One of the books I referred to while doing research for Love Songs of the Revolution was this little tome, a travel guide to Vilnius from 1981.
The book was written in Russian by Lithuanian author Antanas Papšys and translated into English by J.C. Butler. It was published by Progress Publishers in Moscow. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:
"Vilnius is a city whose rich past is marked by the most important historical events in the life of the Lithuanian people. It is rightly famed for its revolutionary and international traditions; its name is dear not only to Lithuanians but also to peoples of other nationalities living in Lithuania since time immemorial."
Some of what's in the guidebook is standard travel material: recommended walking tours, information about the opera and ballet, and what to see if you have only one, two or three days in town.
Then there is the uniquely Soviet material, like the full-color photo of a Shop in the Drill Factory. There's a two-page spread devoted to Lenin Square, with both a bird's-eye shot of the park and a closeup of the central statue of the man called Leninas in Lithuanian.
During the Soviet era, I learned, the Church of St. John, housed a Museum of Scientific Thought. In 1981, a bus ride from the airport to Vilnius city center would set you back 20 kopecks. If you preferred a taxi, you could order it on the plane from a stewardess.
The other great find in this book is this old library card and sleeve inside the front cover. I wonder if anyone else has checked it out since the last time I did.
The final page of the book is devoted to this rather charming request to readers:
"Progress Publishers would be glad to have your opinion of this book, its translation and design and any suggestions you may have for future publications. Please send all your comments to 17 Zubovsky Boulevard, Moscow, USSR."
I was sad when Google maps couldn't find that address, though I did stumble upon this little gem of a website instead.
Here are a few more images from this wonderful time capsule of a book:
Looking for your next book to read? I can recommend all these great indie press books.