January 01, 2009

Boris Savinkov: Russian Terrorist

Boris Savinkov (born January 19, 1879)

Just looking at Boris Savinkov’s portrait is enough to make the blood run cold – thin, pursed lips, an intense gaze without a hint of a smile. But, then again we know that he was a terrorist. Perhaps if Savinkov had become a writer, his portrait would make a completely different impression.

And he could have been a writer. The several novels he penned under the pseudonym V. Ropshin may not have been masterpieces of Russian literature, but they are well written and interesting. One of the revolutionary’s friends recalled that, during an outing to a restaurant, a bet was made to see who could write a poem before dessert was served. Savinkov claimed that this would be easy, and that he would, in fact, write three poems. Indeed, before the main course arrived he had already written one, after the main course he completed another, and he managed a third before dessert was served. And all three were decent poems – one permeated with political idealism, another lyrical, and the third decadent.

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