Soviet-era erotic alphabet book from 1931 [Советская эротическая азбука 1931 года]


Image: This threesome brought
to you by the letter «А» (1931)


UPDATE: Apparently it was Giuliano Vivaldi behind the whole rumor that this collection was intended to “combat adult illiteracy,” as I put it here. He wrote: “I copied this from someone’s wall and added with a few exclamation marks that it was part of Stalin’s fight against illiteracy (joke intended). Since then my joke was cited as fact and traveled the internet.”

Consider me trolled! Still prefer to think of it having been conceived for that purpose.

Reproduced here are a bunch of scans from a fascinating erotic alphabet book printed in the Soviet Union circa 1931, made to combat adult illiteracy. By the sculptor and future People’s Artist of the USSR Sergei Merkurov [Сергей Меркуров], no less. For those of you who enjoyed my previous post on classic Soviet board-games from the 1920s, this should be right up your alley.

Ц, Ш

Ц, Ш

As my friend Jasmine Curcio points out, these images draw upon clear precedents in the phallic imagery of ancient Roman art. Throughout the ABC book one can find images of horny satyrs, indecent cupids, and flying disembodied cocks. Given Merkurov’s own fascination with ancient Greek and Roman art, this is hardly surprising. No doubt, all of these precedents were consciously invoked. Though it is admittedly somewhat interesting to see various dirty motifs cribbed from the style of Roman antiquity deployed for the purposes of a Soviet literacy campaign, which was itself such a distinctly modernizing project.

This should stand as definite challenge the false notion that the Soviet Union suppressed its citizens’ sexual desires, or was in the least conservative when it came to such matters. At least, not until Stalin achieved full control and instituted conservative policies. And, ironically, illustrated by the same man who’d later be commissioned by the Soviet government to sculpt a number of famous monuments to Stalin.

Ф, Ь

Ф, Ь

My friend Anna Khachiyan‘s reaction is worthy of inclusion here:

Thanks for sharing this — it is fantastic! All my years of tumblr trolling, and I’ve never seen anything nearly as good. And so artfully done, too. Alas, if only they had this much sex in real life.

But I must ask: What ever happened to the letter «Ж» in these drawings? This would be a difficult letter to navigate, sexually, but imagine the erotic possibilities!

Anyway, without further delay, some acknowledgments:

All of these great images are reposted from the brilliant Russian Livejournal account Isle of Crimea [Остров Крым]. I’d also like to thank Arya Moghadam for first bringing them to my attention. Credit is also due to Agata Pyzik, who first discovered them for the Anglophone world.

Needless to say, these are not safe for work. Enjoy.

…now I know my ABCs…

84 thoughts on “Soviet-era erotic alphabet book from 1931 [Советская эротическая азбука 1931 года]

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  5. Ledo engano, quem acha que isto representa liberdade sexual, o papel das mulheres no sexo é de verdadeira submissão ao falo masculino….não a uma ação ativa da mulher, a não ser imagens dela aceitado passivamente o sexo oposto….quero uma imagem da mulher ativamente bem posicionada ai, ai, ai!!! Quanto ilusão de ótica e de valores!!!

  6. Pingback: Alphabet soviétique à caractère pornographique, 1931 | Je le sais !

  7. Pingback: Prêt à choquer » funny pictures ! » Alphabet soviétique à caractère pornographique, 1931

  8. Curieusement, il manque quelques lettres (le e, le iat’, le tviordiï znak) à cet alphabet qui contient des caractères antérieurs à la réforme orthographique de 1917 (i, v, thêta). Une belle tentative d’érotisation généralisée du prolétariat qui, malheuresement, n’a pas eu de suite…

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  11. This is a fantastic find! However, it does not appear to have been published at all – everything is hand painted and handwritten. Not to mention the highly unlikely event that something like this would be published for any purpose in 1931…

    This link seems to be the source of the images and it indicates that it is hand-painted and in a private collection:

  12. Pingback: Porno art-deco Soviet alphabet

    • It is pretty evident that in the “ménages-à-trois” homosexuality is acknowledged both for men and women. Maybe a homosexual couple is missing, I don’t know if intentionally or not, but I would rather remind that it was the beginning of the XX century: pretty much openminded and revolutionary in all senses: much more than how it is acknowledged in current sexist pornography and generally in the society of the “liberal” capitalist world.

