://sear (...)

9As regards the overall design of the books, the producers of the series, Adprint, were in the process of organising a similar series—’America and Britain’—when The Soviets was devised.24 The layout, design, typeface, use of photographs and charts is exactly the same in both, and all 6 books feature a distinctive cover-design which places the Isotype pictograms for Britain, the USA or USSR over photographic images. The Soviets covers are somewhat striking. Landsmen and Seafarers is reminiscent of USSR in Construction, and was in fact the work of the innovative photomontage artist John Heartfield (1891-1968), who had spent time in Moscow and had worked for the journal.25 The cover of Two Commonwealths appears to be the work of another distinguished designer, Alex Kroll (1916-2008), a Russian émigré who was at this time also Art director of Vogue magazine and who was instrumental in presenting Lee Miller’s war-time photography to a British audience.26

Personalities

  • 27 Letter from Foges to Neurath, 26 July 1943 (IC 1/31). There is a considerable amount of correspond (...)
  • 28 Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of its Operations from Lenin to Gorb (...)
  • 29 H.P. Smolka, Forty Thousand against the Arctic (London, 1937).
  • 30 Andrew and Gordievsky, KGB, p. 268.
  • 31 See the Guardian Review, 21 June 2003.
  • 32 Orwell quoted by Timothy Garton Ash, ‘Orwell’s List’, New York Review of Books (25 September 2003) (...)

10The first reference to The Soviets series in the correspondence of Neurath appears in late July 1943. A letter from Wolfang Foges, Managing Director of Adprint, mentions that a ‘Mr Smollett […] would like to go to Oxford to discuss with you the Russian series’.27 This would be the first of a number of meetings Neurath would have with Peter Smollett, head of the Russian Division of the Ministry of Information and an individual who in more recent years has been exposed as an associate of Kim Philby and an agent for the NKVD.28 Smollett, like Neurath, was an Austrian émigré to Britain (his original name was Hans Peter Smolka). He arrived in Britain in the early 1930s, and forged a career as a journalist and writer specialising in Soviet topics, publishing in 1937 a book on the Soviet Arctic.29 By the late summer of 1941 he was in a position of some influence, directing the activities of the Russian Division and according to one source: ‘The Soviet propaganda effort organised by Smollett under the guise of ‘stealing the thunder of the radical left’ was on a prodigious scale’.30 As well as Smollett’s central role in the organisation and development of the series, the involvement of John Macmurray and Christopher Hill is also intriguing. Both Smollett and Macmurray were included by George Orwell in his famous ‘list’31 of ‘crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way’ and the author made particular mention of Smollett: ‘gives strong impression of being some kind of Russian agent. Very slimy person’.32

  • 33 The historian Anthony Glees made this claim after interviewing Hill and studying Foreign Office fi (...)
  • 34 ‘Home Life in Soviet Russia’, Times Literary Supplement, 17 May 1947 (IC 8.2/12).
  • 35 Letter from Smollett to Neurath, 20 October 1943 (IC 1/6).

11Christopher Hill, who became a member of the Communist Party in the 1930s, has also been accused of acting during his war-time service as some kind of Soviet agent.33 This claim has caused controversy, but nevertheless it is clear from correspondence in the Isotype Collection that Smollett and Hill were in regular contact concerning The Soviets, and Hill’s text was noted by the Times Literary Supplement for its ‘less than impartial treatment’ of Soviet political institutions.34 Neurath’s contribution to the series and his relationship with Smollett, Macmurray and Hill, raises the question of his own political allegiance and sympathies. In Vienna, Neurath’s loyalty had always been to the Social Democrats, not the Communists, and his time in Moscow did nothing to alter his opinions. Moreover, Neurath, in his search for accurate information and data to transform into Isotype charts was constantly questioning sources and their reliability, and his charts did not always present the Soviet Union in the way Macmurray and Smollett wished they would. Yet the latter did do their most to make Neurath feel a valued part of the creative and editorial team: ‘All concerned feel very strongly that the Isotype Institute should fulfil the function of co-author and not of illustrator […] we suggest that you let us have counter suggestions if you feel that such are likely to improve the quality of the production’.35

The evolution of the series

  • 36 There is one undated note from the Soviet Relations Division, Ministry of Information, to Neurath (...)
  • 37 The Isotype Collection holds a number of Isotype Institute notebooks with references to relevant b (...)
  • 38 Letter from Macmurray to Neurath, 18 April 1944 (IC 1/10). Macmurray also recruited other academic (...)
  • 39 Wright Miller, How the Russians Live (London, 1943) (IC 10/3 MILL).
  • 40 Andrew Rothstein, Workers in the Soviet Union (London, 1942) (IC 10/3 ROT). Happiness was a great (...)

