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Leon Trotsky 19380203 Letter to Jan Frankel

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Jan Frankel

February 3, 1938

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p 753 f., title: “Eastman and The Young Lenin”]

Dear Friend:

Regarding Walker's efforts to arrange publication of the book on Lenin in an expedient way, I must draw your attention to a fundamental question, that of the translation. I could easily get out of the affair by "serializing" the first part of the book, The Young Lenin, and we could then put out other chapters as they are written. But here's the problem: Eastman neither wants to let go, that is, give up the translation, nor work along with me. He has, naturally, his own concerns. But from the very beginning I asked the publisher not to involve Eastman precisely because he is too high and mighty to accommodate himself to my most basic concerns. That was how he completely blocked the "serialization" of The Revolution Betrayed. Now it's the same thing with Lenin. We could make other arrangements for the translation. This would give some very well-paying work to our own comrades. (Perhaps even [Eleanor] Clark would be disposed to take it on?) From every point of view the question of the translation is fundamental. [Eastman's translation of] The History of the Russian Revolution, in spite of the magnificent style, is full of errors. And why? Because I had no opportunity of controlling the translation. At the last minute Eastman would dictate the translation in fits and starts, depriving me of the possibility of revising the translation as well as serializing it. I wrote to Doubleday Doran that I was ready to give up "serialization" rights (10 percent of royalties), but I made it conditional on a change in how the translation was being done. I got no results and the question has been left hanging. I very much regret not having written all this to you before. Having thought it through, I see that getting free of Eastman is the only way to succeed.

Explain this in a firm way to Walker. Perhaps someone could approach Eastman himself and explain to him that my sole desire is to separate my work from his. He must therefore understand that I cannot subordinate my literary work and my basic interests to the habits and convenience of the translator. Take this matter in hand.

Best wishes, L.T.