Leon Trotsky



This book is not complete and there are two reasons for this. Above all things one must not look in it for a biography or character study of Lenin or a complete exposition of his views or methods of action. This work offers only some sketches, fragments, outlines for future work of others, possibly also for a book by the author of these lines. This “sketchy” method is in the meantime inevitable and necessary. Besides the popular biographies and general character studies, there is already need of a more detailed and careful work in order to keep in touch with the particular episodes, the particular features of Lenin’s life and personality as they occurred before our eyes. The most important part of this book consists of the author’s recollections of two periods between which lie fifteen years: the last half year of the old Iskra, and the decisive year in the middle of which the October Revolution occurred, that is, from about the middle of 1917 to the autumn of 1918.

But this book has not been finished for another, simpler reason: I hope that circumstances will permit me to do further work on it, to make improvements and corrections, to put it into more precise form, and complete it by new episodes and chapters. Illness and the consequent temporary withdrawal from active work gave me the opportunity to live over again in memory much that is told in this book. When I read the first fragments I unrolled the coil of memory further and recalled new episodes that are significant solely because they refer to Lenin’s life or are connected with him. But this method of work involves the disadvantage that the product of the work is never finished. For this reason then I decided to cut short the manuscript mechanically, at a definite moment. At the same time I reserve the privilege – as I have already said – of working further on this book. I need not say that I shall be most grateful to all concerned in the events and episodes of the time described if they will inform me of any corrections, or add any recollections.

On the other hand, it is not superfluous to say in advance that I have purposely omitted a number of circumstances that are still too closely bound up with the events of the day.

To the two main parts of the book that are in the form of memoirs I add those articles and speeches, or parts of speeches, in which I wished to characterize Lenin.

In my work on these recollections I have used scarcely any material dealing with the time pictured. This seemed to me best, as I did not set myself the task of presenting a complete historical sketch of Lenin’s life, but only wished to offer material from the original source, in this case. the author, by depending only on my own memory.

After this work had been written in the main, I read Volume XIV of Lenin’s works, and Comrade Ovsjannikof’s little book about the Brest-Litovsk peace, and made some additions to my work, but they were very few.


P.S. On reading over what I had written I found that I had called Leningrad in my recollections either Petrograd or Petersburg, while many other comrades call the Petrograd of old times Leningrad. This seems to me wrong. Can one say, for example: Lenin was imprisoned in Leningrad? It is clear that Lenin could not be imprisoned in Leningrad. Still less can one say: Peter I founded Leningrad. Perhaps in the course of years or decades the new name of the city – as all proper names in general – will lose its actual historical meaning. But for the present we still feel too clearly and acutely that Petrograd is called Leningrad only since the 21st of January, 1924, and could not be called so before. Therefore in these recollections of Leningrad I keep to the name by which it was known in the time of the events described.

21st April, 1924

Lenin Index | Introduction

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Last updated on: 20.1.2007