12After the series team had agreed on a topic for a chart, which in itself could be a lengthy process, Neurath and his Institute staff then required information to transform into Isotype. One might presume that in relation to the Soviet Union this would come directly from Smollett at the Ministry of Information, but the Isotype archive only holds one example of this taking place.36 Instead, it seems that Neurath and his team gathered the material from a variety of sources; much was acquired from books available in Oxford and London libraries and from recently published pamphlets on life in the Soviet Union.37 Some material was provided by Macmurray and the authors; Neurath was regularly seeking confirmation on figures and data from them, which they sometimes found exasperating: ‘Major Hill was of the opinion that what he has already sent you through me was all that you required […] He finds it almost impossible to answer most of your questions without the charts in front of him’.38 In his scrutiny of contemporary publications from sources such as Soviet News, the Russia­To-Day Society and the Foreign Languages Publishing House, Neurath did not passively digest information. On the reverse of a Fabian Society leaflet, How the Russians Live, for example he has scribbled ‘cosmic biliousness’, though whether this is directed at the leaflet in particular, or the Fabian Society in general, is impossible to say.39 Neurath annotated texts with vigour; some pages are full of his characteristic thickly pencilled underlining and exclamation marks. The marginalia in Neurath’s copy of Workers in the Soviet Union by Andrew Rothstein, shows Neurath found much to take issue with. To the claim that ‘scores of thousands of old-age pensioners are in paid employment’ because they can receive both their pension and wages, Neurath counters ‘because pensions are low’. On the final page, which praises the Soviet trade unions for their self-critical spirit and concern for socialist production, Neurath simply asks ‘what about happiness?’40 Thus, if Smollett thought he had found someone who would promote the Soviet regime without question, he was mistaken.

Fig. 19.4 ‘Climate: Rain and Temperature’, Landsmen and Seafarers (London, 1945). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.

13Work on Landsmen and Seafarers seems to have progressed well and without much debate, perhaps because the subject matter of the Isotype charts was less controversial: climate, travelling distances, population, historical alliances and conflicts.

  • 41 Lovell, Landsmen and Seafarers, p. 16.
  • 42 Paul Robert Magosci, History of Ukraine (Toronto, 1996), p. 644.

14This book, more than the others, also stresses comparison between the various peoples and republics of the Soviet Union with British Dominions, rather than just Great Britain—one page contrasts the wheat fields of Ukraine with a sheep ranch in Australia. But even here there are statements that surprise, for example the description of Ukraine as ‘Russia’s own surplus-producing area’,41 when the destruction by both Nazi and Red Army forces meant that in 1945 Ukraine’s agricultural production was forty percent of its 1940 figure.42

Fig. 19.5 ‘What a Briton Can Own, What a Russian Can Own’, How do you do, Tovarish? (London, 1947). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.

  • 43 Otto Neurath, ‘Isotype Russian Britain Series’, III, November 1944 (IC 1/32).

15Two Commonwealths and How do you do, Tovarish? caused more consternation for all involved. Although Neurath died in December 1945, he had already suggested comparisons between the lives of ordinary Britons and Russians that might be shown through Isotype. Sometimes Neurath’s schemes are not entirely clear in his letters: ‘It should be nice, if we could tell something about TEA in the Soviet Union, that they are drinking MORE CUPS OF TEA, but less real TEA than in the UK’. 43 However, most of the ideas he initially put forward were not realised in the final book, and the Isotype charts compare marriage and divorce, births and deaths, incomes and ownership, rather than leisure pursuits, theatre trips and tea drinking.

  • 44 Letter from Neurath to Foges, 27 November 1944 (IC 1/32). After Neurath’s death his wife Marie, wh (...)

