Rus Articles Journal

How the lefthander became a Lefthander?

As any baby, the Tula Lefthander was born anonymous: the first publication of work of Leskov in three October books of the Slavophile magazine “Russia“ of 1881 went under the name “The Narration about the Tula Cross-eyed Lefthander and about a Steel Flea (a Shop Legend)“ - quite so, from a lowercase letter.

Time that the generalized character of the talented workman found a name was required. So the Lefthander as the living person, has a birthday - date of a release of the magazine to the public, has “parent“ - the writer Nikolay Semenovich Leskov. Is and “the God father“ - the general - the major of artillery Sergey Aleksandrovich Zybin, the armorer and the inventor, the historian and the playwright working in 1891-1913 at the Tula small-arms factory … as

“I cannot tell, the first zavodka a basnosloviya about a steel flea was born where exactly that is whether she was brought in Tula, on Izhma or in Sestroretsk, but, obviously, it went from one of these places. In any case the narration about a steel flea is specially oruzheynichya a legend, and it expresses itself pride of the Russian masters of gun business … I wrote down this legend in Sestroretsk according to the local narration from the old armorer, the Tula native who moved on the Sister - the river even in reign of the emperor Alexander the First“, - such footnote which turned later into the preface, the author preceded the first, journal publication.

Contemporaries took all this in all good faith. Nikolay Semenovich was even forced to explain in the press that “all this story composed“ and “the lefthander is the person, me invented“, and the flea is taken from a walking humourous catchphrase: British - made a steel flea, and inhabitants of Tula grounded her and sent them back.

During lifetime of Leskov “Narration“ did not gain recognition as an event in literature, influential magazines of that time gave to work a negative assessment. And though for the first twentieth anniversary of the existence “Narration“ sustained five editions, in it still saw only “a third-rate joke“.

Interest in “A shop legend“ resulted from researches of Zybin who published history of the workman Alexey Surnin who in Ekaterina`s times was sent from Tula to England for improvement in weapon business became the excellent master and upon return home made for development of the Tula small-arms factory much. From Zybin, the literary criticism of our time notes, absolutely new point of view under which the Leskov story is comprehended originates - from now on to it look for sources, argue on prototypes, estimate the actual basis of details. So from an easy hand of Zybin abstract “lefthander“ as if found a name, flesh and blood, having reincarnated in the specific, really existing person - the Lefthander from capital letter.

Lev Tolstoy somehow told: “Leskov is a writer of the future“. Really, to treat Nikolay Semenovich as to the classic became only during the Soviet era and that is far not at once - the first collected works of the writer left in the USSR in 1956-1958. However “Lefthander“ was recognized far earlier. It returned to domestic literature as national, mass reading already in 20 - e years of the last century when 5 editions of “Narration“ with a general circulation about 50 thousand copies were issued. In 30 - e years there were 8 editions with a circulation about 80 thousand copies, in 40 - e - 17 (over one million), in 50 - e - 16 (over 2 million), in 60 - e - 15 (about 800 thousand generally, small circulations in translations into languages of the people of the USSR), in 70 - e - 15 editions, 3 million copies … In the 20th century “Lefthander“ left more than hundred times with a general circulation about 20 million copies!

However, to a legendary image of the Lefthander the relation and today ambiguous. One see in it only the talent ruined by alcohol, others perceive Leskov “Narration“ as a sad and evil caricature on the person of work, the third emphasize superiority of “our“ hands and brains before foreign.

We spoke about diversity of understanding of the Lefthander with the now deceased designer Stechkin, the creator of the well-known gun “APS“ once. Then Igor Yakovlevich is the person highly intelligent, the intellectual and the clear head, - reminded the last words of the Lefthander (Tell U-00AB o the sovereign that at British of the gun a brick do not clean: let that and at us did not clean, and that, store the god of war, they do not do to shoot“) and noticed: in his opinion, an essence of the literary image created by Leskov - in deep patriotism. Even a mortal minute the talented Russian person thought of interests of the Fatherland - “and with this fidelity … crossed and died“.

Unfortunately, the designer added, we and now it is frequent “we clean guns a brick“. And it is difficult not to agree with it.