Song of liberty: "the United States of Russia" in the political imagination of a Russian-American adventurer

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This article studies the restless political imagination of Ivan Narodny (1869-1953), a Russian-Estonian-American "revolutionary," con artist, arms dealer, journalist, writer, art critic, playwright, and "friend" of Roosevelt, Gorky, Lenin, Tolstoy, Rimsky-Korsakov, David Burliuk, and Roerich. The founder of the imaginary United States of Russia and the author of the Declaration of Independence of this imaginary state, Narodny was also the creator of numerous literary hoaxes, including the phantasmagorical odyssey of the revolutionary anthem of Russia, written by the old American poet Edwin Markham (1852-1940) in 1960. In the article, it is shown how the history of this anthem in Narodny's imagination plays upon political tendencies, ideas, and images characteristic for American impressions of Russia in the first half of the 20 century. The article also poses the task of developing a historical and cultural methodology for the analysis of the "Narodny Phenomenon," which would lay the foundation for a historical subdiscipline studying the functioning and significance of liars, frauds, and con artists in culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNovoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • Adventurism
  • Gorky
  • Hitler
  • Ivan Ivanovitch Narodny
  • Kubla Khan
  • Lenin
  • Machinations
  • Mystification
  • Political imagination and poetry
  • Prince of Wales
  • Prince Vladimir the Saint
  • Russian-American cultural relations
  • Stalin
  • United States of Russia


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