Viktors Dabolins’ review of Pa Stāvu Liesmu Debesīs – On A Towering Flame To Heaven – by Philip Ruff has now been translated into English.
The writer stresses the fact that researchers (of Peter the Painter’s legend) were themselves to blame for the persistence of the myth about the elusiveness of anarchist Peter the Painter, because they never thought of going to Latvia in search of the answers.
“Philip Ruff’s book about the Latvian anarchist Janis Zhaklis dispels some myths which have been intentionally created to cover up the factual smithereens, which for many dozens of years had been presented as the true history of the 1905 revolution.”
“School history text-books and other publications for readers interested in this period, used phrases like “chaotic riots”, “disorganised peasant uprisings”… illustrated by dull drawings and picture reproductions – peasants, armed with pitchforks and spades against the background of a burning castle… The purpose of such interpretations is clear – they were meant to show the Bolsheviks as the only true liberators of oppressed nations and workers against the background of the 1905 events.”
“Philip Ruff’s book removes the foggy veil from the dull, lacklustre reproductions in those text-books; it purposefully and methodically draws the connection between the seemingly disparate events and gives them a logical, fact-based and completely different content and interconnectedness.”
“Before the publication of Ruff’s book, next to nothing or very little was known about what really lies at the basis of anarchist ideas. All these myths (or rather, lies) Philip Ruff’s book deconstructs in a quiet, convincing story, richly supported by historical facts.”
Although Ruff has been coming to Latvia since the 80s of the last century and for quite a while his visits are connected with his research of the biography of one of the possibly best known anarchists of Latvian descent Peter the Painter, this time his visit is special. In the middle of August the publishing house “Dienas Gramata” is releasing the result of his 9-year research – the book Pa stâvu liesmu debesîs. Nenotveramâ latvieðu anarhista Pçtera Mâldera laiks un dzîve (On a Towering Flame to the Skies: The Life and Times of the Elusive Latvian Anarchist Peter the Painter).
The name of Peter the Painter in Great Britain first came up in connection with the so-called Houndsditch Murders in 1910. That was a daring and unsuccessful attempt to burgle a jeweller’s shop in the East End of London, which ended in violence unheard of in those days – several policemen had been shot dead. An even more outrageous event happened soon after that, which became known as the Siege of Sidney Street. Several Latvian anarchists managed to stand up to an overwhelmingly greater force for hours in a besieged house in Sidney Street. The house was surrounded not only by police and even army units with cannons, but also by huge crowds of onlookers and even the Home Secretary of the time Winston Churchill turned up. No one surrendered alive, but Peter Piatkov, or Peter the Painter, who was widely regarded as the main culprit, managed to escape.
The completion and publication of the book does not at all mean that Ruff’s interest in Peter the Painter and other revolutionaries of 1905 has been exhausted. He is full of determination to find a publisher also in Great Britain, and he is still not satisfied that he has found out everything to the end.
Šis pētījums par mazzināmu mūsu vēstures lappusi — latviešu anarhistiem un dažādu it kā nesaistītu notikumu brīžiem dīvainajām kopsakarībām, kas lielā mērā noteica 19. gs. beigu — 20. gs. sākuma situāciju gan Latvijā, gan Eiropā, — savu pirmizdevumu 2012. gada augustā piedzīvo tulkojumā latviešu valodā. Par šo darbu jāpateicas ne tikai autora pētnieka dzinulim un viņa sievai Irēnai, bet arī visiem daudzajiem cilvēkiem Latvijā un pasaulē, kuri kopš 80. gadu beigām palīdzēja “dzīt pēdas” vienam no slavenākajiem gadsimta sākuma Londonas biediem — Pēterim Mālderim.
“Aizraujošā sāga par nenotveramā latviešu anarhista gaitām veido vien stāsta virskārtu. Zem tās — skaudras atklāsmes par politiskās varas un vardarbības ciešo saikni, par līdzekļiem, kuru izvēle pazudina viscēlākos mērķus, par pelniem, uz kuriem piedzima Latvijas valsts.”
Vents Zvaigzne, žurnāls “Ilustrētā Zinātne”
Grāmatas autors Filips Rufs dzimis 1952. gadā Birmingemā. Vēstures pētīšanai pievērsies jau 70. un 80. gados, darbojoties starptautiskajā kustībā “Anarhistu Melnais krusts”, kas savā ziņā ir ietekmējis autora skatījumu uz “Pētera Māldera” un latviešu anarhistu darbības motīviem. Autors savulaik darbojies vairākos anarhistu izdevumos (Black Flag, Z-Revue, The Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review, Anarchy Magazine), vēlāk strādājis labdarības organizācijā, kas nodrošina pakalpojumus veciem cilvēkiem. Anarhisma tēmai veltīti arī iepriekšējie Filipa Rufa publicētie darbi.
The Latvian version of Philip Ruff’s new book, A Towering Flame: The Life & Times of ‘Peter the Painter’, will be launched on the 16th August at Dienas Gramata. Phil’s book is the basis for Spectacle’s English/Latvian co-production project. ‘Siege‘