      I would ask instead something more about this fact of the fight against illiteracy. Since we have the updating above, can we know more about if this kind of alphabeth could have been intended really as “educational” and not only “artistic”? Considered that for many of the artists in Soviet Russia art had to serve the proletariat and rise the consciousness and the education, it can seem not so wandering.

      Greetings to the author: I just found this blog while hanging around during my reasearches about soviet constructivism in architecture, and I find it very interesting: I will definitely go deep through it. Thank you anyway for your work.

  13. Pingback: Sergey Merkurov: Soviet Erotic Alphabet (1931) — Monoskop Log

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  15. Tem algo de equivocado. Esse alfabeto pode até ter sido feito pelo tal escultor, porém, jamais poderia ser publicado em 1931 e menos ainda patrocinado pelo Estado Soviético. Stalin promoveu uma caça a artistas que não condiziam com a estética de arte do PC soviético. Stalin jamais permitiria que tal livro fosse publicado. Imediatamente teria expurgado o escultor, o que não aconteceu. Não encontrei nenhuma fonte que realmente indicasse com precisão de que as obras são dele.

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  17. It is not a publication however, but a privately produced and a privately enjoyed folly. Very strange to draw conclusions about Soviet culture based on this.

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  22. Como em todos os tempos,o corpo humano e todo o erotismo que proporciona,nos remete à arte,principalmente como neste manual,onde os traços das imagens são simbólicos,tanto do nú masculino:e seu falo ereto,quanto da mulher;e suas formas redondas,sua vagina ao fundo negro da pelagem.Não há escândalo na arte,veja o Kama Sutra,indiano,portanto,livros assim devem circular livremente.

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  31. Why would you say that was made to combat illiteracy? It was designed only to be a part of private collection, not for further audience.

  32. Дебилы все, кто купился, и русские (естественно эмигранты, они и истории своей не знают) в первую очередь. Смотрите в алфавит, и, ежели не проясняется мозг, смотрите историю русского алфавита в веках! А потом на буквы смотрите!!! Это – просто кто то постебался. Все доверчивые. Французы, итальянцы, немцы – написали – рад поверить!!! Как с войной в Грузии… Современный русскийалфавит существует с 1918 года!!! Ежели такое нарисовали, то только до революции!

  33. Pingback: Soviet-era erotic alphabet book from 1931 [Советская эротическая азбука 1931 года] | Only true news!

  34. Hi! This can’t be a Soviet era thing, because this alphabet was no longer in use after 1918! If it was done in 1931- than it was made by immigrants. Not that I don’t find this amusing- but nothing like this could be published in USSR after 1925. It could be printed privately, though (people were doing it, as it’s not really complicated).

    • It was printed privately, only intended by the author for this end. And the alphabet was reformed by the Bolsheviks, as you say, but many of these letters remained in use for Ukrainian and Belarusian texts.

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  36. It couldn’t have been published officially, if only because the alphabet here is pre-Revolutionary. It’s a shame, really, a terrible shame to publish something that is destined to go viral at your site and make such ignorant blunders. Of course, even the official media outlets do it these days. But oh well, at least we can still try to check our sources.

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  40. This is not Russian. It was drawn by a Russian artist, but some letters are not from Russian alphabet. It can be Greek or something.

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  42. The Soviet Erotic Alphabet now is available in Print!

    “Featuring over 35 full color prints of naked men, women, satyrs, and disembodied penises with wings arranged to depict Cyrillic characters as inventive sex positions, this alphabet-primer-turned-sexual-playbook will make for a delightfully naughty conversation piece on the coffee table of the sexually liberated household.”


    Direct from publisher:

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