16One reason might be Neurath’s untimely demise, the other simply lack of data concerning these everyday and seemingly trivial topics. At one stage Neurath complained to Foges at Adprint, ‘we must have more genuine Russian material before we can go on’.44

  • 45 Letter from Smollett to Neurath, 22 December 1943 (IC 1/6).
  • 46 Hill, Two Commonwealths, p. 34.
  • 47 Ibid, pp. 13-4.
  • 48 Ibid, p. 22.
  • 49 Letter from Macmurray to Neurath, 12 December 1944 (IC 1/10).

17Neurath also presented Smollett and Macmurray with an array of topics for Two Commonwealths—’you said you would suggest a complete scheme of charts for that book’, Smollett reminds him at one stage.45 However this book was the most difficult for Neurath, with its determination to present the Soviet Union as a democracy. The book tries to cover the following areas: constitutional structure, soviets, freedom, party systems, bureaucracy, collective farms, trade unions, planning, achievements and tendencies. Hill glosses over Stalin’s purges and the show trials of the 1930s in a couple of sentences, and assures the reader that ‘Stalin declared in 1939 that mass purges would not be needed in the future’.46 On another page he seems to imply that Stalin had in the past been shocked by ‘the heartless attitude of his fellows’ and that the Russians needed him to ‘press home the point that ‘it is time to realize that of all the valuable capital the world possesses the most valuable and most decisive is people’.47 Even the single party system seems to be recommended to the reader. Comparing the Supreme Soviet to the British House of Commons, Hill remarks: ‘there is always in fact general agreement on fundamentals of policy, and consequently no desire to score debating points’.48 The Isotype Collection contains many letters in which Neurath and Macmurray debate how democracy and freedom should be defined in reference to the Soviet Union; what Macmurray and Hill seem to have wanted was an Isotype chart that ‘should not accept the British democratic tradition as standard. The chart must redefine democracy in a way that will include the Russian conception of it as well as the British. […] I think we should drop the idea of exhibiting the consequences of democracy and concentrate on the essential—the different approaches to democracy in Britain and Russia and the contrast between sudden and gradual achievement’.49 In the final version of Two Commonwealths no chart did appear that encapsulated this, no agreement could be reached between Neurath and Macmurray; an inevitability perhaps, given a statement made by Neurath, in his own unique manner, at the most heated point in their exchange of views:

  • 50 Letter from Neurath to Macmurray, 21 October 1944 (IC 1/10).

It is one of the qualities of Isotype to give the reader an opportunity to make his conclusions himself, but not to present it full as an egg. Therefore we try to go back to the elements, which seem sufficiently accepted. Therefore we avoid, as you may see in all our charts, any GENERAL TERMS such as ‘political’ and ‘economic’. Of course, you may use them in the book— or your collaborator—ad libitum, but not WITHIN the chart. Therefore we should present the single items, you may call together political and economic.50

Responses to the series

  • 51 ‘The Russians at Home’, Daily Worker (24 April 1947) (IC 8.2/12).
  • 52 Isaiah Berlin, ‘How do you do, Tovarish?’ Listener, XXXVIII (1947), http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/li (...)
  • 53 Letter from Neurath to Macmurray, 5 August 1944 (IC 1/10).
  • 54 Fredrich Mullally, ‘Landsmen and Seafarers’, Tribune (6 April 1945), p. 14 (IC 8.2/12).
  • 55 John Lawrence, ‘Russian Lives’, New Statesman (10 May 1947) (IC 8.2/12).
  • 56 ‘Home Life in Soviet Russia’, Times Literary Supplement, 17 May 1947 (IC 8.2/12).
  • 57 Isaiah Berlin, ‘How do you do, Tovarish?’

