Sergei M. Eisenstein : notes for a general history of cinema
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In 1997, on the eve of Eisenstein’s centenary, Aleksandr Troshin, Nina Dymshits, and I were selecting materials for the anniversary issue of the journal Kinovedcheskie zapiski. 1 Among the many still unpublished texts by Eisenstein we found drafts dating from 1947 to early 1948, which were connected to the plan of activities for the newly established Cinema Section of the Institute of Art History of the USSR Academy of Sciences. It would not be fair to say that we hadn’t known about the existence of these notes before. The first time they caught the eyes of Leonid Kozlov and I was at the very end of the 1950s or at the beginning of the 1960s, when most of the archive was at Pera Atasheva’s house on Gogolevskii Boulevard. We were working on the six-volume edition of Eisenstein’s selected works at the time.2 Pera Atasheva headed the process of looking through and selecting for typing those unpublished texts, which had a chance to pass through the scrutiny of the publisher’s editorial board. Scattered pages with lists of names and dates, somehow connected to the history of cinema, were perceived as a not very significant part of Eisenstein’s manuscripts, especially compared to his yet unpublished treatises. Besides, the deciphering of this hurried, almost “automatic” writing in a mix of four languages (Russian, English, German, French) presented a serious textological task. So the pages were put away, along with a multitude of other drafts, waiting for better times. The situation almost repeated three decades later. Even the double volume 36/ 37 of Kinovedcheskie zapiski, dedicated to Eisenstein’s centenary,3 could not accommodate all archival materials. Among the manuscripts waiting for publication remained his topical journalistic articles and critical prognoses; his interviews abroad with self-commentary to films, projects, and ideas still hadn’t been translated into Russian; chapters of theoretical works that had been cut by censors or editors were still “shelved”; letters, so important for Eisenstein’s biography and for understanding of his personality, were begging to be printed.
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