Highly irritable

October 13, 2011

Yvonne H. Howell gives a rightly enthusiastic review of Nikolai Krementsov's A Martian Stranded on Earth: Alexander Bogdanov, Blood Transfusions, and Proletarian Science, his stimulating study of the Soviet polymath A.A. Bogdanov (1873-1928) (Books, 29 September).

She points out that Bogdanov irritated Lenin. However, it is worth noting that this was some irritation, for it resulted in Lenin's 391-page Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1909). In it he hauls Bogdanov over the coals and in his own words seeks to "punish" him "for his betrayal of materialism".

Perhaps not surprisingly, only a few months before finishing his book, Lenin was contentedly playing chess against Bogdanov on Capri with Maxim Gorky looking on.

Richard E. Rawles, Honorary research Fellow in psychology, University College London

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