18Of the three books, How do you do, Tovarish? received the most attention in the press. This was undoubtedly due to its focus on the lives of ordinary Soviet men and women, which from a newspaper’s point of view would be of more interest to ordinary British men and women than Gosplan or pig-iron production. The reviews varied in their responses; the Daily Worker, unsurprisingly, declared that the book’s author, the journalist Ralph Parker, gives a picture ‘of a healthy and virile society of men and women who realise that a full and satisfying personal life depends on a full and satisfying communal life’.51 Many reviews, though, were critical of what the book, and the preceding two, ignore or gloss over. Writing in the Listener, Isaiah Berlin conceded that Parker has ‘a natural affinity with the Russian character’ but felt ‘it is not impartial and not convincing’.52 This view was shared to a lesser degree by the New Statesman, The Sunday Times and the TLS. But what of the Isotype charts? Were they affected by criticisms of the text, or did they manage, as Neurath had hoped, to ‘form a whole, which appears as an ADDITION to the text’?53 Although the Tribune declared the charts ‘near to excellence’,54 the New Statesman judged that ‘not all of them are easy to understand’55 and the TLS found them ‘exasperatingly pointless’.56 Although Neurath had hoped that the combination of ‘PHOTOGRAPH-ISOTYPE-TEXT’ would prove central to the success of The Soviets, one might argue that the books always struggled, as Neurath himself had struggled with his collaborators, to fully reconcile the objective presentation of information through Isotype with texts that frequently portrayed life in Soviet Union ‘with the shadows magically lifted’.57

Notes

1 John Macmurray, ‘Preface’, in Maurice Lovell, Landsmen and Seafarers (London, 1945), p. 5. Macmurray (1891-1976) was Grote Professor of Mind and Logic at University College London and then Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh during the preparation and publication of The Soviets series. He was also the author of The Philosophy of Communism (London, 1933). The title Landsmen and Seafarers derives from a speech made by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, 8 September 1942, in which he said: ‘It is difficult to make the Russians comprehend all the problems of the sea and of the ocean. We are sea animals […]. The Russians are land animals.’

2 Two Commonwealths (London, 1945) was written by the historian Christopher Hill (1912-2003) under the pseudonym K.E. Holme. During the Second World War, Hill was a major in the Intelligence Corps, seconded to the Russian desk of the Foreign Office. R.C.S. Trahair, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies and Secret Operations (Westport, 2004), pp. 116-8. Ralph Parker, a journalist and translator based in Moscow, authored the final volume How do you do, Tovarish? (London, 1947). This should have been published earlier than 1947, but Otto Neurath’s unexpected death in December 1945 contributed to its delay.

3 For a discussion of Anglo-Soviet relations in this period see Claire Knight contribution in this volume.

4 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, How do you do, Tovarish?, p. 5.

5 There have been numerous studies of Neurath’s life and the different areas of his work, particularly his membership of the ‘Vienna Circle’. For an overview see Elisabeth M. Nemeth and Fredrich Stadler (eds.), Encyclopedia and Utopia: the Life and Work of Otto Neurath, 1882-1945 (Dordrecht/Boston, 1996). On Neurath and Isotype see Graphic Communication through ISO TYPE (Reading, 1975); Marie Neurath and Robin Kinross, The Transformer: Principles of Making Isotype Charts (London, 2009); Christopher Burke, ‘Isotype: Representing Social Facts Pictorially’, Information Design Journal, XVII (2009), pp. 211-23. See also Neurath’s autobiography: Otto Neurath, From Hieroglyphics to Isotype: A Visual Autobiography, Matthew Eve and Christopher Burke (eds.) (London, 2010).

6 The term Isotype was first used in 1935 and was inspired by C.K. Ogden’s term BASIC (British American Scientific International Commercial) English. The change in name was also due to the fact that Neurath and members of his Museum staff had to flee Vienna in 1934 and re-establish themselves firstly in The Hague, and then finally in Oxford, where Neurath established the Isotype Institute in 1942. The term ‘Vienna Method’ no longer seemed appropriate. See Neurath & Kinross, The Transformer, pp. 46-7.

7 Otto Neurath, ‘Pictorial statistics—An International Problem’, Listener, 27 September 1933, p. 471.

8 For an excellent introduction to Neurath, Izostat and the 1931-4 period, see Vladimir Krichevskii,’Izostatistika i “Izostat” / Pictorial Statistics and “Izostat”’, Proekt Rossiia / Project Russia, I (1995), pp. 63-7.

9 The Struggle for Five Years in Four (Moscow, 1932); The Second Five-Year Plan in Construction (Moscow, 1934).

10 ‘Otto Neurath visits Russia’, Survey Graphic, XXI (1932), pp. 538-9.

