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#1 - Prefatory Notes

Russia in 1919

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: On August 27, 1914, in London, I made this note in a memorandum book: "Met Arthur Ransome at_____'s; discussed a book on the Russian's relation to the war in the light of psychological background--folklore." The book was not written but the idea that instinctively came to him pervades his every utterance on things Russian. The versatile man who commands more than respect as the biographer of Poe and Wilde; as the (translator of and commentator on Remy de Gourmont; as a folklorist, has shown himself to be consecrated to the truth. The document that Mr. Ransome hurried out of Russia in the early days of the Soviet government (printed in the New Republic and then widely circulated as a pamphlet), was the first notable appeal from a non-Russian to the American people for fair play in a crisis understood then even less than now. The British Who's Who--that Almanach de Gotha of people who do things or choose their parents wisely--tells us that Mr. Ransome's recreations are "walking, smoking, fairy stories." It is, perhaps, his intimacy with the last named that enables him to distinguish between myth and fact and that makes his activity as an observer and recorder so valuable in a day of bewilderment and betrayal. - Summary by B. W. Huebsch

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