Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Eroshenko Deported!

Author: David Poulson
Published on: January 12, 2001

The Russian Revolution, which began on October 4th 1917, had serious consequences for Vasilij Eroshenko, as it did for everyone of Russian nationality. As mentioned in my previous article, Eroshenko was no longer able to receive the regular income his parents had provided during his travels. And to add to his problems, he was expelled from Calcutta by British government officials who regarded any Russian with great suspicion. It didn't matter that Eroshenko was as unpolitical an individual as you could find anywhere: the fact that he was Russian constituted sufficient grounds for his expulsion and he was obliged to leave India altogether. He made his way back to Japan and reached Tokyo in July 1919.

Ironically enough, after his return to Japan, Eroshenko did become associated with the socialist movement. He met and made friends with Takatu Seido (1893-1974) who, soon after, helped to found the Communist Party of Japan. Takatu introduced Eroshenko to other young Japanese socialists, one of whom, Kamitika Itiko (1888-1980) helped the young Russian a great deal. Itiko was a journalist who later became an influential member of the Japanese Socialist party, and, although neither of them knew it at the time, she laid the foundation for Eroshenko's later friendship with the Chinese novelist, Lusin. (I'll have more to say about that in my next article.)

Although Eroshenko was able to earn some money by teaching Esperanto and working as a masseur he needed more. (He does not seem to have been able to derive any income from his musical talents, which I find rather strange.) And so, helped by Kamitika Itiko, (and by other Japanese friends too), Eroshenko began to write stories, which he called 'fables' in the Japanese language and to sell them to various journals. These stories had a certain quality which really appealed to Japanese readers. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but they certainly also had a lyrical quality to them and that resulted in Eroshenko being known as the 'Blind Poet.' In fact, with one exception, Eroshenko does not seem to have written any poems in any language during his time in Japan. The only poem which is known is 'Antaudiro de la Ciganino' (The Gypsy's Prophecy), which he recited at the Japanese Esperanto Conference in 1920. On that occasion, his dramatist friend Akita Uzyaku translated the poem into Japanese and read out that version to the audience.

But it was as a writer of prose that Eroshenko became known as in Japan and in 1920 his portrait was painted by a short-lived but well-known painter of the modern school, Nakamura Tune (1888-1924). And as we will see, later his stories also had a strong appeal to the Chinese temperament.

Unfortunately, the combination of literary fame and the friendship of prominent socialists led to Eroshenko's second expulsion. In May 1921, he was arrested and deported to Vladivostok. In that same year, his Japanese friends had collected and published two volumes of his stories (a third was to follow in 1924) but I don't know whether they appeared before or after he was deported.

When Eroshenko reached Vladivostok, a further problem confronted him. He was not allowed to proceed any further towards his parents' home. Vladivostok at that time was controlled by the 'White Russian' government, and Eroshenko's home was deep inside Soviet-controlled territory. But this dilemma, which may have seemed like something of a nightmare at the time, actually proved to be a blessing in disguise. Unable to go back home, forbidden to return to Japan, banned from those areas of India and SE Asia under British control, Eroshenko made a very fortuitous decision. He went to China. From Vladivostok this intrepid young Russian set off in a north westerly direction to Harbin, in the heart of Manchuria, and then he made the long journey South until he reached Shanghai in October 1921, six months after his arrest in Japan.

And there it was, while working in a Japanese owned massage parlour, that he was found by Hujucz (who was mentioned briefly in my article 'Esperanto in China"

To find out what happened next, please join me for the next article in this series which will appear on January 26th.

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IN ENGLISHPAGHOJ EN ANGLA LINGVO
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