OK, this is very nitpicky, but I’m a confirmed nitpicker, so it’s driving me crazy, and if anyone can help I’ll be most grateful. I’m reading The Anarchist Prince: A Biographical Study of Peter Kropotkin by George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumović (you can apparently read it online if you’re a member of Questia), and I’m getting quite annoyed by the sloppiness on display. At the top of page 110, for instance, the authors refer to Oberstrass, where Kropotkin briefly lived in Zurich, as a “street”; it isn’t, it’s a section of the city (it was an independent municipality until 1893, when it, along with Unterstrass, Fluntern, and other nearby towns were assimilated into the city, like Brooklyn into NYC a few years later). They refer to the revolutionary Karakozov as “Karakazov” throughout. And on page 109 they say:

In Zurich he was immediately among friends. His brother’s sister-in-law, Madame Sophie Nicholaevna Lavrov [sic—should be Sofya Nikolaevna Lavrova], was studying there; she lived with another Russian, Nadeshda [sic—should be Nadezhda] Smezkaya, a wealthy woman who later financed some of the insurrectionary efforts of the Italian anarchists and who was already a disciple of Bakunin.

Now, there is no such name as “Smezkaya”; my reference books and Google come up empty (I tried both Смезкая and Смезкий). Does someone happen to have any sources that would identify this woman so I can leave Zurich and move on to Geneva along with Prince K?


  1. For the record, New York City did assimilate first the (Annexed District of the) Bronx (River) and, later on, Queens and Richmond Counties. But its merger with the City of Brooklyn was by mutual agreement between the New York city council, the Brooklyn city council, and the New York State legislature, after a plebiscite in Brooklyn.
    That’s the only way cities can merge in New York State (and it’s why most of the political units adjacent to New York City have “city” status, so that they cannot be Borged by the Big Apple).

  2. simple scholar says

    Ah. As I suspected, they meant Смецкая. I’m afraid there isn’t a lot of information on that person either, but Google does come up with pages that say she was a “Russian socialist”, and that she was arrested and exiled to Kostroma in 1875.

  3. FWIW, he encyclopedia at gives us this little squib:
    СМЕЦКАЯ Надежда Николаевна (1850 – 1905) – деятель революционного народнического движения 70-80-х гг. XIX в.
    Соратница М. Бакунина. В 1875 вела пропаганду среди крестьян Бугурусланского уезда Самарской губернии. Арестованная в слободе Аманагской, привлекалась к следствию по делу о пропаганде в империи; была выслана под надзор полиции в Костромскую губернию. В 1876 вела пропаганду среди казаков Илецка.
    Smetskaya, Nadezhda Nikolaevna (1850 – 1905): activist in popular revolutionary movement of the 1870s-80s.
    Associate of Bakunin’s. In 1875 propagandized among the peasants in Buguruslansk district, Samara gubernia. Arrested in the Amanagskay settlement, prosecuted; deported under police supervision to Kostroma gubernia. In 1876 agitated among the Iletsk Cossacks.

  4. Now that I see the answer, it seems obvious: z is being used (for whatever reason) with its German value of /ts/. What a relief — thank you!

  5. From T.R. Ravindranathan, Bakunin and the Italians, p. 220.
    “[Carlo] Cafiero and [Errico] Malatesta did not return immediately to Italy after the Congress of Berne [October 1876]. They stayed for several weeks in Switzerland in a fruitless effort to find employment.[59] Cafiero was also looking for a buyer for Baronata [a villa ‘on the road from Locarno to Bellinzona, just inside the Swiss border’]. It was during this period that the two friends concocted another conspiracy to put Bakunin’s insurrectionary tenets to the test once again. Although they were unable to sell Baronata, a Russian revolutionary socialist, one Mlle Smetskaia, then residing in Switzerland, generously offered the two conspirators four thousand francs to realize their objective of starting a revolution in their native land. […] [60]” The footnotes reference Max Nettlau, _Malatesta: vita i pensieri_, New York, 1922, pp. 150-151 and James Guillaume, _L’Internationale: documents et souvenirs (1864-1878), Paris: 1905-1910, 4:116. It is quite likely that Woodcock used Nettlau’s work, as Nettlau is *the* source for these sort of things.