11 U.S.S.R: The Strength of Our Ally (London, 1941).

12 Lissitzkii first met Neurath and encountered the Vienna Method at the 1928 ‘Pressa’ exhibition in Cologne. The artist took a great interest in the work of Izostat and was in close contact with Neurath during his time in Moscow. See Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, El Lissitzky: Life, Letters, Texts (London, 1980), p. 86.

13 Ivan Sautin and Ivan Ivanitskii (eds.), USSR: An Album Illustrating the State Organization and National Economy of the USSR (Moscow, 1939).

14 Letter from Neurath to Smollett, 19 January 1944 (Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading, hereafter IC, 1/11). Smollett replied ‘Having had time to reflect, I think you are right […] with regard to the incompatibility of charts, photographs and woodcuts. We shall try as much as possible to conform to your wise recommendations’ (Smollett to Neurath, 25 January 1944 (IC 1/11)).

15 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, How do you do, Tovarish?, p. 6.

16 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, Landsmen and Seafarers, p. 6.

17 ‘A Russian Family at Table’, How do you do, Tovarish?, p. 22.

18 G.M. Sverdlov, Legal Rights of the Soviet Family (London, 1945), p. 14.

19 Macmurray, ‘Preface’, Landsmen and Seafarers, p. 6.

20 Letter from Neurath to Smollett, 6 November 1943 (IC 1/6).

21 Ibid.

22 In International Picture Language (London, 1936), p. 50, Otto Neurath wrote: ‘If colours have to be given to the three stages of development of society—[…] Red is industry, machine, metal, warm, present, higher stage of development, worker’.

23 ‘Large-town Development in Britain, Large-town Development in Russia’, chart 5, How do you do, Tovarish?; ‘Urbanization of Great Britain’, chart 7, Two Commonwealths.

24 Adprint was a leading British producer of illustrated educational books. It was founded by Wolfgang Foges in 1937, later joined by Walter Neurath who went on to establish Thames & Hudson. See David Lambert, ‘Wolfgang Foges and the New Illustrated Book in Britain: Adprint, Rathbone Books, and Aldus Books’, Typography papers, VIII (2009), pp. 113-28. The series ‘America and Britain’ was edited by P. Sargent Florence: Lella Secor Florence, Only an Ocean Between (London, 1944); K.B. Smellie, Our Two Democracies at Work (London, 1944); Lella Secor Florence, Our Private Lives (London, 1944).

25 See Maria Gough, ‘Back in the USSR: John Heartfield, Gustav Klucis, and the Medium of Soviet Propaganda’, New German Critique, XXXVI (2009), pp. 133-8.

26 ‘Alex Kroll: Magazine Art Director and Publisher’ (Obituary), The Times, 27 June 2008, http://search.proquest.com/docview/319895858?accountid=13460 [accessed 5.9.2012].

27 Letter from Foges to Neurath, 26 July 1943 (IC 1/31). There is a considerable amount of correspondence related to The Soviets in the Isotype Collection. However there are no official minutes or notes of the meetings that took place between Neurath, Smollett, Macmurray and the authors.

28 Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of its Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev (London, 1990), pp. 265-9. Another article on Smollett focuses on his relationship with Graham Greene, and credits Smollett for providing Greene with tales of life in post-war Vienna that were featured in the screenplay of The Third Man. ‘The Vienna Project’, Sight and Sound (July 1999), pp. 16-9, http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.882004&res_dat=xri:fiaf&rft_dat=xri:fiaf:article:004/0222911 [accessed 5.9.2012].

29 H.P. Smolka, Forty Thousand against the Arctic (London, 1937).

30 Andrew and Gordievsky, KGB, p. 268.

31 See the Guardian Review, 21 June 2003.

32 Orwell quoted by Timothy Garton Ash, ‘Orwell’s List’, New York Review of Books (25 September 2003), http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2003/sep/25/orwells-list/?page=2 [accessed 28.7.2011]. Garton Ash also discusses Smollett’s role as a Soviet agent and his advice to the publisher Jonathan Cape to reject Orwell’s Animal Farm.

33 The historian Anthony Glees made this claim after interviewing Hill and studying Foreign Office files. See ‘Outcry as Historian Labeled a Soviet Spy’, Guardian, 6 March 2003, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/mar/06/books.politics [accessed 28.7.2011]. See also Trahair, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, pp. 116-8 for an overview of Hill’s political beliefs in relation to his war-time activities.

