Yesterday, November 28, 2011 I posted a reminiscence of Svetlana (Lana Peters) Alliluyeva Stalin.
I posted late and followed by emailing a copy to a mutual friend Kamal Amin. Kamal and I have been close friends for thirty-five years. Kamal devoted a chapter of his book Reflections From the Shining Brow, to our mutual friend, Svetlana. Following are the emails from me to Kamal and his reply. I will include passages from Reflections.
This evening I wrote of my memories of Svetlana from a three-week period in which we became friends. I never saw her after that. I wanted to consult with you but it was too late to be calling and I did want this post to bear today’s date. If you would like to post a comment I invite you to do so. If I may post a quote from Reflections, I could do that tomorrow. Please inform.
I pray for peace in your homeland.
I read your touching piece. She was one of a kind.
If you’d like to. you can post a quotation from my book.
REFLECTIONS FROM THE SHINING BROW
MY YEARS WITH FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT AND OLGIVANNA LAZOVICH
He is gone, but his shadow still stands over all of us. It still dictates to us and we, very often, obey. – Svetlana Stalin, on her father.
…..My wife and I were expecting Olgivanna. She had called earlier announcing that she would arrive with a guest. She stepped out of her Cadillac with an attractive woman of about forty or forty-two years of age. The guest was rather square-faced, with blue eyes and a sweet smile. She looked down slightly, in a demure posture, communicating an apparent shyness. They reached the breeze-way and Olgivanna introduced her guest. She was Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Stalin, the dead Russian dictator……
…..Some of Svetlana’s writing reveals the darkness that had engulfed her life and illustrates her hunger for a ray of light. In Only One Year she writes:
In the family in which I was born and bred, nothing was normal. Everything was oppressive, and my mother’s suicide was a most eloquent testimony to the hopelessness of the situation —- Kremlin walls all around me, secret police in the house, in the kitchen, at school. And over it all a wasted, obdurate man, fenced in from his former colleagues, his old friends, from all those who had been close to him, in fact from the entire world, who, with his accomplices, had turned the country into a prison in which everyone with a breath of spirit and mind was being extinguished; a man who aroused fear and hatred in millions of men. This was my father.
This was the burden that dominated her life in her young years and continued to shadow her existence as she grew up. If anything, life became harder for her after her Father’s death in 1953. At least during his life she was protected by her blood relationship with him. Another aspect of her thinking is also expressed in Only One Year,
At the University, I went through a course in history and social science. We seriously studied Marxism, analyzed Marx, Engels, Lenin, and, of course, Stalin. The conclusion I carried away from those studies was that the theoretical Marxism and Communism that we studied had nothing whatever to do with actual conditions in the USSR. Economically, our socialism was more of a state capitalism. Its social aspect was some strange hybrid bureaucratic-like system in which the secret police resembled the German Gestapo and our backward rural economy made one think of a nineteenth-century village. Marx had never dreamed of anything of the sort….Soviet Russia broke with everything that had been revolutionary in her history and got on the well-trodden path of all-powerful imperialism, having replaced the liberal freedoms of the beginning of the twentieth century with the horrors of Ivan the Terrible.
…..During her initial days at Taliesin, Svetlana and I spent some quality time together. We went walking or swimming in a pool I had built a few years earlier. She was soft-spoken, attractive and a pleasure to be with. But there was a peculiar vacant spot in her make-up. Occasionally she separated herself from her environment and disappeared into some inaccessible space, signaling an abrupt end to the encounter. Over the years this became a defining feature, which probably originated in her conflicted childhood and youth. Eventually, it was hard to have a meaningful communication with her, as there was this built-in dead-end every time a contact started…..
…..She lived through the shattering experience of her mother’s suicide. She coexisted with pervasive uncertainty, inconsistency, and insecurity about what her future held.