‘Не надо затемнять’

A leaflet “Ко всем товарищам! [To all comrades!] that appeared in Paris in 1909 (the leaflet did not contain a publication date but it was likely published before the so-called Vpered Platform – The Current Situation and Tasks of the Party: A Platform Developed by a Group of Bolsheviks – published in December of 1909, and certainly after July 1909) Bogdanov and Lunacharsky address recent events that led to Bogdanov’s expulsion from the Bolshevik Center in June of 1909. There are four texts in the leaflet:

1. No need to mislead [Bogdanov]
2. A note on the history of the Party School [Bogdanov]
3. A few words about my ‘god-building’ [Lunacharsky]
4. Our most pious editorial board [Bogdanov]

The opening text is called ‘Не надо затемнять’ which presents a bit of challenge when it comes to translation.

The title literally means ‘No need to obfuscate’ or ‘Let us not obfuscate’ but then again it depends on how one reads the tone of this short article and who are the intended targets that are called upon to cease ‘obfuscating’ – clearly, it is directed against Lenin and his supporters so ‘let us not’ version is not correct as Bogdanov is not including himself and other Bolsheviks in the obfuscation of the on-going controversies. ‘No need to obfuscate’ appears to be closer to the tone but it lacks an imperative tone that the Russian title suggests – so perhaps ‘Do not obfuscate’ would suit better?

Then there’s a matter of ‘obfuscation’ which is a correct translation of ‘затемнять’ (in this context) but that does not quite strike one as colloquially relevant. One does not normally go around asking people to cease obfuscating while it is quite a regular expression in Russian, especially as a sort of everyday idiom – ‘Что-то он сильно затемняет – ничего не могу разобрать’ – so perhaps a less literal translation would do it justice? ‘No need to muddy the waters’ or ‘No need to confuse everyone’ or ‘No need to mislead’ (which I like the most).


The PDF here is the best copy I have – enjoy!

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