34 ‘Home Life in Soviet Russia’, Times Literary Supplement, 17 May 1947 (IC 8.2/12).

35 Letter from Smollett to Neurath, 20 October 1943 (IC 1/6).

36 There is one undated note from the Soviet Relations Division, Ministry of Information, to Neurath which makes reference to sending a statistical abstract to him on the request of Smollett. However, the abstract is no longer attached, as the note states ‘could you let us have it back […] as it is our file copy and often used for reference’ (Letter from A.B. Elkin to Neurath, n.d. (IC 1/40)). However, Smollett did send Neurath information privately, for example, a copy of his book on the Soviet Arctic.

37 The Isotype Collection holds a number of Isotype Institute notebooks with references to relevant books held in the Bodleian, British Museum, Royal Statistical Library, as well as various public libraries.

38 Letter from Macmurray to Neurath, 18 April 1944 (IC 1/10). Macmurray also recruited other academics to advise Neurath: ‘I saw B.H. Sumner, who said he would be glad to help in any way he could’ (Letter from Macmurray to Neurath, 22 May 1944) (IC 1/10).

39 Wright Miller, How the Russians Live (London, 1943) (IC 10/3 MILL).

40 Andrew Rothstein, Workers in the Soviet Union (London, 1942) (IC 10/3 ROT). Happiness was a great concern of Neurath’s, a newspaper feature on him ran the heading ‘Man with a Load of Happiness’, News Chronicle (4 December 1945), p. 2.

41 Lovell, Landsmen and Seafarers, p. 16.

42 Paul Robert Magosci, History of Ukraine (Toronto, 1996), p. 644.

43 Otto Neurath, ‘Isotype Russian Britain Series’, III, November 1944 (IC 1/32).

44 Letter from Neurath to Foges, 27 November 1944 (IC 1/32). After Neurath’s death his wife Marie, who had worked with Otto since the late 1920s and was the senior transformer at the Isotype Institute, took over all her husband’s responsibilities. There is some correspondence between Marie Neurath and Adprint concerning the third The Soviets book but none with Smollett or Macmurray.

45 Letter from Smollett to Neurath, 22 December 1943 (IC 1/6).

46 Hill, Two Commonwealths, p. 34.

47 Ibid, pp. 13-4.

48 Ibid, p. 22.

49 Letter from Macmurray to Neurath, 12 December 1944 (IC 1/10).

50 Letter from Neurath to Macmurray, 21 October 1944 (IC 1/10).

51 ‘The Russians at Home’, Daily Worker (24 April 1947) (IC 8.2/12).

52 Isaiah Berlin, ‘How do you do, Tovarish?’ Listener, XXXVIII (1947), http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk/lists/bibliography/index.html [accessed 5.10.2012].

53 Letter from Neurath to Macmurray, 5 August 1944 (IC 1/10).

54 Fredrich Mullally, ‘Landsmen and Seafarers’, Tribune (6 April 1945), p. 14 (IC 8.2/12).

55 John Lawrence, ‘Russian Lives’, New Statesman (10 May 1947) (IC 8.2/12).

56 ‘Home Life in Soviet Russia’, Times Literary Supplement, 17 May 1947 (IC 8.2/12).

57 Isaiah Berlin, ‘How do you do, Tovarish?’

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 19.1 ‘Coal output in the USSR’, The Struggle for Five Years in Four (Moscow, 1932). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1594/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 162k
Légende Fig. 19.2 ‘Isotype Vocabulary’, Landsmen and Seafarers (London, 1945). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1594/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 295k
Légende Fig. 19.3 ‘Large Town Development in Britain, Large Town Development in Russia’, How do you do, Tovarish? (London, 1947). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1594/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 135k
Légende Fig. 19.4 ‘Climate: Rain and Temperature’, Landsmen and Seafarers (London, 1945). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1594/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 200k
Légende Fig. 19.5 ‘What a Briton Can Own, What a Russian Can Own’, How do you do, Tovarish? (London, 1947). Otto & Marie Neurath Isotype Collection, University of Reading.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/1594/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 171k

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