34 / CHRONICLESnNevertheless, Juliette Stapanian’snscholarly and pedantic study of Mayakovsky’snpoetry is a remarkable effort innthat direction. Relying strictly on annanalytical method called “graphic scansion,”nStapanian first attempts a stepby-stepnexamination of Mayakovsky’snpoems and then tries to show that hisnpoetic imagery and technique correspondnto those found in cubist-futuristnpaintings.nTo use a modern colloquialism—nand Mayakovsky is modern even byntoday’s standards—most of his lyricalnpoetry is “off the wall.” In one suchnpoem that Stapanian has chosen fornanalysis, “a crazy cathedral” is “galloping”nacross the horizon of the urbanscape,nwhile the image of Christ hasn”peeled off” the ancient Russian iconnand fled (to safety!). Stapanian wants ton”arrest” this free-fancy chain of imagesnand subject it to her analytical scrutiny.nSo she offers a logical explanation ofnhow, optically, this phenomenon couldnactually take place as the observer walksnin the direction of the cathedral and hisnown movements are translated into apparentnmovements of the image of thendistant cathedral. But the reader mustnBOOKS IN BRIEF—HISTORYnwonder if this sort of logic is applicablento this kind of poetry—written by an”crazy Russian poet”!nStapanian finds “a related source ofncomplexity and distortion lies in thenequivocal flow of images by the studiedndisplacement of locational references.”nMayakovsky, the man of the earth,nwould have marveled at this lofty tonenof literary style. The poet of the “cloudnin trousers” and of the “scent of thenarmpits,” who didn’t shy away fromnoccasional obscenity, Mayakovskynlonged to be understood by everyone,neven by the most simple and the uneducated.nObviously this compulsion to benunderstood is not one of Stapanian’snproblems. The reader may be temptednto conclude that Mayakovsky exercisedngood judgment and foresight in committingnsuicide some 5 5 years ago: otherwisenhe would have had to endurensuch literary (and literal-minded) studiesnas Stapanian’s myopic Cubo-nFuturist Vision.nThe tragedy of Mayakovsky is thentragedy of the Russian Revolution andnof the people of the USSR. All thatnMayakovsky fought against—the “philistines”nand the “reactionary bourgeois”nThe Maupeou Revolution: A Study in the History of Libertarianism, France, 1770-1774 bynDurand Echeverria; Louisiana State University Press; Baton Rouge, LA. An intellectualnhistory of the controversy occasioned when Louis XV and his chancellor, Rene NicolasnCharier Augustin de IMaupeou, dissolved the aristocratic parlements. Echeverria’s valuablenstudy highlights the priority of intellectual movements over merely political initiatives.nThe War of the Two Emperors: The Duel Between Napoleon and Alexander, Russia 1812nby Curtis Cate; Random House; New York; $24.95. As lucid and engrossing as a historicalnnovel, Cate’s account of one of the most disastrous military adventures in history is solidlynrooted in documentary research.nAn Indian Dynasty: The Story of the Nehru-Gandhi Family by Tariq Ali; G.P. Putnam’snSons; New York; $17.95. An unflattering look at the family whose leadership of India fornmore than three decades has virtually turned India’s official democracy into an unofficialnmonarchy.nThe History of White People in America by Martin Mull and Allen Rucker; Perigee; NewnYork; $5.95. For real history, we turn to an often funny, almost always tasteless, chronicle ofnthe American pariah. There was a time when no one would have seen the joke.nThe French Enlightenment in America: Essays on the Times of the Founding Fathers bynPaul Merrill Spurlin; University of Georgia Press; Athens. A useful compilation of referencesnto French influence on the generation of the Founders, Spurlin’s essays are marred bynshallowness of research (e.g., failure to recognize Henry and John Laurens as Huguenots withna special interest in France) and an apparent inability to explore the deeper issues.nThe Last Stuarts: British Royalty in Exile by James Lees-Milne; Charles Scribner’s Sons;nNew York. A thoroughly readable account of the unhappy Stuarts in exile, which would servento discourage even the most resolute partisans of the King across the water. James Lees-Milnencombines painstaking research with a style of considerable grace in this sympathetic accountnof a tragic royal family.nKing Charles I by Pauline Gregg; University of California Press; Berkeley. A carefullynresearched and clearly written account of England’s most controversial ruler—King andnMartyr or despot and hypocrite. While tracing his inevitable downfall Gregg never loses sightnof the man who wanted either to live as a king or die as a gentleman.nnnstyle—triumphed in the official Sovietnstate. When the Almighty State, rulednby the Central Committee, decided tonpunish “bad” artists and reward “good”nones, Mayakovsky’s fate was sealed.nThe “apparatchiki” (safekeepers of thenrevolution) and the modernists werenhopelessly incompatible because theynwere mutually incomprehensible. Notnmuch has changed since.nYet it is hard not to see a strikingnresemblance between “socialist realism”nand commercialist “photorealism”nin the West. True enough, thentwo aesthetics serve different masters,nbut the ultimate goal is the same; salesmanship.nIn thrall to commercialismnand consumerism, art surrenders to anvery simple one-two rule: what sells isngood, what doesn’t isn’t. The “verisimilitude”nof artistic representation,nboth East and West, spells out thenneurosis of our times. Verisimilitude isna poor substitute for creative authenticity.nThe ever-so-sterile and deadly imitationnof “reality” is a true sign of man’sncompetitiveness with “nature” and ofnhis alienation from himselfnWe still need Mayakovsky today; wenneed his bold spirit of an incorrigiblenrebel with a cause. We could use hisn”slap in the face of public taste” and hisnappeals for a greater integration of thenarts and a closer cooperation betweennartists, across national borders but alsonacross artificial boundaries of differentnartistic discipline.nIt has been 55 years sincenMayakovsky’s death, but we need tonhear his poems once more. In both Eastnand West. ccnBudimir D. Tosic is an artist andnarchitect in Chicago.nBloody Ivannby Michael WardernHenri Troyat: Ivan the Terrible; E.P.nDutton; New York; $18.95.nWhen historians draw up their lists ofnruthless autocrats, Ivan the Terrible isnusually near the top. When politicalnscientists assert that totalitarianism isnnot a new phenomenon, they back upntheir claim with a reference to Ivan thenTerrible, the 16th-century leader ofnRussia who dominated both church andnstate. This first Czar of Russia is clearlyna benchmark ruler.nRussian-born Frenchman HenrinTroyat has written an entertaining butnsensationalized account of Ivan, depictingnhis subject as a Russian version ofn