My question is a bit ambiguous, but what I am trying to ask is if there was a way people could refer to the 'state' system in away that was not that obvious to figure out for everyone else? For instance, how could someone write an article in a newspaper, which would indirectly mention problems in the system, but at the same time, the gov. could not blame that particular article for anti-Russian sanctions. The period that interest me is 1905-17 (before the revolution).

I have seen that Mayakovsky (I am not sure), for instance, is using these techniques to portray the gov. in way that allow only the 'people' to understand it.

Could some one suggest what metaphors, symbols, idioms, et cetera might be used for this purpose?

  • Could you please provide some examples (like Mayakovksy tecnhiques you mentioned)?
    – Quassnoi
    Dec 11, 2012 at 22:49
  • Your question is very broad. To answer it, one needs to carefully go through books from the specified period and collect turns of speech. It is a separate study, not one question. If you are not sure whether some particular figure of speech refers to the government, you are welcome to ask about it here. However, it is not clear how such questions could be answered in general, because different speakers may interpret metaphors and symbols differently. You need to make a questionnaire and recruit people to answer it. This is not the right place to do so. 1-2 two questions are fine, though.
    – Olga
    Dec 12, 2012 at 9:35

2 Answers 2


I'd like to give examples from a bit earlier times than you request. In the works of the great Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (1826 – 1889) there are lots of the things of the kind you need, because in those times the censorship wouldn't simply allow any criticism of the government or the system printed. Saltykov-Shchedrin was so famous that the means he used became classics in Russian social criticism.

In his book "The History of a Town" he describes all the vices of the government by describing the history of a Russian town during the Middle Ages, that is speaking about the past he, actually, spoke about the present - a time shift.

In "Messieurs et Mesdames Pompadours" he speaks about France, but means Russia - a place shift.

In "The Golovlyov Family", one of his best works, he describes a family, whose members reflect and refract the whole life in Russia. In "The Tashkenters Clique" he speaks about problems of a small remote provincial town, but means the whole of Russia - a scale shift.

Saltykov-Shchedrin wrote many "fairy-tales" about animals, fishes, about a horse suffering from the work in the field, but they, actually, represented different strata of the then society - a species shift, or call it real-into-fantastic shift.

Wikipedia gives more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Saltykov-Shchedrin


Maybe they just omitted the word "Tsar" (the King), replacing it with a bit of silence while pointing [index] finger up (as if pointing at the God).

I have no reliable sources althogh, just seen it done in actual discussion [semi]-humorously.

  • Thanks for your answer. However please make sure that you have some backing for your answers. "Gut feel" answers are not as reliable as factual ones.
    – Aleks G
    Dec 13, 2012 at 19:48
  • As stated in the answer itself just seen this. It there were some backing I whould have mentioned it. I've just tried to find any cues in Google, but found nothing (it does not mean that such thing is untrue). I don't know how to confirm or disprove this easily.
    – Vi.
    Dec 14, 2012 at 14:33

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