  6. Woodcock was a good friend of George Orwell’s during Orwell’s last years. Earlier Orwell, in his propagandist capacity, had denounced pacifists such as Woodcock as “objective fascists”. Orwell bitterly regretted this, but around 2002 the language Orwell rejected was resurrected to describe opponents of the Iraq War.

  7. “Opponents of Iraq War”? Really?
    As usual, Mr. Emerson got it exactly upside down.
    It’s Bush who is usually (and ridiculously) called Hitler by the crazy Left, not the other way around. Look here: 9,400,000 instances of Bush=Hitler.
    There is 11,300,000 instances of Americans fascists Iraq War, plenty of dementia to choose from.
    Classical case of projectoin, though, on Mr.Emerson’s part.

  8. Sort of expected your automatic response, Tatyana. What I wrote is factual. Michael Kelly, Christopher Hitchens, and Andrew Sullivan all used a quote from Orwell (directed at Woodcock) which Orwell himself renounced to descibe American opponents of the Iraq War.

  9. Where? Show me, as I showed you.
    Besides, where does it say that it is forbidden to reuse an expression if its author at some point renounced it?
    Personally, I rather like a different expression myself, “fifth column”. I find it more appropriate.

  10. OK, but don’t use Orwell to justify what you say, because when Orwell denounced the pacifists he was a propagandist (and effectively a Stalinist), and the Orwell who is honored is the later Orwell who rejected that kind of thing — his rejection of that kind of brutal rhetoric is exactly what he is honored ofr.
    The Orwell documentation is here: “Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell”, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (HBJ, 1968):
    Vol. II, pp.180-1 (Jan. 1942 Partisan Review London Letter).
    Vol. II, p. 226 (Sept-Oct. 1942 Partisan Review London Letter).
    Vol. III, p. 289 (“As I Please,” Dec. 1944): “lunatic atmosphere of war.”
    Vol. III, p. 292 (“As I Please,” Dec. 1944): “objective pro-Fascist” phrase rejected.
    The Michael Kelly documentation is here.
    The Andrew Sullivan documentation is here.

  11. The Hitchens link I have is dead, and yes, it is indeed ironic that I called Orwell “effectively a Stalinist”. What is the lesson here?

  12. I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself in agreement with Andrew Sullivan.
    And I see nothing wrong with Michael Kelly’s column.
    Some time in the future, when I’m in the vicinity of public library, I might ask for those Orwell books you site; ‘but I promise nothing'(c). Anyway, this argument didn’t start with WWII; you should read a bit about bolsheviks, slogans of NOT supporting Imperialists’ War (WWI), transition of said Imperialist’s War into Class Civil Wars withing participating countries (and also some uncomfortable data about German money that kept Lenin’s propaganda in business).
    The lesson here, I guess, is that you pick your quotes from the same author to serve/illustrate your position of the moment.
    Some use earlier quote, some – later one. Sometimes it’s the same person who uses both.
    It helps to attempt to think for oneself; but some are so accustomed to look at authority that it’s beyond their ability.

  13. Nitpicking aside, is the book any good?
    In his memoirs, Kropotkin briefly recalls the large number of young Russian women who were there in Zurich doing calculus and thermodynamics. (In 1875!) And his friend Sonia Kovalevsky studying in Berlin with Weierstrass. (A series of posters of famous mathematicians put out by Springer Verlag made her as much of a college icon back in the day as books by Kropotkin, Bakunin and Goldman. Hence the memorable connection.)

  14. Some of us have been taught to prefer the Stalinist Orwell, and then others have learned to respect the anti-Stalinist Orwell, I guess.

  15. Nitpicking aside, is the book any good?
    Well, yes, but I expect to find it more interesting once it gets past the period covered in the Memoirs, which are after all far better than the rehashed summary the biographers provide.

  16. So, somebody who wants to defend his country from attack and opines that pacifists at the time of war objectively work for the enemy’s victory, is a Stalinist. I see.
    I’ll let you live this time, “anti-Stalinist” Emerson, but only because I’m in very good spirits today. Enjoy my vacation.

  17. Yeah. That’s what Orwell thought, and that’s how the Stalinists argue.

  18. This Bush/Iraq controversy has spread over all the blogosphere to the point of becoming inevitable. Impressive really, considering that neither side has any sort of solution – or at least no concensus whatsoever as to how to deal with the situation now.

  19. Oh, you two lovebirds.

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